TBT: Tekken 3 – Jin Kazama (Tekken’s Turning Point)

I had a lot of fun memories playing Tekken 3. Any one of you feel the same?


December is the anniversary of the first Tekken game but we will not be visiting that installment. Instead we’ll be looking at Tekken 3, a game that many would say is one of the best Tekken game to date. What other song to better represent the birth of a new Tekken era than the new protagonist’s theme song. Here is the extended version of Jin Kazama’s theme.


Who is Jin Kazama?

Jin Kazama serves as the main protagonist in Tekken 3 largely because he is featured prominently in the story and as the face of the game. His story is of revenge against the main boss of Tekken 3, who killed his mother. To avoid spoilers, I will only say that his ending serves as the basis for the story of Tekken 4.

What is so Great About Tekken 3?

Tekken 3 is what I consider, the best thing that happened to the series. It came out for the arcade in 1997 and for home consoles in 1998. It is the game that cements the core mechanic of the latter sequels. Tekken 3 has also received many critical acclaims over the years. Truly one of the best games that showcases the PlayStation console’s capability as a couch gaming titan.

If you care about story in any fighting game, or at least the Tekken lore, Tekken 3 is where the story gets interesting (before it gets more convoluted as the sequels rolled onto the shelves). The characters’ individual stories are also slowly fleshed out. Yes, you may argue that story is not necessary, but we shall save that for another day.

Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 Graphics
Tekken 2 and Tekken 3 Graphics

Of course, if you care about graphic improvement, Tekken 3 is a great example of how the series evolved visually. The improvements over the previous version are quite noticeable. Many fighting game aficionados also noticed the better fluidity of animation in the third game. Unfortunately I was but a wee chocobo mug, and was too young to notice the difference when I started playing it.

Oh, a tidbit of info for those of you not familiar with the series: though the names of the characters above are the same, the two Law characters shown above are not the same person. Marshall Law is the name of the Bruce Lee homage character in Tekken and Tekken 2 (above left). In Tekken 3, it is his son, Forest Law, who replaces the dad. While Paul Phoenix is the same Paul that appears in every single Tekken game. Yes, he is one of four characters to share the same honor.

A couple of new modes to the game are the Tekken Force and Tekken Ball modes. Tekken Force is a mini beat ’em up game where you will have to go through a series of side-scrolling stages and fight different characters. There is some non-canonical story behind it with a reward of a bonus unlock-able character if you manage to complete the mode several times. Tekken Ball is what would happen if Tekken fighters competed in a beach volleyball tournament. It is a very fun addition to the game which I will talk about soon.

Some Interesting Changes to the Game

Though the fighting mechanics are largely unchanged from the second game, there are some improvements to how characters move as well as the overall animation.

One drastic change to the movement is the jump height and distance. In both Tekken and Tekken 2, the characters are able to jump as high and far as you can see in the video above. Tekken 3 reduces the distance and height to something more realistic (still quite high and far, but not as jarring). This change means dodging moves by jumping and punishing downed character from far away is no longer possible.

The game also added the sidestepping mechanic to the movement where your character could move towards the screen or away to the background. This movement is possible when your character is standing or lying down (the character will roll on the ground instead). This means that dodging attacks can also be done by sidestepping. Some characters even have different throw moves if they are perpendicular to the opponent.

Attacking your opponents feels great, largely due to better and snappier animation. Even with introduction of new characters, the development team did a great job making them feel alive.

Sidestep History

Just a clarification, moving through the “new” third dimensional axis was not a new mechanic by the time Tekken 3 was made. Ever since gaming machines are able to render three-dimensional models, there have been efforts to replicate three-dimensional movements.

Battle Arena Toshinden 2
Battle Arena Toshinden 2

An early example of this in the fighting game genre is the Battle Arena Toshinden series that also came out for PlayStation starting from 1994. It is often credited as the game that popularized three-dimensional movements, a seemingly small change that revolutionized the genre.

Perhaps the biggest influence and reason for Namco, Tekken‘s developer, to implement the mechanic is the success of Soul Edge. Another fighting game developed by Namco, Soul Edge (also called Soul Blade in certain releases) received great success when it was launched for the PlayStation console in 1996. Soul Edge was the first of Namco’s fighting games to implement the side-stepping movement mechanic.

Fun New Characters

With the new game comes a group of totally new characters. No, I am not talking about Forest Law who is essentially the same character as his father. I am talking about new characters with new move sets such as Eddy Gordo, Ogre/True Ogre (the boss character which you can also unlock and play as), Ling Xiaoyu, and Gon.

Eddy Gordo’s Capoeira moves are perhaps the most abused by beginners. It is easy to button-mash by pressing Circle or X and defeat, or at least irritate, your opponent. Gordo may have popularized the stylish Brazilian martial art Capoeira to the gaming masses.

Gon VS Paul
Gon VS Paul

Perhaps the most ridiculous bonus addition to the console release character roster is Gon, a dinosaur-like creature from a manga of the same name by Masashi Tanaka. Definitely a fun character to play as and an annoying opponent to face. His shorter stature means high and some medium height attacks are not able to reach him.

Gon facing a large tiger
Gon facing a large tiger

Gon is quite agile and powerful, but has much shorter reach to balance out his smaller hit area. He is also the only non Tekken character to appear. Many fans requested for Gon to appear in later games but due to certain issues, including licensing, it is still not possible. His ending movie is the only one in Tekken 3 that loops.

Personal Memories of Playing Tekken 3

I remember playing Tekken 3 with my younger bro and some friends. It is the first game where I was interested enough to learn and train on the combo for a couple of characters. Note that I am nowhere near a decent player’s level of understanding.

Playing the Tekken Ball mode is the most fun I had with this game. The mini game itself is not very deep (maybe I am wrong) but it is very satisfying. The mechanic of the game, for those who are not familiar, is to attack the beach ball so that the ball hits the opponent therefore causing damage. Unlike the normal mode, hitting your opponent does not deal damage but you may cause him/her to stagger and be vulnerable.

The beach ball, when attacked, stores the damage value. If the opponent hits the ball back, the value of that attack is added. There is a maximum amount of stored damage that will cause the ball to be burning. When the fiery ball finally hits someone, the character will be set on fire too.

Any Tekken fans out there? Let us know what some of your favorite moments playing the game. I will see you next week!


Sources: GamesRadar, Giant Bomb, and Tekken Wikia.

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About the Author

Astra W

I am a Chocobo mug who loves puns and is driven by the thirst for nostalgia. You will usually find me writing about days past like an old person. Other than that, I usually gawk at different visual arts or exercising my fingers on games. Or napping in the kitchen cabinet.

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