All About Tekken 4: A Deep Dive into the Unique Entry of the Series

Tekken, a flagship series in the fighting game genre, has been captivating players since its inception. With each new release, Namco Bandai has pushed the boundaries of gameplay and storytelling. Among these titles, Tekken 4 stands out as a unique and experimental entry. In this post, we’ll explore all about Tekken 4, its features, gameplay mechanics, and its place in the Tekken legacy.

Tekken 4, released in 2001 for arcades and in 2002 for the PlayStation 2, introduced significant changes to the series, including environmental hazards and a darker storyline. These changes received mixed reactions from the community, making Tekken 4 one of the most debated entries in the series. Let's delve into the history, gameplay, and impact of Tekken 4 to understand its unique place in the Tekken franchise.

Background of the Tekken Series

The Tekken franchise began its journey in the arcades in 1994, with its first home release on the Sony PlayStation in 1995. It quickly became a favourite among fighting game enthusiasts, thanks to its innovative mechanics and a compelling roster of characters. Each instalment built upon the success of its predecessor, introducing new characters, stages, and gameplay features that kept fans engaged.

Tekken 1 introduced players to a 3D fighting experience where each limb of a character was controlled independently using a button for each limb. This control scheme was revolutionary at the time and set the foundation for future instalments. Tekken 2 expanded on this foundation by adding more fighters, refined graphics, and smoother gameplay. By the time Tekken 3 was released, the series had reached a new pinnacle with the introduction of motion capture technology, bringing a level of realism to the characters' movements that were unparalleled in fighting games.

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Tekken 4: Release and Reception

Tekken 4 was released in 2001 for arcades and in 2002 for the PlayStation 2. The anticipation for this game was immense, given the high bar set by Tekken 3. Upon release, Tekken 4 garnered generally positive reviews from critics who praised its innovative mechanics and graphical enhancements. However, the player community was divided in their opinions.

Initial Reception:

  • Critics: Generally positive reviews for innovation and graphics.
  • Players: Mixed reactions due to gameplay changes and character balancing issues.

The game was compared heavily to its predecessors. While Tekken 3 was known for its fast-paced action and tight controls, Tekken 4 slowed things down and introduced new elements such as environmental hazards. This shift in pace and focus was jarring for many fans who had grown accustomed to the frenetic action of earlier games. The darker, more serious tone of the story also contrasted with the lighter, more playful elements present in previous titles.

Unique Features of Tekken 4

Tekken 4 introduced several unique features that set it apart from its predecessors. One of the most notable changes was the inclusion of environmental hazards. Unlike previous Tekken games, which featured mostly flat, open stages, Tekken 4’s stages were filled with obstacles like walls and pillars that players could use to their advantage. This added a new strategic layer to the gameplay, as players had to be aware of their surroundings and use the environment to gain the upper hand.

Another significant addition was the ability to move around before the fight officially started. This pre-fight movement allowed players to position themselves strategically, adding a tactical element to the game right from the start. This feature, however, was unique to Tekken 4 and did not return in subsequent instalments.

The game also introduced new characters such as Steve Fox, a British boxer, and Craig Marduk, a powerful Vale Tudo fighter. These characters brought fresh fighting styles and moves to the series, while fan favourites like Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama made their return, further enriching the roster.

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Gameplay Mechanics

Tekken 4’s gameplay mechanics represented a departure from the series’ traditional fast-paced combat. The overall speed of the game was reduced, making battles more strategic and methodical. This change was intended to complement the new environmental hazards, encouraging players to think more about their positioning and movement.

The interaction with stage elements was a game-changer. Players could use walls and obstacles to their advantage, performing wall slams and extended combos that utilized the environment. This added a new level of depth to the gameplay, but it also introduced balancing challenges. Some characters, like Jin Kazama, were seen as overpowered due to their ability to exploit these mechanics more effectively than others.

The character roster was smaller compared to the Tekken Tag Tournament, which featured a large selection of fighters from previous games. This reduction in roster size, combined with the balancing issues, led to mixed reactions from the competitive community. Despite these challenges, Tekken 4’s gameplay innovations laid the groundwork for future entries in the series.

Tekken Force Mode

One of the standout features of Tekken 4 was the Tekken Force mode. This beat 'em up mini-game allowed players to fight waves of enemies in an over-the-shoulder perspective, providing a fun and engaging diversion from the main fighting game mechanics.

In Tekken Force mode, players could choose from a variety of characters and fight through four stages, each filled with Heihachi Mishima’s Tekken Force soldiers. The objective was to defeat all enemies and progress through the stages, eventually facing Heihachi himself. Along the way, players could pick up health and power-ups to aid them in their quest.

This mode was well-received by players who enjoyed the change of pace and the additional content it provided. It showcased the game’s versatility and added replay value, contributing to the overall appeal of Tekken 4.

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Story and Characters

The storyline of Tekken 4 delved deeper into the complex relationships and rivalries within the Mishima family. After the events of Tekken 3, Heihachi Mishima continued his quest for power by attempting to splice his own DNA with that of Ogre, the powerful creature defeated in the previous tournament. His experiments were unsuccessful, leading him to seek out his son Kazuya, who possessed the Devil Gene.

Kazuya, who had been resurrected by the biotech firm G Corporation, sought revenge against his father. The rivalry between Heihachi, Kazuya, and Jin Kazama, Heihachi’s grandson, formed the core of the narrative. Jin, who also possessed the Devil Gene, was manipulated and captured by Heihachi, setting the stage for a dramatic showdown.

New characters like Steve Fox and Craig Marduk added fresh dynamics to the story. Steve, a British boxer with a mysterious past, brought a unique fighting style to the game, while Marduk, a powerful Vale Tudo fighter, added a new level of brute force. These new characters, along with returning favourites, enriched the game’s roster and provided players with a diverse range of fighting styles to master.

Music and Visuals

Tekken 4’s music marked a departure from the high-energy tracks of previous games. The soundtrack featured more atmospheric and ambient compositions, creating a moodier and more immersive experience. While some fans appreciated this shift, others missed the adrenaline-pumping beats that had characterized earlier Tekken games.

Visually, Tekken 4 was a significant step forward. The game utilized the power of the PlayStation 2 to deliver realistic textures, dynamic lighting, and detailed character models. The use of motion capture technology for character movements added a level of fluidity and realism that was impressive for its time.

Compared to other fighting games of the era, Tekken 4 stood out for its graphical fidelity and attention to detail. It competed well with titles like Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive, establishing itself as one of the visually impressive games of its generation.

Controversy and Criticism

Despite its innovations, Tekken 4 was not without its criticisms. The game’s slower combat speed and emphasis on environmental hazards were divisive. While some players appreciated the added strategic depth, others found it disrupted the fast-paced action that had defined the series.

Character balancing was another major issue. Certain characters, such as Jin Kazama, were seen as overpowered, leading to frustrations in competitive play. These balancing issues were compounded by the smaller roster size, which limited the variety of matchups.

The game’s darker tone and more serious storyline also received mixed reactions. While it added a new level of depth to the narrative, some fans missed the lighter, more playful elements present in previous games.

Overall, Tekken 4’s reception was mixed. It was praised for its innovations and visual improvements but criticized for its gameplay changes and balancing issues.

Retrospective and Final Thoughts

In retrospect, Tekken 4 is viewed as an experimental and unique entry in the Tekken series. Its bold choices and innovations paved the way for future games, even if they were not universally well-received at the time. The game’s environmental hazards and slower combat speed introduced new strategic elements that influenced the design of subsequent titles.

Today, Tekken 4 is appreciated for its contributions to the series and its willingness to take risks. While it may not be the most beloved entry, it holds a special place in the hearts of many fans who appreciate its unique features and ambitious design.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What makes Tekken 4 different from other Tekken games? 

Ans: Tekken 4 introduced environmental hazards, slower combat, and a darker storyline, setting it apart from its predecessors.

Q2. Who are the new characters in Tekken 4? 

Ans: New characters include Steve Fox and Craig Marduk.

Q3. What is the Tekken Force mode? 

Ans: Tekken Force is a beat 'em up mini-game where players fight waves of enemies in an over-the-shoulder perspective.

Q4. Why was Tekken 4 criticized for character balancing? 

Ans: Characters like Jin Kazama were considered overpowered, leading to frustrations in competitive play.

Q5. How did Tekken 4’s music differ from previous games? 

Ans: The music in Tekken 4 was more atmospheric and ambient, a shift from the energetic tracks of earlier instalments.

Q6. What is the main storyline of Tekken 4? 

Ans: The story focuses on the Mishima family feud, with Heihachi, Kazuya, and Jin Kazama as central characters.

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