When I was a young lad of sixteen or so, me and some friends started a band. It was the first of many revolving door bands that this circle of friends would form and break-up throughout high school. And besides our musical proficiency, that first band's biggest roadblock would be Tekken 2. Once a week after school we'd pick up fast food, get together at my buddy's house (because he had the drum set), and more often than not we'd play Tekken 2 instead of actually jamming.
It's funny that Tekken 2 was such a big hit with our group of friends, because I don't think any of us had played the first Tekken. And when more sequels rolled out, we had moved on to other games. For whatever reason it was just that second game that grabbed us.
Years later I explored the series a little more. At one point I picked up Tag Tournament on PS2; another time I actually played Tekken 3 on Dreamcast via the Bleemcast disc. Heck, I even enjoyed Street Fighter X Tekken - though with the caveat that I only liked playing as characters from the Street Fighter roster. So there you have it - I'm about as casual fan of the series as you can get. I LIKE the games just fine, but it's fairly low on my list of fighting series.
That said, I remembered playing Tekken Advance some years back and thinking it was pretty impressive. So I decided to fire it up again last night in the short period of time between my wife and daughter falling asleep and me going to bed. And y'know what? It IS impressive.
Tekken Advance is BASICALLY a port of Tekken 3, arriving three years after its Playstation release. It is missing a couple of the characters however, which I gather is a limitation of the hardware. But what's included really does work well on the system.
Through some technical trickery that I don't really understand, they've made sprites out of the original 3D models. Is this sort of like what Rare did with Donkey Kong Country or Killer Instinct? Maybe. But I'm not going to take the time to go read about it right now because I just don't have the time. Whatever they did, it looks really cool. I mean honestly, this LOOKS like a Playstation game running on the GBA. Which is neat.
But looks can be deceiving and this is effectively a 2D fighter here. Of course the controls are going to be dumbed-down or refined or however you want to look at it. So now you've got Kick and Punch mapped to the face buttons, while the shoulder buttons manage Throws and Tags. It's basic, but it works. Before too long I was starting to string together some combos and feel fairly comfortable with the controls.
At the end of the day, Tekken is not my chosen fighting game. It's cut from the same cloth as more technical games in the genre like Virtua Fighter. I mean, I understand the appeal but I've never had the time nor energy to really understand these kinds of games' systems - never mind get good at them.
But Tekken Advance is a solid portable fighting game. And it's something I'd hang on to and revisit again in the future. I'll probably be impressed with it again next time I play it as well.