This is how all handheld scrapping should be. Where fighting games are usually painful to play with the PSP
D-pad, Tekken is a pleasure. Maybe it's due to its love of simple button sequences instead of repeated D-pad combos, but the familiar chains of commands fit the face buttons perfectly, resulting in long, thumb- friendly gaming sessions.
And it's a good job too - Dark Resurrection grabs you as soon as you switch on your PSP and simply doesn't let you go. In single-player mode, you'll feel such a need to beat the AI game brain that you simply won't stop until you've smashed it. And even when your opponent's lying there, broken in half, you'll be itching to have a go at the next guy.
So why is it so great? Well, this is a near-complete recreation of Tekken 5, but crammed onto a handheld. The compromises are so slight, so invisible, that you'll barely notice them at all. For starters, the graphics are among the best we've seen on PSP. The characters faces are full of expression, with lip-synching to match. Hair flows, leather gleams, baggy clothes move around muscular legs and arms - you can even make out individual fingers. Naturally, the PSP's lack of grunt means Tekken is not perfect. If you look really closely, you might see the occasional over-blurred texture or black specks on chests where polygons don't quite join correctly, but that really is nit-picking. The overall effect is actually more pleasing than the PS2 version, as the smaller screen, sharper images and brighter colours offered by PSP make everything look as colourful as a Guy Fawkes Night sky.
NOT THE FACE
The backgrounds have been simplified slightly, although you'll only notice through direct comparison. We thought we were fighting in front of animated 3D people for hours before we noticed they were cunningly disguised 2D sprites. What's more impressive still is that every major graphical trick from the PS2 version has made it across, from heat haze effects and dust clouds to the Aurora Borealis. There are even a few enhancements, with the boss fight with Jinpachi now looking as if it's taking place in flaming Hell itself.
There are 34 characters available right from the start (although their stories have been recycled from Tekken 5) including newcomers Lili and Dragunov. Lili's useful with her feet and has some devastating attacks mapped to direction plus double kick, while Dragunov is an evenly-rounded Nazi-esque fighter with a penchant for wrestling opponents to the ground and bending their joints the wrong way.
Besides Story mode, the pick of the game types is Tekken Dojo, where you visit a chain of dojos across an island as you try to become the best fighter at each one. Each stop features several competitions against fighters of varying skill and you'll be offered the chance to enter bonus missions too, such as beating a set number of opponents within a time limit. You'll also rise through the ranks, from a humble beginner through nine stages of Kyu and Dan until you're a master of your art. Each ranked result is saved and you're shown your win ratio before every fight. There are also the usual Time Attack, Survival and Arcade modes, plus some unlockable minigames. The bowling game isn't quite as fun as Super Monkey Ball's, but if you hit the top of the power bar, the game yells "Overcharged!" and your character will forget to let go of the ball.
The resulting pratfall and slide down the lane into the pins is hilarious... but you won't get any points for it. Worth a chuckle, though.