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Tekken 3D Prime Edition: Really better than SSFIV?

Them's fightin' words...

There's a sweet irony to the idea of two games about conflict resolving a rivalry. Street Fighter man Yoshinori Ono and Tekken sensei Katsuhiro Harada recently joined forces for Other Formats brawler Street Fighter X Tekken, but the latter's 3DS debut is just as likely to benefit from the collaboration.

"He didn't really give us any technical advice on how to develop for the platform," says Harada of his best buddy, whose SFIV landed on 3DS last year, "but he did give us some advice about his impressions of the hardware, so that was a reference that helped out. With that in mind Iguess it is advantageous for us to be releasing after SSFIV."

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Indeed, the second Tekken game on a Ninty console trumps Ono's launch title by running at a smoother-than-a-greased-ferret 60fps, even with the 3D slider all the way up - a fact trumpeted in Prime's brilliantly daft trailer. It has a hefty roster of 40 characters, mostly taken from Tekken 6, though the 3DS game has eight extra stages to boot.

There are 26 Tag Challenge missions, too, and if the cart wasn't already groaning under the weight of all that content, Namco have thrown in a 3D-ised version of CGI film Tekken: Blood Vengeance for nowt. "It's a really complete package," Harada boasts. He would say that, of course, but it's hard not to agree.

Better still, it's likely to be even friendlier to newcomers than Super Street Fighter IV, with fully customisable touch-panel controls for combos and the like."You don't just touch the screen to do a command, but can add different sets that you can customise by, for example, pushing the left button or right button, and then once you're holding it you push one of the panels to select the move that you want to do," Harada (sort-of) explains. It'll make more sense when we playthe finished game, we're sure. Well, we think we're sure.

As far as the looks go, it's as close to Tekken 6 as you could reasonably expect, and it remains the only beat-'em-up series in which you can lay the smack down on a giant panda, for which it deserves our eternal respect. If ever an animal deserved a good slapping it's those surly, sluggish bamboo munchers.

So can Harada triumph in the 3DS battle of the brawlers, or will the chirpy Ono have the last laugh? With a tentative February release date, it shouldn't be long before a victor is declared.

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