Two new game modes are the first things that greet me when I start the Wii U version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2, named Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition. Mushroom Mode and Tekken Ball are both exclusive to the Wii U version, and reminds me of the older Tekken games where Namco had the habit of always pampering the console audience with a few extra game modes.
The best one of these additions was Tekken Ball from Tekken 3, and I played it way too many hours as a nice distraction from the fighting. So it was with trembling fingers that I choose to start my career with Tekken Tag Tournament 2 on the Wii U with some volleyball. Have Namco managed to make it as entertaining as the original?
The answer to the rhetorical question is a resounding yes. It doesn't take long before I realize that I've still got it and my tag team can start humiliating the opponents with rock solid power smashes. Over the weekend I invited some pals over to find out if it's even funnier when facing human resistance - and after too many hours of hard testing, I can happily announce that it actually is.
The second game mode is more insane, but still entertaining. Here we are fighting in arenas filled with familiar Nintendo bonus items, such as super mushrooms, while listening to sweet Nintendo music remixes. Picking up bonuses, like the mentioned mushroom, will make you grow like Super Mario and make you far stronger to dish out more punishment. As I said, Mushroom Mode is more insane, and despite few different bonus items, it's still a nice addition to the game. Especially for younger players, but also to those of my friends who do not understand Tekken.
Mushroom Mode can also be made even weirder than it already is by dressing up all the Tekken rapscallions in classic Nintendo outfits. Jinpachi Mishima is a completely bizarre Toad while Lars Alexandersson easily turns into a Link from one's worst nightmares. All this is also unlocked from the start, which means that I for once actually can start to enjoy the game directly, rather than unlocking stuff for a small eternity before the real fun begins.
The only bad thing is that the different characters can not mix their Nintendo costumes. Nina Williams remains as Zelda and can not change into Zero Suit Samus, as her sister Anna (who can't be Zelda). Further, the number of outfits is not so huge, so there are multiple Marios and Luigis. Still, it's not really something to complain about when it is, after all, extra content (compared to the regular versions for Playstation 3 and Xbox 360), and a pretty nice bonus to Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
All this stuff aside, it is of course Tekken Tag Tournament 2 which is the most important aspect of the game, and given that we have been fed with some bad multiformat versions for the Wii U in the past, I had low expectations. But unlike other games, Namco has done the job thoroughly. Nothing has been lost, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition looks just as good as the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 version, with a really smooth frame rate. It might even be a little nicer to look at, but without being able to pinpoint why.
Namco has also refrained from forcing on us players the Wii U Gamepad screen. Instead, it is only used for up to four shortcuts on combos, which is more than enough for the game to feel varied and fun for beginners, but not so much that the game is destroyed by being completely broken. The single problem with this I can think of is that the current Wii U setup only can have one Wii U Gamepad connected to a unit, so two players can not use the same opportunities if playing locally.
To me it is obvious that you should refrain from all kinds of help in fighting games anyway, and ideally you should have an arcade stick to be playing at any higher level. Fortunately, the Wii U controller is no worse than, say, Dual Shock 3 for fighting, and works great for "Average Joe" fighting. And after all, it's just a plus that the possibility exists for a player; you can choose not to use it.
In addition, the Wii U Gamepad screen can also used to play Tekken Tag Tournament 2 without a TV, which has been used more than I expected. It's just fun to be able to pick it up for some quick fights before bed or something similar.
One of my biggest complaints about the original Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was how little new gameplay content Namco had been added since Tekken 6. But the Wii U version has gained so many new things and the game is more accessible to a wider audience: this feels like the definitive version.