Tekken's Mushroom Battle Mode Gives Tekken a 1-Up

Namco's Tekken series is making the leap to the Wii U. The fighting game favorite is one of the first big games slotted for the console. But does it pack enough punch on the Wii U?

To cater to Wii U players, Nintendo and Namco have tailed the Wii U edition with loads of platform specific goodies, such as clothing and Nintendo music.

New to the Tekken series and only on the Wii U is the "Mushroom Battle" mode, in which players can gobble up various mushrooms as power-ups: the Red Mushroom makes you grow one size larger, the Yellow Mushroom makes you grow to "mega size", and the Purple Mushroom shrinks you.

Mushroom Battle opens up new gameplay dynamics. According to Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada, the mode isn't balanced any differently if you don't use the mushrooms; however, if you do use them, it opens up a new style of play.

The Mushroom Battle mode is a new spin on Tekken. When you grow larger, it makes high kicks often meaningless against smaller players. It looks, and perhaps sounds, gimmicky. It's not, as it was surprisingly enjoyable to play, mixing up elements of strategy, technique, and just dumb luck.

In a roundtable discussion, Harada said that the mode wasn't originally inspired by Nintendo. While developing Tekken Tag 2, developers were messing around with a slider, making some characters smaller and other characters huge. They thought it was interesting, but it wasn't until they started working on the Wii U version that the idea hit to use the mechanic with Mario's iconic mushrooms.

Whether or not there's an online version of the Mushroom Battle mode is still TBA. Harada stressed that the game's online would be comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3 regarding lag or the lack thereof.

While demoing Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for the Wii U, Harada used the Wii U GamePad, saying that he found it comfortable. During my hands on, I used both the Wii U GamePad and the Pro Controller, preferring the Wii U GamePad—even though the thing is very, very wide. There are shortcuts for attacks on the Wii U GamePad, and using them in succession unleashes combos. These shortcuts are aimed at players new to Tekken.

During my hands on, the Pro Controller didn't feel very responsive; it felt too light; what's more, the buttons were mushy. The controls didn't feel tight, and that felt more like a hardware issue. Harada, however, said they are in talks to bring a fight stick out for the game, which should please hardcore fighting game fans. Namco's hoping that the Tekken Tag 2 on the Wii U will, too.