Tekken Tag Tournament (1999)

by Nish
6 minutes read


Released in 1999, Tekken Tag Tournament broke new ground in the fighting game genre with its tag-team mechanics, allowing players to engage in battles with two characters. Despite the absence of a canonical storyline, its gameplay, graphics, and character diversity received widespread acclaim, making it a classic in the Tekken series and fighting games at large.


Tekken Tag Tournament represents a significant evolution in the Tekken series, introducing tag mechanics to the classic 3D fighting gameplay. Launched in 1999, it expanded the franchise’s horizons by offering a fresh gameplay experience while maintaining the core elements that fans cherished.


“Tekken Tag Tournament”, released in 1999, is the fourth installment in the Tekken fighting game series. Unlike the previous games in the series, Tekken Tag Tournament is a ‘Dream Match’ Iron Fist Tournament and does not have a plot fitting within the Tekken story timeline. It is more of a compilation of the Tekken series, giving fans the opportunity to play as almost every character in the series up to that point.

The game was initially available as an update kit for Tekken 3, running on the same System 12 arcade board. The PlayStation 2 version, released as a launch title outside Japan in 2000, ran on an enhanced game engine with better graphics. This allowed the characters and stages to appear less angular and more detailed compared to how they used to look in the PS1 Tekken trilogy.

The most prominent feature of Tekken Tag Tournament is its tag system. A player selects two characters and may tag out between them to utilize special combos and throws. At any point in the match, the player can hit a tag button to swap out with their other fighter, allowing the resting fighter to recover some lost health. The tag can be implemented in many ways, such as in between combos or utilizing special throws. At times when a resting fighter’s life bar is flashing, that character can be tagged in to be given a temporary boost in strength.

Unlike other tag games such as Capcom’s Vs. series, players are defeated when only one of their fighters lose all of their health, requiring players to be strategic about tagging their fighters. In the event of a timeout, the team with the most accumulative health remaining wins the round.

The game features over 35 characters that previously appeared in Tekken 2 and Tekken 3. In addition, there is a boss character, Unknown, who is similar to Tekken 3’s Mokujin in that she can randomly imitate any character’s fighting style at any time during the fight. The PlayStation 2 version added enhanced graphics and various modes, including 1-on-1 mode, in which players only choose one fighter each, and Team Battle, where players choose up to eight battles and play with the tag rules.

Also featured is the “Tekken Bowl” mode, a bowling mini-game where each character has different attributes. The arcade and console versions of Tekken Tag Tournament differ slightly. The arcade version ran on a 32-bit engine, utilizing the graphics engine of Tekken 3. These graphics ran using the Tekken 3 PCB board, based on the PlayStation hardware. The console version ran on a highly updated engine, utilizing the PlayStation 2’s graphics processor.

Tekken Tag Tournament is a non-canonical Tekken game containing no plot. It brought back the characters that did not return to Tekken 3: Baek Doo San, Bruce Irvin, Jun Kazama, and Kunimitsu. Their ages are unchanged from the previous Tekken games. It is more of a compilation of the Tekken series giving fans the opportunity to play as almost every character in the series up to that point.


The game features an extensive roster, including fan favorites from Tekken 3 and returning characters from previous installments. Key characters include Jin Kazama, Ling Xiaoyu, Paul Phoenix, and Heihachi Mishima, among others, each bringing their unique fighting styles and abilities to the fray.


Tekken Tag Tournament introduces the tag system, allowing players to switch between two characters during battle. This mechanic adds a layer of strategy, as players must manage the health and special abilities of both characters. The game also features various modes, including Tag Battle, Time Attack, and Survival, providing diverse play experiences.


Tekken Tag Tournament stands as a pivotal title in the Tekken series, celebrated for its gameplay innovations and vast character roster. While it diverged from the storyline of its predecessors, it offered a unique and engaging experience that resonated with players around the world.

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