The King of Iron Fist Retrospective Part 2 - Tekken 2

Tekken 2 poster

This is bullshit, Jeff. If you keep spamming the eye lasers I'm taking my Dualshock and going home.

It has come to my attention that some apologies are in order to my constituents as to the lateness of this piece. Upon editing the last piece, Mr. Pataki saw my thoughtless comments as to the appeal of Armor King. He subsequently put me in a combination Boston Crab/Figure Four Leg Lock with a Bret "The Hitman" Hart bolt-action modification. This is an extremely painful move that would have landed a lesser content-producer in the hospital, but I just rubbed some dirt in it and went sobbed for a couple days in the Terrible Office lobby. Don't talk to me about days off; I've cultivated a brand that's too strong to delay premium content. Regardless, this is a dark day for I thoroughly regret the callousness of my words, and hope that we can all move forward to heal the community. I acknowledge that this game has added both a Thunder God Fist and Wind God Fist to Armor King’s repertoire, and I will not make the same mistake again. I also acknowledge that he looks totally badass with his spiked Oakland Raiders-fan/Road Warrior style shoulderpads. Let us join hands and pray.

Right, now that I've done my penance, it's about time we recognize Tekken 2 as being perhaps one of the most impressive sequels of all time in terms of marked improvement over its previous iteration. The graphics are much better, the movesets are vastly increased, the control is far more smooth and fluid, there are more modes of play (including the essential practice mode), there are more characters (with more diverse fighting styles), the difficulty is more forgiving, the art direction is vastly improved, the music and sound effects are substantially better, and the action is quicker. That's my review, see you guys next time. 

This is one of those games that convinced me to try out for my local youth wrestling team, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. Going back and replaying it, it still holds up as a more-than-decent game. The little touches, like finding out about secret sidesteps, the characters thinking about fruit if you leave them idol, the screen shaking with the impact of every punch after you tackle someone, and Kuma eating a person’s chest cavity sounding like Walter Brennan eating a can of Pringles, all add up to one of the most memorable experiences of my childhood. I'd say it's THE most memorable, but it's gonna take more than volcano tossin' to usurp that time I told my friend on the playground that I was actually a Saiyan and when he asked me where my tail was I kicked him in the balls so hard he threw up and we both got sent home. 

I’m not trying to write a video game review (I may not have pride, but I do have dignity), so I’ll close with this: I’ve had this game for about 20 years and I just learned this week that if you’re Paul and you counter King’s frankensteiner, you can turn it into a jumping powerbomb. I didn’t even know it was possible to counter that. The fact that I’m still surprised by this game is enough to earn a recommendation. More relevant to this blog, the story is much more interesting. The narrative is strongly aided by the intro FMV, which is one of my favorites in all of gaming.

Look at this. This game out in 1996, mind you. This is the same year as Super Mario 64 and Resident Evil, and it looks astounding (given the time period). Upon the closest inspection, yeah, some of the models have a bit of flaws, and I’m not sure why Nina’s hair has more separation than any shampoo commercial can ever boast of, but everything else is astonishingly impressive. The lighting, the shadows, the fact that I can glean a bit of personality from each person just based on what I can see; I seriously let this one play every time I boot up Tekken 2. Not much else is required for explanation: just seeing the intro is enough to understand a substantial amount of the game.  

Well, mostly. The instruction booklet I grew up with (the Greatest Hits edition) doesn’t give any details about the secret characters, so it’s up to you to gather whatever you can from the outfits, fighting styles, music, backgrounds, and ending sequences. Despite my praise for that short introductory video, that’s surprisingly difficult for these characters. Apparently everyone else’s instruction manual contained notes about the secret characters, which is completely unfair bullshit. I've been left to untangle this web of backwards riddles and dinosaurs with nothing but my own ingenuity and headcanon. 

So where the hell are we?
Two years after dumping his father’s limp body off the side of a cliff, Kazuya Mishima has taken over the Mishima Zaibatsu and turned it, somehow, into an even more corrupt organization. I’m talking animal testing, intimidation, kidnapping, murder, deflating footballs, cattle rustlin’, shit-kickin’, you name it. This is somewhat comparable to The Godfather Part II, when Michael Corleone begins engaging in drug trafficking (something that Vito Corleone would never do), except there’s precisely a 0% chance anyone working on this game saw either Godfather movie. Kazuya gets bored, I suppose, of being the wealthiest and most powerful man in the world, and decides to hold yet another martial arts tournament either for shits and giggles or to draw out his enemies. I’m not going to lie, if I had that kinda scratch kickin’ around I’d probably throw a bigass martial arts tournament too. How much money do you think it’d take to get Steven Seagal to face off against Shaquille O’Neal? 

The whole “draw your enemies out” thing seems way more likely; almost no one’s in this for the prize money (I dunno, like a trillion dollars or something). What it all comes down to is the golden opportunity to punch Kazuya Mishima in his big dumb glowering face. Turns out Kazuya’s made a lot of enemies being a grade J asshole, as the game now boasts 27 playable characters. We might as well start off with the protagonist, that’s what all great literature does, and I’m nothing if not the Ernest Hemingway of B-movie review blogs.

Heihachi Mishima

Tekken 2 Heihachi

How does one spend two years climbing out of a ravine? I’ve always operated under the assumption that it’s either a week at most or you just give up and sacrifice yourself to the scorpions. Ever see “Woman in the Dunes”? Never mind. Maybe he was perfecting his P90FootDropX workout. I’d imagine Heihachi’s pretty pissed about getting clifftossed by his dipshit son, so you can imagine he’s all raring to go and ready to smash Kazuya’s Nintendo with a crowbar. You know the rules: don’t slam doors, don’t shit-talk Randolph Scott, and don’t throw Papa Bear off cliffs. Anyway, yeah, he climbed outta that hole in the ground and now he’s hunting up sweet lady vengeance. The manual says he likes “peace of the world” but that’s probably a translation error; knowing Heihachi’s past, he’s probably more interest in a -~*piece*~- of the world.

Paul Phoenix

Tekken 2 Paul

AS USUAL, the best character in the game (Heihachi’s right there with him), Paul’s in it to win it. This isn’t about pizza money, this isn’t about taking down a guy who’s ruining the world with an evil corporation, and it isn’t about possibly discovering more about yourself on a magic journey of self-discovery; this is about slobberknockin’ a couple heads, kickin’ a fool’s mouth in, taking home the gold, and maybe punching a bear in the breadbasket along the way. It’s a shame that won’t happen though: as before, Heihachi’s the canonical winner, mostly because Paul gets stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the final bout. This dude has the worst luck (besides the dude who got tossed off a cliff as a 5-year-old, but whatever). His ending involves him punching a boulder, thereby showing up that dork with an insanely good name, Chris Redfield.

Jun Kazama

Tekken 2 Jun

Paul and Heihachi may be the most fun characters to use, but in terms of importance to the story Jun is probably in the top five. She’s got the same problem Michelle had in the first game: while everyone else is a fighter of at least some renown, Jun is essentially a nobody. She’s just some world wildlife conservationist; a tree-hugging, bleeding-heart, organic-kale-smoothie-drinking, vegan-quinoa-eating, armpit-hair-growing, spaghetti-noodle-spined, Democrat-voting, dove-shitting hippy environmentalist. Like yeah, she’s psychic, big whoop; I still don’t get how that and a certificate from your local karate community center gives you the qualifications to enter in a martial arts tournament, but more power to ya, ma’am. 

She’s another one who isn’t motivated by greed; she’s been tasked with arresting Kazuya for smuggling animals, performing illegal experiments on them, and generally being a very naughty boy. Somehow she was good enough to make it all the way to Kazuya and…have sex with him. Oh Japan, you never cease to, well, be Japan. Guess those hippies really were about “make love, not war”. This is actually one of the more contested moments of the game (and series); the circumstances of their coitus are a bit unexplained. Was it consensual? Was it rape? What was the conversation like? Were they fucking at his stage – like, the one in the game? Did he turn into the Devil before he came? Where’s the cheat code to switch positions? Is this what Japan thinks Pocahontas was about? After she’s tekken his turgid two-incher (this is a cry for help), she just…leaves, I guess. Thanks Glorious Nippon for finding a way to include the walk of shame in a fighting game with bears and robots. 

Lei Wulong

Tekken 2 Lei

Jackie Chan was the shit back in the 90s. Honestly, he’s still kinda the shit today. The creators of the game knew he was popular and inserted him into the game as a character who would quickly become a fan favorite. Seriously, everybody’s gotta love Lei. While he’s not as deep in this game as he would be in later installments, he’s a very welcome change of pace from the other fighting styles, and as he lacks a palette swap, he’s immediately one of the most unique characters in this installment. He’s one of those guys who can attack with his back facing the opponent or lying on the ground, and lots of his moves put him in those positions. It’s a really cool mechanic (that’s totally improved in the next game) and his popularity is totally warranted.
Story-wise is a bit of a mess. He’s obviously out to arrest Kazuya, who’s wanted in China for belonging to “the International Mafia” (glad the Triads and Yakuza were able to work out their differences). He’s also apparently searching for Bruce Irvin, NFL linebacker and muay thai fighter who killed his partner…on a plane…which crashed…and someone got amnesia…I have no idea, it’s about as poorly explained as a Final Fantasy game.

Michelle Chang
Tekken 2 Michelle

Poor Michelle. Another waif with no luck, Michelle got back from the first tournament with nothing really to show for it. She was just happy to see her mom again. Two years pass, she comes home from school one day, probably planning on grabbing a Go-Gurt, sipping some Tang, and watching Cowboys of Moo Mesa, when what happens? BAM that’s a no-mommy household, miss. Mama Chang got kidnapped by Kazuya as part of a plot to lure out Michelle. Turns out she’s got a pendant necklace that either leads to some stupid Incan treasure nonsense or can be used to ward off a Temple Guard so you can continue traversing the temple in hopes of winning a pair of Ratch Techs, some Nesquik, and a weekend in a shitty resort in Mexico. 
Here’s the fucked up part: we never hear from Michelle’s mother ever again. We never saw her (or Mr. Chang, for that matter) in the second game, but in Michelle’s ending, we just see her throw her pendant into the ocean. She’s smiling as she does it. Think about it: if her mother survived, she would’ve been seen somewhere in the ending. Either Michelle failed to save her mother or she just straight up forgot about her. Knowing the Mishimas, it’s more likely the former happened, but I kinda like to think the latter is just as possible, like she just got sick of fighting sword-wielding space ninjas and walked home to Arizona.

Tekken 2 Yoshimitsu

Speaking of sword-wielding space ninjas (okay, he’s not really a space ninja, since Galaga isn’t canonical), Yoshimitsu’s another character who’s been vastly improved. He’s got a three hit combo that does more than 100 damage, he’s got multiple ways of throwing off your opponent with bizarre moves, and – hilariously enough – he has this thing where he commits hara-kiri and the sword pokes your opponent through his body. It pretty much never hits, but it’s hilarious when it does. By the way, you need to see the 1962 movie Harakiri. Editor's Note: You can add these little asides all you want Chris, they won't balance your cinematic karma and cancel out Grumpy Cat's Christmas. Reap what you sow. 
Yoshimitsu must’ve fallen on hard times in the two years between tournaments, because he apparently needed saving from some feeble commie named Dr. Boskonovich. Dr. B. was abducted by Kazuya, and Yoshimitsu’s been tasked with saving him. Unlike Michelle, he actually follows through and saves him while jumping out a helicopter, James Bond-style. It’s not the most interesting story, but at least it’s better than…

Nina Williams

Tekken 2 Nina

Look, I have no idea. I genuinely don’t know where she’s getting her orders. Nina’s an assassin; someone has to be cutting her a check, but no one knows who in this game. Is it the same group that brainwashed her from the first game? Is it the IRA? Is it “the people of Ireland?” Is it Heihachi? Is it the international mafia that Lei’s been working against? No one knows, and really no one should care. She’s tasked with assassinating Kazuya for being a social liability, and wouldn’t you know it, she can’t even pull that off. She fucks up, and has to go home to deliver flowers to her father’s grave. Apparently Anna distracted her or something.  

This is where the developers really tried to sexualize Nina (almost as much as they did with Anna), and it comes off very strangely. With the Basic Instinct reference in the beginning, the extremely low cut alternate outfit, and the weird hair thing from the opening cinematic, it’s clear they were trying to pass her off as the “sexy” character (again, other than Anna). It seems like they wanted to make her the face of the franchise (market analysis shows titties sell better than old men punching cement blocks) to lure in the people who would buy a game because there was a human female with woman breasts on the cover. I thought I might have been looking too deep into something innocuous (as is our mission statement here), and then I remembered Death by Degrees. Do you know who else remembers that game? Fucking nobody.

Nina Williams Death by Degrees
GamerGate was right comma

Like I said last time, it just comes off as bizarre when you consider all the other fighting games and how sexualized their female characters are. She doesn’t come close to games like Dead or Alive, Soulcalibur, or Skullgirls. At first I admired what I thought was Namco’s restraint, but now I realize they just don’t know how to make a woman look sexy.

Marshall Law


I know Law’s supposed to be a pastiche of Bruce Lee, but I kinda prefer to think of him as the logical conclusion of Wang from Big Trouble in Little China. He’s got a Chinese restaurant, he’s got a dojo, he’s got a wife, and he’s got a big dumb beefcake American friend who’s going to get into more trouble than he’s ready for (Paul). Thanks to the Manji Clan’s help, he’s financially secure, but all’s not well in wherever-the-hell he lives (let’s just say it’s Texas). Some crazy dude came in and attacked his dojo, just beating the snot out of all his pupils. Law doesn’t even care about Kazuya, he’s gonna git that sumbitch what knocked the tar outta his dagblasted students. 


Tekken 2 Jack-2

First of all, say thank you. No, really, actually say the words “thank you” out loud. I don’t care whether you’re at work, just say the words, alright? You did? Good. I deserve it. I deserve it for looking up this stupid character’s backstory. I had to find like three different sources to cobble all these details together. He’s a big dumb Russian robot, just like in the first game, but now there’s a) lots of him and b) this model in particular has somehow grown a soul. He finds a little girl named Jane and saves her from…someone or something. He was apparently programmed by the Mishima Zaibatsu Technical division or something and…I think his creator (Dr. Boskonovitch? Maybe?) has been kidnapped by Kazuya. We don’t know who his creator was or why he was kidnapped by Kazuya, and while I could definitely just invent some names and motivation, I was raised not to just make shit up. Either way at the end of the game he’s partying with lil Jane on some tropical island, then some bigass space laser comes down and destroys him. This is something that’ll come back in the next game, because no child in this universe is safe from grief, loss, and unparalleled human misery. Know what’s a lot more interesting than that? His stage’s theme is really obviously inspired by the Terminator 2 theme. Take a listen:


Tekken 2 King

Donating money to an orphanage is a selfless act that I cannot mock in any way. Nor can I mock the feeling of having a defenseless child die in your care. This is a lot like discovering Milla Vodello’s nightmare in Psychonauts in that it brings the humor of the piece to a crunching halt, but I feel like that’s necessary every once in awhile. Since he let a child die in his care, King fell off the wagon, hit the skids hard, crawled inside the bottle, and he’s been there ever since. Luckily, Armor King found him and convinced him to straighten out, get back to training, and enter the second King of Iron Fist Tournament to (what else?) keep funding the orphanage. 

While this isn’t relevant to the story, the absolute best thing that happened to King in this game is the expansion of his throws. I guess this is something Zangief pioneered in Street Fighter, but it’s so much cooler in Tekken 2. King has a variety of ways he can grab an opponent, and if you’re talented enough, you can chain these throws into other throws, and it’s seriously one of the coolest things in the game. There hasn’t really been a joke in this paragraph, so just imagine a 6’3” luchadore with a roaring jaguar mask showing up to a Jacksonville Jaguars game. All I know is I'm not entirely certain that Shahid Khan isn't a member of the Mishima Zaibatsu and I'd rather be thrown into a volcano than watch Blake Bortles play quarterback while I get swamp ass sitting next to a guy wearing a sleeveless t-shirt that says "God Don't Make No Trash."

Lee Chao-lan

Tekken 2 Lee

So, poor Lee went from being Heihachi’s pawn to make Kazuya jealous, to being Kazuya’s pawn to…I guess make a lot of money or something. It can’t be a lot of fun to be your adopted father’s bitchboi, then your adopted brother’s bitchboi. I’m not sure what his role was within the Mishima Zaibatsu; maybe it was generating dynamic content. Canonically, he gets his ass kicked by Heihachi, so it looks like he’s just a guy who can never win. Lee is a very fun character to use; he’s got an infinite kick string, moves from Heihachi/Paul/Law, and some pretty unique stuff that means you always have to be paying attention when you fight him. More importantly than that, his stage features a NASA spaceship, which is pretty hilarious to see. It’d be so much better if you were fighting on top of it, though. Chalk that up under 'missed opportunities' alongside "Kazuya fucks the angel in that opening FMV" and "What does Yoshimitsu's dingus look like."


Tekken 2 Kuma

Well, thank goodness the character model was improved from the Lovecraftian nightmare in the previous game.
Tekken Kuma

The inclusion of Kuma in this game is kinda weird. Not in and of itself, of course; you have to have a joke character, and Paul is explicitly described as a fan of (real life!) pro fighter “Bear Killer” Willy Williams. The weird thing is that, from the ostensibly reputable sources I’ve found, Kuma’s in the tournament for revenge against Paul. I didn’t know bears could think that way, unless they’re from Chicago. Unfortunately for Kuma, he loses pretty handily according to official canon. That’s probably because he’s one of the worst characters in the game, being a really shitty palette swap of Jack-2. That’s one of the few problems of Tekken 2; they understood fans like unique characters, but it’s important to assign unique fighting styles to them, otherwise there’s no real reason to use characters like Kuma unless you like the sound it makes when he gnaws out a fighter’s chest cavity.

Wang Jinrei

Tekken 2 Wang
I gotta stop googling “Wang” with no other qualifiers.
“Oh gosh’n golly gee, I wasn’t able to stop Heihachi from getting tossed into a ravine, maybe I’ll have a shot at stopping his psychotic son from literally taking over the world and obliterating anyone or anything who stands in his way!” says some geriatric karate enthusiast. Even though most of his moves are just straight up ripped off from Michelle, Wang’s actually a pretty competent and easy-to-use character (it helps that he has Paul’s Phoenix Smasher). He’s got some interesting throws, some decent combos, and his slowness is offset by the timing of a skilled player. That being said, a computer controlled Wang is typically the easiest opponent you’ll encounter in the game. As pictured above, his ending involves him drinking some sake (looks like soju) at the grave of (what is believed to be) Heihachi’s father, Jinpachi, who appears as the final boss in a game I’ve never played and never will play. Editor's Note: Oh my sweet summer child, you naive fool. 

Bruce Irvin

Bruce Irvin

Bruce Irvin is the guy Lei’s been chasing. He used to be one hell of a Muay Thai kickboxer in Thailand. You know what Muay Thai is, right? It’s that shit where you attack with your elbows and knees, because if there's one thing I know about Thailand it's that flights are super reasonable and nobody there asks you any questions about why you're visiting or what you'll be taking back home with you. If there's a second thing I know, it's that nothing adds to the thrill of a friendly sparring match like throwing a tornado of elbows and screams into your friend's skull and sending his cerebrum into the Flashpoint Paradox. 

Anyway, Bruce was a great Muay Thai kickboxer. He was paid to throw a match, but instead he killed his opponent. Nice going, Butch Coolidge. He hopped on a plane, got confronted by Lei and…Lei’s partner, I suppose…and in the ensuing fight (and ensuing crash), he somehow escaped and started working for Kazuya. Better than playing for Pete Carroll, right? I love how the ending portrays Bruce as some hero to the local youth when you know damn well he got ejected from Super Bowl 49 for being a little diaper baby.


Tekken 2 Ganryu

NO ONE LIKES THIS DUDE. Seriously, I’m not sure why he’s in this game, and I bet Namco has no idea why he’s in it either. He’s mostly a shorter Jack-2 palette swap with some extremely bad/lame sumo moves. Ganryu really has no motivation to be in the game outside of “he’s Kazuya’s bodyguard,” and Namco most definitely realized that, because they gave him some backstory that isn’t even remotely apparent in the game: he has a big time crush on Michelle. This is really only discovered in Tekken Tag Tournament, which is the first time an animator’s joke in a non-canonical game became part of the official canon (please don’t comment with a correction; I hate using the term “canon” to begin with). It’s never established whether Michelle outright rejects him or is just oblivious to his attempts to catch her attention. Everyone hates Ganryu, so it’s probably the former. I'm assuming he's here because they already had the character model, and that's just one more person they can boast to their roster. It's like when the Dragon Ball Z Budokai games boasted about having over a hundred characters and then you realize they were counting every single form of Super Saiyan. Holy shit guys, grab a 12 pack of Dews because we've got a Code Red: we're gonna be up until the crack of dawn playing as our favorite characters: Third form Frieza and Super Saiyan 1 Kid Goku. 


Tekken 2 Kunimitsu

Alright, so Kunimitsu totally beefed it in the first tournament, but she’s back with a mission: steal Yoshimitsu’s sword. See, if she can steal it, she can give it to her grandfather, who can make a copy of it, which will allow her to become the leader of the Manji Clan. Additionally, since Yoshimitsu lost the sword, she’d become the new leader of the Manji Clan (and I guess Yoshimitsu would die or something). Does that make sense to you? No. Does it matter? No. 

So why does her grandfather need a copy of the sword when the original will get her exactly what she wants? Well…the grandfather just kinda wants one I guess. Maybe he’s like Coach McGuirk that way. Anyway, Kunimitsu has one of those rare endings that is explicitly not canon: she has Yoshimitsu’s sword and even uses it. Since we know Yoshimitsu appears in later games, we know this definitely didn’t happen, and weirdly enough we never again see Kunimitsu in a canonical release. That’s what you get for breaking the rules: you get turned into a woman and then forgotten about.

Anna Williams

Tekken 2 Anna

Alright, now it’s just really explicit how hard they were trying to sexualize this character. Her celebrations include shaking her (polygonal) chest and ass, and every time she gets hit sound like a low moan. Her ending involves a topless (armbra) photograph. Really, it’s kinda sad. The only thing that’s even remotely likable about her is in Nina’s ending, where it’s shown they share the desire to place flower at their father’s grave. I don’t know shit about Anna. I don’t know if she’s an assassin, I don’t know if she’s a grade school teacher, I don’t know if she’s a courtesan; and worst of all, I don’t care. I’m so sick of this character. She’s not a pure palette swap of Nina, but she’s pretty close. I must be in the minority because (extremely horny) fans love her.

Baek Doosan

Tekken 2 Baek
Doo. Doo san. Doo san mich.
I thought of writing this whole section in Korean just to punch up the article, but I might as well make this readable to my general audience, because there is some interesting shit going on. Baek is a good man. Really, he is. Most people, like myself, who played this game already thought that the first time they played it and beat the game with him. He doesn’t showboat, he doesn’t do anything cruel, he just has a locket with him and his father. Turns out, though, this was the guy who came in and kicked all the asses of the students in Law’s dojo (think of that one Bruce Lee movie. No, the other one). Law gets his revenge, and Baek takes some time to reflect. See, the reason he kicked all their asses is he one day accidentally killed his father, and went insane with rage at himself and the world, and decided to take it out on a poor unsuspecting jeet kune do dojo. This is why we have mental health facilities. He has virtually zero useful punches, but that didn’t stop my brother from kicking everyone’s ass with him.

Prototype Jack

Tekken 2 P Jack

Aren't prototypes supposed to be somewhat inferior to the finished product? If so, that's definitely not the case with Prototype Jack. He may lack a few of Jack-2 combo's and he can't do the Russian cossack dance, but he makes up for it with the increased variety of his moves (and those sweet shades). From what I can find, Prototype Jack actually has the funniest backstory in the series. Think back to the first game (and that hilarious hodgepodge body): by tournament's end, he was nearly destroyed by Jack. When he was reactivated, Prototype Jack whined about Jack getting a refit into Jack-2, and kept complaining on and on until he ran out of fuel and sat untouched for months in a Mishima laboratory. After awhile he was somehow connected to a spare fuel supply, whereupon he woke up and immediately went back to bitching about how much he wanted a refit. Kazuya convinced Dr. Bosconovitch (now his hostage) to remodel P. Jack. Instead of putting in some actual time and effort, he gave the big dumb killer robot a hat and sunglasses and convinced him that he was now superior to Jack 2. I guess his motivation is to protect Kazuya/defeat Jack-2, but all I can focus on is the buried structure of Big Ben in his desert island stage. Does this take place in some alternate - perhaps British - universe of Planet of the Apes?

Armor King

Tekken 2 Armor King

Behold - the worst music in the entire game. I'm not going to lie, Armor King was vastly upgraded in this game from the first, and the addition of Wind and Thunder God Fist uppercuts make him a more than viable opponent. The problem remains that he's objectively inferior to vanilla King. He lacks the variety in 10 hit combos, he lacks the chain throws, and even his throws look just a bit lame. After convincing King to enter the tournament for the sake of orphaned children, Armor King decides he's got a thirst for cracked bones too and enters as well. In his ending it's revealed he has a heart condition, but he gets up and stumbles back into the ring to the delight of the crowd. Now I'm not explicitly accusing of Darren Aronofsky of stealing this idea for The Wrestler, but I am explicitly accusing him of stealing this idea for The Wrestler.


Tekken 2 Roger

That illegal animal smuggling Kazuya was getting into? Yeah, turns out he was also conducting illegal genetic experiments on them as well. You know, the illegal genetic experiments that allow marsupials to punch the shit outta people. In reality, the developers got into the quaaludes again, and this time it resulted in a joke character named Roger, a kangaroo. Remember that Looney Tunes episode where they gave boxing gloves to a kangaroo? Well, they put that into a video game for some reason. Roger's an obviously inferior version of King, but he's still fun to use just for novelty's sake.


Tekken 2 Alex

...but Alex is a lot more fun to use, and it's just because he's a dinosaur. Illegal genetic tests are one thing, but now Kazuya's gone and pulled a Jurassic Park on the world. Apparently it's okay when Ash Ketchum does it with the Helix fossil on Cinnabar Island, but it's unsporting to wanna create a boxing mini dinosaur. Alex is an obvious palette swap of Roger, which means there's absolutely no reason to use him if you're trying to win, but that doesn't mean I don't add him to my team battle roster just to hear those tiny dinosaur screams. Alex and Roger also benefit from having easily the best theme song in the game:

Kazuya Mishima

Tekken 2 Kazuya

So you've made it all the way through the game, and you're up against the big boss who planned the whole thing, and ho lee SHIT that music is perfect. That is exactly what I want for final boss music in a martial arts game. Canonically, this is where Kazuya meets both Jun and Heihachi (hopefully separately, knowing what we do about the former). As for Heihachi, it's a vicious, brutal fight, but Heihachi emerges victorious due to his focus and not distracting himself with cheating on taxes or whatever lightweight shit he was doing with the Mishima Zaibatsu before Kazuya took over and made it bigger than U.S. Steel. After his inert body falls to the floor, what should rise up but…


Tekken 2 Devil
Oh fuck. When Kazuya got splattered on the bottom of that cliff, he should’ve died. You really think a five-year-old would’ve survived? Instead, he got a brief visit from the devil, who offered him a chance to survive and take revenge upon his father. I’m not sure what the devil gets out of it besides causing general mayhem, but Kazuya readily accepted. If only they had Sunday School in Japan. The devil gave him the strength to survive and climb his way out of the ravine, and to defeat his father in the previous tournament; probably also influenced him to do dastardly deeds with the Mishima Zaibatsu as well. If I was the devil I’d probably do way worse things than resurrect old dinosaur bones and give ‘em boxing gloves, but that's why he's the Prince of Darkness and I spent my formative years attributing Paul's 10 hit combos to muscle memory.


Tekken 2 Angel

If you press X or O when choosing a character, you’ll get their alternate outfit and a chance to fight Angel instead of devil. According to the game (and The Good Book), everyone has a guardian angel watching over them, and Kazuya’s is in constant battle with the devil that has infested his soul. That might sound pretty intense, but I have my doubts: Devil and Angel (they’re palette swaps) are the two worst fighters in the game. Seriously, they’re complete jokes. They lack Heihachi’s power and Kazuya’s variety. Kazuya is always the hardest opponent in Time Attack/Arcade, and it’s like they give you a free win by following it up with either one of these characters.

Heihachi beats up on the devil too (I’m going to assume his piss-poor moveset is canonical as well), and picks up his son’s catatonic body, looks into his face with pity, wonders what could have been if only he had treated his son like a human being instead of a tool, ponders what sort of father-son memories they could have shared but for his wanton cruelty, heaves a sigh, and tosses Kazuya into an active volcano.

It’s one of the most (in)famous scenes in the series, and one of my all-time favorites. I was a nine-year-old when I first played this, and even back then I knew it was one of the most hilariously over-the-top moments I’d ever see in a video game. It’s right up there with the ending to Portal 2 in terms of laughably implausible (the difference being Portal 2 was in on the joke, whereas I think Namco was legitimately trying to be solemn and badass – and totally whiffed). Seriously, check this shit out:

What have we learned today?

We learned that I was able to somehow type 6,000 words on a twenty-year-old fighting game, which is a little humiliating. More importantly, we learned that the developers of this game were enormously talented, clever, and hardworking. Really, if you go back and play the original Tekken, it’ll feel primitive and kinda clunky; interesting only as an antiquity of the early 90s, like the Game Gear or any Sonic the Hedgehog game. Tekken 2? Not so much. It’s still more than playable today, and honestly it’s better than most modern fighters. It’s such a vast improvement over the original that it’s got to be in the conversation for most impressive sequels of all time. To make things even better, the next game, Tekken 3, is legitimately one of the greatest games ever made – period – and it’s one that’s a hell of a lot of fun to talk about. As much of a passion project as this is, there have been parts that felt like a necessary evil just to get to one of my favorite games in history. I began this whole series just so I can talk about Tekken 3, and now there’s nothing left to distract me fr- 


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