It came as a surprise to many people when news first broke of a Tekken game appearing on a Nintendo console. This surprise was heightened when it was announced that it would be the GBA that Tekken would be appearing on.
Tekken may be on a small capacity cartridge this time around instead of a CD-ROM but it still has plenty to offer. There are 10 fighters and 7 different game modes. There is Arcade mode in which you pick a fighter and the object is to beat all the other fighters. This mode offers unlimited continues. There is a 2 player versus battle which requires two GBA's and two game paks. Time Attack in which you must complete all the stages against the clock. Survival lets you pit your wits against opponents until your health runs out. After each fight your health replenishes a little but never back to the full amount. Practice mode is there for you to sharpen up your technique. Tag Battle is basically a 3 on 3 fight and you can change your fighter at any point by pressing the 'L' button. There is also a VS Tag Battle which again requires two game paks and two GBAs.
The game options are three different difficulty settings, easy, normal and hard. To be honest unless you never played a beat 'em up game before you may as well go straight to the hard setting as easy and normal offer little challenge. Other options you can change are the round times and the number of rounds you need to win in order to win a fight. I would have liked to have seen a contrast option in the game though. On some arenas it is quite dark and you'll need to be under optimum lighting conditions to see everything properly.
Visually the game looks OK but not as impressive as you might have hoped for, given the detail shown in other GBA titles. The character models look a little too blocky for my liking. The arenas look good but again we know the GBA is capable of better. Don't get me wrong the graphics are fine but you get the feeling that there is room for improvement.
The control system is OK especially when you bear in mind that the GBA does not have as many buttons as the Playstation controller. One thing I do recommend when using a character for the first time is to use the pause menu and take full advantage of the move list that can be found there. The characters special moves can also be found in the manual.
Unbelievably the game contains speech. Vocal output includes things such as 'You Win' and 'You Lose'. All of these messages are shown in text although for some reason when the announcer says fight the text shows ready, not really a cause for concern but still a little odd. Certain fighters make noises which are not subtitled but these are high pitched scream type noises and not actual words. The manual is quite useful and is worth a read before you begin to play so that you can pick up the control system.
Tekken Advance is a fine beat 'em up for the GBA. The 10 fighters that are included offer a good amount of variety as do the game modes that are on offer. If you have a friend who owns the game then you are in for a treat with the multiplayer modes. Even after a short while though you will be opting to switch to the hard difficulty setting as the other two are just too easy and occasionally suffer from the famous Tekken 'one move wins all' syndrome that plagued the Playstation versions. This isn't an issue on the hard setting though.
Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10 Tekken Advance is the GBA game beat 'em up fans have been waiting for. There are some areas that could be improved but once you knock the difficulty setting to hard you'll have a game that will offer a long term challenge.
Deaf Gamers comment: Tekken Advance is fine for deaf gamers. Amazingly there is some verbal output but text messages relay these back to the deaf gamer, except for the instruction to 'fight' appearing as 'ready' in text.