Review: ‘Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition’ – No TKO Here

You can’t play “Tekken Tag Tournament 2 Wii U Edition” with a GamePad. I mean, you can but you really wouldn’t want to.

Two months after Namco Bandai’s very good fighter made its way to the PS3 and Xbox 360, we’ve got an even more feature-rich of the game on the Wii U. And while “TTT2 Wii U” is more or less the same game you might have been playing back in September, it’s not one that fighting fans can readily play with the Wii U base hardware, it’s not a game without some performance issues, and it’s simply not the optimal way to play “Tekken Tag Tournament 2.”

Every feature from the 360 and PS3 release appears to have made its way over to the Wii U–Arcade mode, Fight Lab, online multiplayer, and character customization are here on the Wii U with the addition of some cool second screen support should you find yourself using the GamePad. Your characters’ moves are displayed on the GamePad screen during matches where you can also tap in combos and single moves–something that might be useful to less adept fighters, but then you’re looking down at the touchpad and not the game on the screen. I will say it’s cool being able to switch to the GamePad-only display, but again, that involves playing a fighter on the unwieldy controller.

I’m giving the GamePad a little grief here because it’s a really terrible way to try to play the game. Your hands separated by the width of the controller, it’s a challenge to simply orient your fingers to the correct button inputs. Plus, in a bizarre move, “TTT2 Wii U” doesn’t allow use of the left stick for movement, forcing you to rely on the d-pad. And for the moment, there’s no Wii U fighting stick, so really high-level play isn’t exactly a possibility on the console.

I took the game online and found the performance to be pretty satisfactory–matches connected with about the speed they did back in September on the other two platforms and I didn’t experience any real lag or other issues. Wii U newbies note that you’ll need a Nintendo profile to go online, but you probably created one during your initial console setup.

Exclusive to the Wii U version of “TTT2″ are two modes–one new, one classic resurrected from “Tekken 3.” The latter is Tekken Ball, where two players volley a beach ball back and forth, charging it up with special attacks to chip away at their opponent’s health, supporting up to four players. It gets a tag twist here with tag combos adding a slowdown effect and some extra power to the ball. Mushroom Battle is your typical 1v1 fight with the addition of mushrooms that shrink or grow you and your opponent along with stars giving you temporary invincibility (and techno and dubstep mixes of classic “SMB” tunes). More fun in theory than execution though, Mushroom Mode matches are so short and not at all customizable, making this mode feel more like a demo for the actual mode more than anything else. Both of these modes are local, so don’t go looking to start pro Mushroom Mode brackets online anytime soon. For the customization types, you don’t have to jerry rig your own Link or Mario costume, with Namco Bandai adding some Nintendo-specific costume presets in the character customization.

I didn’t get into some of the curious optimization issues strewn throughout the game because they’re not a huge deal–just kind of annoying. Some of the load times seem a bit excessive, particularly the initial splash screen on starting up the disc. Plus, what kind of performance drag is going on that the lower screen text crawl stutters in between matches? No idea, but it’s weird.

There are two really good versions of the excellent “Tekken Tag Tournament 2″ out there and then there’s this one. Sure it has some added bells and whistles, but between the out-of-the-box experience (seriously, you need to have a Pro Controller for this one) and some minor menu and interface quirks, you’d be better off sticking with the PS3 and 360 offerings.

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