Calling this game Tekken Mobile instead of Tekken Tap Tournament is a missed opportunity, but that’s besides the point. Tapping on a touchscreen and using cards for special moves is weird.
Officially launched in North America last week for iOS and Android, Tekken Mobile is a very mobile fighting game. The technical complexity of the console and arcade entries in the storied series is gone, swapped for the same sort of tap-to-attack gameplay seen in other popular mobile fighters. It feels like a Kabam game, like Marvel’s Contest of Champions or Transformers: Forged to Fight. Players tap on the right side of their screen to attack, the left side to block, and hold the left side to deliver a powerful block-breaking attack to their opponent.
Adding a little bit of complexity and flashiness to battles are Waza cards. Each character unlocked through treasure boxes, in-app purchases or collecting shards has a customizable deck of nine Waza cards. Each card features some sort of special attack or ability. As a fight progresses, these cards activate, allowing players to add a little extra oomph to their attacks. It’s a feature comparable to the slowly recharging powers given to fighters in Power Rangers: Legacy Wars, only without the strategic element of each card costing a certain amount of energy to activate.
Tekken Mobile isn’t a bad little game. There’s a story mode to work through, clan battles against other players’ teams of fighters, and regular daily and special events to participate in. All characters enjoy a sort of RPG-style level progression, complete with a talent point system to beef up their abilities as they grow. Plus it looks pretty great for a mobile title.
It’s just weird seeing Tekken like this. I’m used to a game where any character can be selected without having to worry about unlocking them, paying for them, or collecting enough shards to activate them. I am certainly not used to seeing special character-themed in-game purchase bundles with costs ranging from five dollars to around $50. Imagine spending nearly $50 worth of in-game currency on a special three-star ranking version of Feng.
It’s weird. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been playing the console version so long. Maybe there are mobile-only gamers out there who will play this and go, “Huh, I wonder what the normal version of this is all about?” Wouldn’t that be nice.