Space World 2001: Hands-on: Tekken GBA (working title)

We play a three-character demo of Namco's handheld 3D fighter.

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When the Game Boy Advance was first making its presence felt at last year's Space World, no one expected that it would end up as powerful as developers are making it look. Everyone assumed the system would be limited to mostly SNES-quality 2D gaming. But the limits of the Game Boy Advance are still unknown, and games like Tekken for the GBA continue to push the boundaries and change the way people think about portable gaming. It would be relatively easy to simply strip the Tekken series' fighting down to a strict 2D plane and strip out the original game's look and feel. But the GBA version of Tekken pulls off some pretty neat tricks and, while early, looks like it could end up being a pretty sweet portable fighter. Tekken GBA takes the arcade game's four-button standard and compresses it down to only three buttons. Aside from the face buttons, which are used for punching and kicking, the R trigger is used to execute throws. The L trigger is a shortcut button that is the same as pressing punch and kick at the same time. While the stripped-down control scheme definitely alters the way the game is played, many moves and combos from Tekken 3 still seem to work. The 50-percent-complete version shown here at Space World contained three playable characters: Jin Kazama, Paul Phoenix, and Forest Law. All three characters appear in outfits taken from Tekken 3. And all three characters played pretty well and had a nice variety of moves. Overall, the game moves at a decent speed. Character animation, however, seems a little choppy right now, and aside from the 3D movement in the game, Tekken GBA reminded us of Virtua Fighter 2 for the Genesis, which also took a then-lush 3D fighter and scaled it down to less-powerful hardware.

Like Tony Hawk GBA's special tricks, the action in Tekken zooms in on the characters as soon as a throw has landed. The game uses copious amounts of Mode 7-style rotation on the ground, which moves around when you sidestep. The character textures are a little washed out, but overall, the game looks pretty good on the small screen.

No specific release date or final title for Tekken GBA has been announced for either Japan or North America. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information.

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