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Tekken 6 on the PSP may not have all the bells and whistles of its console counterparts, but it still packs a hefty punch. This portable brawler offers the most comprehensive roster in the history of the series, introduces new mechanics for veterans to master while retaining its button-mashing accessibility to newcomers, and is simply a visual treat. This great-looking game is an altogether welcoming fighter, so whether you're a complete stranger to the series, an occasional masher or someone who can pull off 10-hit combos without dislocating a finger, Tekken 6 has plenty to offer you.
Chainsaw hands of doooooom. (Credit: Namco Bandai)
While it strips out the console version's lengthy beat-'em-up campaign and doesn't have the same depth of character customisation, this is an otherwise pitch-perfect conversion. In fact, it feels and plays exactly like the console and arcade iterations of Tekken 6. The game has a robust lineup that features 41 fighters, including old stalwarts such as Kazuya, Lei, Paul, Nina and Jin, as well as recent additions from Dark Resurrection, such as Lili and the emo-Nazi look-a-like Dragunov. Experienced Tekken players will see that the tweaks and changes made to the move sets of returning characters are, for the most part, minor. Most characters get a new attack or two, some stances have been modified, and the damage dealt by some of the more powerful combos in the past have been slightly toned down. Despite this, most of the returning characters feel completely familiar, so you'll never feel like you have to relearn your favorite fighter from scratch.
It's not all veterans, of course, with six new characters making their debut in Tekken 6. These include: Bob, a rotund American fighter who is deceptively speedy for his size; Leo, an androgynous German martial arts specialist; Miguel, a Spanish brawler who relies more on power than speed; Zafina, a member of a mysterious secret order who sports some creepy and unusual stances; Alisa, a seemingly naive young girl who's actually a jetpack-and-chainsaw-wielding android; and Lars, who has some relation to the sprawling Mishima bloodline (hence his move-set similarity to Jin and Kazuya). Of the new recruits, Zafina is the most unique, thanks to her distinctive-looking moves that incorporate stance-based attacks, such as the off-putting tarantula, which sees her get down on all fours to creep low along the ground. Alisa is just sheer fun to play given her frankly bizarre move list, which includes using her own head as an explosive and a whole series of attacks based on her chainsaw appendages.
A fembot with chainsaws for hands may seem overpowered in a fighting game, but Tekken 6 manages the tough task of presenting a well-balanced brawler despite the abundance of characters. Tekken's fight mechanics — each limb assigned to the four face buttons on the PSP, with special moves usually performed via button combos and directional pokes on the D pad or control stick — are eminently suited to the PSP's layout. Thus, novices and experts alike should have no problem in getting their heads (and hands) around the controls. Most of the hundreds of moves in the game are a cinch to perform individually, which means you'll be able to pull off some flashy moves from the get-go. Stringing them together into increasingly damaging combos, however, will take some practice, which is where the game gets deliciously deep. Juggle combos — where you launch your opponent into the air and try to keep him or her there — are still integral to the Tekken experience for expert players. Other important moves include throw counters, wall juggles, roll evasions and various in-depth strategies.