Just a couple days ago I got back from almost a month of being in the Land of the Morning Calm, otherwise known as South Korea. My wife is Korean and I lived there for around 6 years. I hadn’t been to Korea since 2012 and so it was a long time coming to get back there and reconnect with friends and family over there. I traveled around the country, ate amazing food, sang at the noraebang (singing room), and did all sorts of fun stuff. But I did make it a little “side quest” for myself which was to find and play the newest of the new, the most glitteringest version of the Tekken series; Tekken 7: Fated Retribution. I don’t know anybody who really plays Tekken in Korea, so it wasn’t that easy to figure out by myself, but thankfully my wife didn’t mind encouraging my adventure to Tekken town. With her help, we tracked it down.
I just want to say that I’ve loved the Tekken series since Tekken 2 in the arcades. When I was in Korea I played at a level that I could compete with most players. I even won matches in the infamous Green Arcade (I lived about a 15 minute walk from there at one point). No, I didn’t move there to play Tekken. Just a lucky coincidence. After proving myself, I was also invited to join a competitive team in Ansan, and had to decline because I had to work and crap.
Here it is! It was a little small, and the graphics were a little outdated but…
Just kidding, this is a little Tekken Tag arcade box for kids that I couldn’t resist playing at least once. I played terribly due to the kicks being on top and the punches on the bottom, but hey, it was worth it. I mean, it was free, so…
I didn’t actually get to play Tekken 7: FR until we took a little trip to Daejeon, one of the larger cities in Korea. I will say though with a tear in my eye, that it appears that Tekken, and arcades in general, are less popular than they were when I was last in Korea. Things have changed in the last 4-5 years. Overwatch is overtaking Korean PC Rooms. I went to one, noticed tons of people were playing it, logged in with my battle.net account and swiftly got demolished. Sudden Attack 2 is coming out soon too and the mobile industry is how many times in size? as it was when I was last in Korea? It’s big. There are competitive gaming TV channels in Korea, but to my surprise, many of them featured people competing in mobile games. And, I couldn’t even download any of them because I didn’t have a Korean Apple account. I could have gotten around it by logging out of my US apple account, having my wife make a Korean one, logging in and then downloading them, but really they didn’t interest me that much. Most appear to be free-to-play scummy game biz models anyway.
Me finally getting my hands on the elusive game in Daejeon
So, that little blue glowing rectangle just above the joystick is where you swipe your “Bana Passport”. Just for funsies, and knowing that I won’t be playing Tekken 7 again until whenever it releases next year (Q1 2017), I bought one (~$5).
As my wife calls it: “Banana Card”
My most favorite of favorite characters is Armor King, but he isn’t available in this version. Yet, they recently announced Bob and Master Raven to the roster, so I’m guessing there might be more. My second ‘go to’ is Alisa, and thankfully she was available. I really got to play her in the ‘Net Arena Game Center’ in Hongdae (an artsy, now ((heavily!!!)) touristy area of Seoul) and with my card and I actually managed to get up to Mentor status. Woo hoo! Not bad for an oldie like myself. After hanging out with my wife’s older cousin, he took me there. I played for a good hour and it was blissful joyous fun. They also live stream and have a youtube channel if you are interested.
There is a rather odd feature now with the machines, which is the option to play online or to play vs another cabinet in the arcade. But if you do play another cabinet, it is online too. Online multiplayer play is fully and compulsively integrated into the arcades. Rather than sitting down opposite someone and challenging them to a duel, you just sit down and play some faceless person online. I’m of the opinion that old school arcades are great for bringing people together, but this feature seems to push further towards the more isolated play of the home console. I will say that I didn’t experience any lag issues or anything, even if I was in Seoul playing someone in Busan. So at least that wasn’t an issue.
As for the gameplay. It was silky smooth! And I’ve seen that some people are worried that Akuma was over-powered, but I didn’t experience that at all. I played a few Akuma players, won some, lost, some, but I didn’t have any complaints. So far, the game seems really balanced. The two characters that were tougher for me to play against were Bryan and Paul, the rest were fine.
That’s all I really have to report. The trip wasn’t about gaming, but about family really. I’m happy to say that Tekken 7: FR is great and a joy to play for anybody who is worried that it sucks or has been ruined with the new additions and mechanics. Nope, it’s fucking fun as ever!