February 28, 2012
To start off, there are very few modes for you to sink your teeth into. In fact, if you're playing offline, there's only one mode that's even worth your time - special survival. Here, you'll square off against a finite amount of enemy fighters as you look to try and beat the target number. Every ten fights, there's also a special battle, sometimes with hidden criteria. One example is only being able to damage your foe while they're in the air. It switches things up a bit, and helps to negate any monotony that might creep in after constantly fighting over and over.
Your only other option is to choose "Quick Battle" - there isn't even a straight Arcade Mode. It's very disappointing to say the least and it's quite surprising that Namco Bandai didn't attempt to give the game some more substance. There's a "card" system, but it's hardly something to jump up and down about. Performing actions will unlock cards (there are 765 in total), and these can then be traded via StreetPass. It's a nice addition, but it's a pretty poor reason to want to boot the game up.
When it comes to the gameplay, the game has made a solid transition over from the home consoles. Anyone who's used to playing Tekken with the d-pad will feel right at home - you should be able to pull off all the combos you know with relative ease. This is one aspect of the game that's done very well.
To help new players to the scene, Namco Bandai has also taken the popular choice and given you four different mini-combos to choose from via the touch pad. Even if you're a veteran, it's still quite handy to just tap the screen and have it perform either a small combo, or a powerful move and it doesn't detract from performing normal combo strings at all.
The range of characters featured in the game is also rather impressive, with many long-time stalwarts of the franchise making an appearance. You've got the classic Devil Jin, but there's also Yoshimitsu, Xiaoyu, Baek, Paul Phoenix and Julia. However, there are no options to customise the characters, or even, it seems, to unlock new ones. You're restricted to the characters you start with, each of which has two costumes you can pick from - that's it.
Where you'll want to spend most of your time is with the Versus play, which is either local or online. But again, this side of the experience feels rather lacklustre. While the filtering options are quite nice, allowing you to fight against people who don't use the novice controls, etc., the lag can be rather frustrating. Anyone who plays fighting games, or any similar type of game, knows that lag can be an absolute killer. There's nothing worse than losing to someone you feel you weren't inferior to, because of lag.
The worst thing is, that it can also creep in when playing locally - it isn't just restricted to playing online. It's a real shame that more optimisation couldn't have been put into this aspect of the game, especially when so much of the core package relies on it working well. When it works, it works well, but that shouldn't be the case. It should just work.
Visually, the game makes good use of the 3D technology. Although the backgrounds do lose a bit of their sheen due to their being an "arena". The 3D sometimes forces the illusion to be taken away, but it's a minor detail really. For the most part, the game has very good graphics and strong sound design.
It's also worth noting that the game comes packed in with Tekken: Blood Vengeance, a 3D movie which features numerous characters from the franchise. It's a nice little extra for fans of the series, and heck, it's a 3D movie.
Tekken 3D Prime came to the Nintendo 3DS with a lot of promise, but it failed to deliver in the most fundamental of ways. The gameplay can't be faulted, but when there's no real reason to play the game, it's quite a big flaw. There are so few modes, and so little customisation - the Versus option can also have rather bad lag. It's a real missed opportunity by Namco Bandai to continue the solid stream of fighting games that have appeared on the Nintendo 3DS thus far.
You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.