Normally, fighting games aren’t for me. I have neither the patience nor desire to learn all the moves and master them so that I can spend hours on a single play at the arcades, defeating all opponents who dare to approach the arcade machine. There are, however, a few exceptions to this rule. The Street Fighter, Tekken and Soul Blade franchises have always managed to gain my attention. Tekken 3 is now 23 years old. The question is, does it still hold up?
Tekken 3 is a fighting game, and the third instalment in the Tekken franchise. It was developed and published by Namco and was released in the arcade in 1997 before being ported to the PlayStation in 1998. The arcade version was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2005, and re-released on PlayStation Classic Mini in 2018. Although I have previously owned Tekken 3 on the PlayStation, I chose to review the PlayStation Classic Mini version.
15 years after Tekken 2, Heihachi Mishima has established a paramilitary defence force, known as Tekken Force, to protect his company. Upon searching an ancient temple, they unwittingly release an ancient demon known as Ogre. Ogre proceeds to travel the world killing martial artists. In order to lure Ogre into a trap, Heihachi organises a third Iron Fist tournament.
You chose from one of 21 characters (11 of which need to be unlocked by completing the game with different characters) and fight each other character in one on one combat. If you win, you move onto the next fight. Each character has their own unique back stories, endings and fighting styles. There were two characters only available on PlayStation: Dr. Boskonovitch and Gon.
The basics of the game are easy to learn. Advance, retreat, left punch, right punch, left kick, right kick, jump etc. However, this is a 3D game, so you are able to side step into the back and foreground. If you’re close enough to the opponent and perform a throw, your character will perform different throws depending on which way your opponent is facing. During the fights, you are able to access the move manual which shows you how to perform a large array of moves, which is handy for beginners.
The Returning Characters Were:
Anna Williams – Younger sister of Nina Williams, she was placed in suspended animation after the second Iron Fist Tournament. Before the third tournament she was reanimated. She follows Nina into the third tournament in a bid to help her regain her memory and to stop her from becoming an assassin again.
Heihachi Mishima – Head of Mishima Zaibatsu and grandfather of Jin Kazama, he arranges the third Iron Fist Tournament to lure Ogre into the open.
Lei Wulong – A respected detective, Lei has entered the tournament to investigate the disappearance of the martial artists masters.
Nina Williams – After failing to assassinate Kazuya Mishima in the last tournament, Nina was forced to become a test subject for cryogenic experiments. She has been reawakened by Ogre’s powers and plans to assassinate Jin Kazama.
Paul Phoenix – Frustrated by letting victory in the previous tournament slip from his grasp, he has renewed his training. He is determined not to let victory escape him this time.
Yoshimitsu – Leader of the Manji Clan, Yoshimitsu and his clan act as a modern day Robin Hood abs his Merry Men. Upon learning his friend Dr. Bosconovitch needs Ogre’s blood to survive, he has entered the tournament to help the man who once saved him.
Bryan Fury – A cyborg kickboxer who plans to kidnap Dr. Bosconovitch for his creator Dr. Abel.
Dr. Bosconovitch – Elderly genius scientist and friend of Yoshimitsu. Currently imprisoned by the Mishima Zaibatsu.
Eddy Gordo – Eddy seeks to avenge his father who was killed by the “Organsiation”, and were also responsible for him being thrown in jail. By winning the Iron Fist Tournament, he hopes to take over the Mishima Financial Empire and use their resources against the “Organisation”.
Forest Law – Son of Marshal Law, he was persuaded to enter the Iron Fist Tournament by Paul Phoenix where he can prove himself to his father.
Gon – An unlockable fighting dinosaur.
Gun Jack – Third in the series of the Jack robots. He has been sent into the tournament to retrieve the memory data of Jack 2.
Hwoarang – Hwoarang has two motives for entering the Iron Fist Tournament. The first is to defeat Ogre who killed his mentor, Baek. The second, is to defeat Jin, who he had previously lost to in a fight.
Jin Kazama – Jin is Jun Kazama’s son. He was trained by his grandfather, Heihachi, and seeks to defeat Ogre in order to avenge the death of his mother.
Julia Chang – Adopted daughter of Michelle Chang. She has entered the tournament to rescue he mother who has been kidnapped by Mishima Zaibatsu.
King II – A protege of the original King, who was killed by Ogre, King II wishes to become a professional wrestler and take over his mentor’s orphanage.
Kuma II – Son of the original Kuma, he is Heihachi’s loyal bodyguard.
Ling Xiaoyu – Ling is a huge fan of amusement parks. She wishes to win the Iron Fist Tournament to raise enough money to build an amusement park in China.
Mokujin – A 2000 year old training dummy who has been brought to life by Ogre’s release.
Panda – Xiaoyu’s pet and bodyguard.
Tiger Jackson – A disco man with an afro. Basically, a palette swap of Eddy Gordo.
Ogre – The God of Fighting, he is a mysterious humanoid who is immortal.
True Ogre – Ogre’s true self.
How Does It Handle?
Although you can just pick this game up and play, it really pays to practice your character’s moves and learning how to perform them by heart. The controls are responsive and it is easy to play.
Ok, let’s not beat around the bush. This game is awesome! There really is no disputing that statement. I remember when this game came out. I was blown away by the graphics. Colourful, distinctive characters, varied fighting arenas and a gorgeous looking intro character endings. Although nowadays, it looks a little rough around the edges, I still think it looks great and, graphically, has held up.
As well as the standard Arcade/Story Mode and Two Player Vs. Mode, there are several other modes which really add to the replay value of this game:
Team Battle Mode – Each team chooses four players in a winner stays on fight. The first defeat all characters in the other team wins.
Survival Mode – Choose a character to fight with and see how many fights you can win consecutively. You gain back a little bit of energy after each fight, but not much. You cannot change the difficulty setting, time limit or number of rounds. There is no option for Player 2 to join.
Time Attack Mode – Compete against the clock to complete all stages. Again, you cannot change the difficulty setting, time limit or number of rounds. You cannot change characters when continuing and Player 2 cannot join.
Tekken Force Mode – This beat ‘em up style mode sees you fight your way through several levels battling the Tekken Force. Although it was a nice idea, this mode falls a bit flat in practice. It’s a poor man’s side-scrolling beat ‘em up.
Practice Mode – Pretty self-explanatory.
Tekken Ball Mode – This is great fun. It’s beach volleyball, but using fighting moves to hit the ball. The stronger your attack, the more power the ball absorbs until it finally hits someone, dealing them a devastating blow, or until it hits the floor.
Theatre Mode – This mode allows you to re-watch all the FMV sequences that you have unlocked in the game.P
You’ll have hours and even weeks of enjoyment out of this one. I’ll say it, this game is amazeballs! My favourite character to play with is Hwoarang. Some of his kick combinations are phenomenal, and I throroughly enjoy kicking my little brother’s butt with him.
Did I Complete The Game?
Yes, I unlocked all videos, modes and characters
What The Critics Said:
Allgame: “It’s loads of fun with quick and deep gameplay that’ll keep you, your friends, and most of the gamers in this genre busy for weeks and months on end. Overall 4.5/5“.
Computer and Video Games: “Fantastic! Own the arcade at home, plus a whole bunch of new features and characters. Overall 5/5”.
Edge Magazine: “Edge’s only – slight – reservation is that those who have played Tekken 2 to the point of exhausting all enthusiasm for the game may not find this new version initially appealing. Those prodigal sons should persevere, as even a short sequence of bouts will bring the reward of instant addiction. Make no mistake, the master has returned. Overall 9/10”.
Entertainment Weekly: “Building on its predecessors (both all-time PlayStation best-sellers), the latest version has crisper graphics and speedier martial-arts animation. Watch the characters sidestep, punch, and kick in their beautifully detailed costumes, and you’ll think you’re performing in a ballet choreographed by Jackie Chan. Overall A”.
Game Informer: “Tekken 3 is just plain awesome. Tekken 2 is still one of my favorite(sic) fighters, but 3 just puts it to shame. There are so many unique fighters like Lei, King, Gordo, and Hwoarang that can be played by anyone; but only a select few will be able to master their fighting styles. It is a shame though that the 1-player Arcade mode can still be beaten on Easy set at one round, but the Force Mode does make for some very interesting and entertaining 1-player fighting. Of course, 2-player mode is where Tekken 3 is at. Spend a night unlocking the characters and a lifetime battling it out with your friends. If you only buy one fighting game this year, make it Tekken 3. Overall 9.5/10”.
GamePro: “There’s no arguing that other games will try to topple Tekken 3, but that’s a tall order to fill. Trust us-Tekken 3 is the best fighting game ever. Overall 5/5“. 
Game Revolution: “All in all, Tekken 3 ranks as one of the best console fighting games ever…If you have a PlayStation, and you love fighting games, the decision to buy this game is a no-brainer. If you’re still dropping quarters in the arcade version, forget it, just get the home version. With everything that the arcade version has and more, this is one of the few times that a console game outshines its arcade counterpart. Overall 4.5/5”.
GameSpot: “Not much stands between Tekken 3 and a perfect 10 score. If the PlayStation exclusive characters were better and Force mode a bit more enthralling, it could have come closer to a perfect score. Needless to say, Tekken 3 is the best PlayStation game to come along in a long time, and this one won’t be topped anytime soon. Overall 9.9/10”.
IGN: “Tekken 3 on the PlayStation is the most well-rounded fighting package on the market. Not only does it provide an excellent fighting game, but the extra modes and practice features make it the benchmark for fighters to come. The only gripe that we’d have with it is that Namco’s set the bar so high that we shudder with anticipation and dread over what the designers’ll have to do to top this. Overall 9.3/10”.
Next Generation: “There is no better fighting game, on this system or any other. It’s clearly superior to the previous games in the series and a stunning value for Tekken aficionados. Overall 4.5/5”.
Best Fighting Game – 1998 Best of E3 Game Critics Awards
Fighting Game of the Year – 1998 Gamers’ Choice Awards
Best Fighting Game of the Year – Video Games Awards
“Great graphics (with the exception of a few shaky parts) and great gameplay, full of unique characters and storylines. There is plenty here to keep you coming back for more time and time again. The game has aged very well and still feels fresh.”
What are your memories of Tekken 3? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.
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 (May 1998). ‘Game Informer – Tekken Care of business’. Internet Wayback Machine. (https://web.archive.org/web/19990911170224/http://www.gameinformer.com/cgi-bin/review.cgi?sys=psx&path=may98&doc=tek3 Accessed on 14th August 2020).
 Scary Larry. (November 24, 2000). GamePro – Tekken 3 Review Internet Wayback Machine. (https://web.archive.org/web/20090107235810/http://www.gamepro.com/article/reviews/207/tekken-3/ Accessed 14th August 2020).
 Ferris., C., (June 4th 2004). ‘Tekken 3 Review’. Gamerevolution. (https://www.gamerevolution.com/review/34070-tekken-3-review Accessed 14th August 2020).
 Gerstmann, J., (March 30, 1998). ‘Tekken 3 Review’. Gamespot.com. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/tekken-3-review/1900-2549648/ Accessed on 14th August 2020).
 ‘Tekken 3 Review’. Next Generation. (June 1998). Issue 42:138-140.
 ‘1998 Gamer’s Choice Awards’. Electronic Gaming Monthly. (April 1999). Issue 117:112.
 ‘Video Games Awards’. Game Informer. (February 1999). Issue 70:25.