I am by no means a fighting-game enthusiast — but I love Tekken. I first got my hands on Tekken 2 as a wee babe for the first PlayStation. My tiny body must've been filled with spite then, too, because pummeling Heihachi Mishima’s smug face was too satisfying. When Tekken 3 launched, I was deep into the Jin Kazama juice bowl. I got my first taste of challenge when True Ogre was thrown at me. I suffered greatly, but I rose from the ashes on the wings of a devil. The highlight of my youth was Tekken Tag Tournament, a relatively cooperative experience that my sister and I had way too much fun in.
What those previous entries had in common above all was my time spent playing with family. From my sister to my dad, I have vivid memories of fighting them in the Skyring stage, and taking turns on impossible fights like the aforementioned accursed cur True Ogre.
With Tekken 8, I was hoping to spark some measure of nostalgia. I even went so far as to read through the previous synopses to prepare for the epic Father vs. Son conclusion. However, I was worried that the learning curve would be too steep for my brain. I had nothing to fear, though, with the developers adding the Special Style — a fighting form developed for less experienced players (me).
To add to the perfect storm was a hyperbolic act of fate. My own somewhat estranged father had visited my home the day Tekken 8 launched, and I got to watch him and my sister play for the first time in decades. Tekken 8’s noob-friendly design made it easy for us to reconnect.
Tekken 8 Special Style
Fighting games can be hella complicated, so much so that you have to memorize a dozen combos for one character and all that information is lost when you switch to another. It becomes so convoluted that fighting games can easily deter new players. However, Tekken 8 introduces Special Style, a form of combat that is seamlessly integrated with the gameplay.
Special Style breaks down the face buttons into combo moves. So tapping away at them can create combos with little effort, similar to an action game. You can even combo those moves by jumping between different face buttons. It feels intuitive and smooth to jump into. It has its own learning curve, but it’s easier than the raw mechanics. The best part is that you can jump in and out of Special Style with the click of a button (L1 / LB). So you can quickly transition between the styles for a more unique approach.
This allowed my sister and father to jump in despite little to no experience with the fighting mechanics. My father, who hadn’t played in decades, actually won a few rounds against my sister. Without Special Style, this would have been a mess of random punches and kicks that didn’t land or look anywhere near as impressive as it did.
Since fighting game mechanics continue to evolve and become more intricate, systems like Special Style feel like the natural evolution for fighting games. Letting inexperienced players like me fully embrace what this game has to offer is not only an excellent way to boost the player base but increase the overall investment.
I played the entirety of Tekken 8’s storyline on Hard mode, and the only way I was able to do that was with the Special Style. Kazuya would have completely wiped the floor with me otherwise. I would have also felt unsatisfied that I had to learn a whole new set of combos for each new character that I was forced to play.
I’m not a competitive gamer. However, I was encouraged to not only beat the story on the hardest difficulty, but also jump into the character episodes and the Arcade Quest. Tekken 8 offers so much for those who want to experience the joys of a fighting game without beating themselves up for not being good at it.
I want more fighting games like this
Plain and simple — more fighting games need to adopt the Special Style mechanic. Street Fighter 6 features a set of different control mechanics, and while I haven’t touched it, I hope it’s as intuitive as the Special Style. I’ve been wanting to jump in for a few hadoukens.
Tekken 8 is one of my favorite modern fighting games to date. I cannot wait to clear all of the single-player content, and I’m especially excited to spend more time unleashing some Jun Kazama righteousness on my family.
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Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.