The Tekken universe (鉄拳, Iron Fist) refers to the Super Smash Bros. series' collection of characters, stages, and properties hailing from the long-running series of fighting games created and owned by Bandai Namco (formerly Namco). Originating in 1994 for arcades, the series centers around a feud among the members of the Mishima family surrounding the inheritance of Heihachi Mishima, a recurring antagonist in the series. One of Bandai Namco's flagship franchises and its best-selling one, the Tekken series has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide during its lifespan and is considered a pioneer in the fighting game genre, being one of the first to utilize 3D animation and CGI in its gameplay, unheard of for the genre at the time. The series was originally represented in Super Smash Bros. 4 through a downloadable content costume for Mii Brawlers based on Heihachi Mishima, while joining the roster with Kazuya Mishima in Fighter's Pass Vol. 2 of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The earliest version of Tekken can be traced back to an internal test case at Namco in the early 1990s. The purpose of this test was to experiment with the animation of 3D character models, which was a new trend at the time. The team for this test later started playing with texture mapping, which the company had worked on with the 1993 arcade game Ridge Racer. As the project slowly morphed into a fighting game, Seiichi Ishii, former designer for Virtua Fighter was brought on to direct the project. While this new game, called Rave War at the time, would be fundamentally similar to Ishii's previous work, there would be some fundamental differences. Virtua Fighter used small stages with the "ring out" system of a fighter instantly losing if they step out of bounds and a 3 button control scheme: punch, kick, and defense. Tekken experimented with infinite stages that had no boundaries and a 4 button control scheme: left arm, right arm, left leg, and right leg. Other minor differences include more detailed textures and a higher frame rate. The name was eventually changed to Tekken late in development.
The first entry released in arcades in 1994 on the System 11 arcade board. The game featured 8 playable fighters, a non playable sub-boss for each character, and a non playable final boss. The game has 11 stages, which are unique among the series in that they are based on real world locations. This concept was abandoned in favor of original locations in future installments. The game was a critical and financial success in the arcades, enough to warrant a home console release. A port was made on the Sony PlayStation in 1995. Difference from the arcade version include downgraded textures and sound effects, as well as the music being completely remade to work on the different soundboard. All boss characters are now made playable, bringing the total roster to 17 fighters. Character animations like in victory cutscenes or the character select screen were either downgraded or cut entirely. However, a full opening movie and endings for each character were added, as well as a full options menu. There are several other minor differences.
The game was the first PlayStation game to ever surpass one million units sold, and was overall praised as being an impressive port, although some issues like the PAL release being less optimized than the other versions were raised. This inspired Namco to make a sequel, Tekken 2, which released in 1995 in arcades and 1996 on PlayStation. Most of the original roster returned, many with moveset overhauls to differentiate themselves, along with several new characters. All the stages from the previous game are replaced with original locations. New modes include Survival Mode, Team Attack Mode, and Time Attack Mode. All of this and other minor changes like improved gameplay and graphics made Tekken 2 superior to the original in the public's eyes, with even better review and higher sales numbers.
Another sequel, Tekken 3, was released in arcades in 1997, this time on the new System 12 arcade board, and in 1998 on PlayStation. This game is the first entry Katsuhiro Harada got to direct, and he would later become the main director of the franchise going forward. The game featured a roster of mostly new fighters, with only six returning from the previous game—the game marked the first inclusion of a guest character, being Gon from the titular manga series. This game is notable as the first in the series to allow side stepping, a technique that would become a staple in not just the rest of the franchise, but the 3D fighting game sub-genre as a whole. The PlayStation port also included new modes that expanded upon the gameplay: Tekken Force, a stage-based beat-'em-up game, and Tekken Ball, in which players fight by hitting a ball back and forth and damage is determined by whether one of the players can hit the ball back or not. It is the single best-selling entry in the series.
Also in 1998, Tekken: The Motion Picture released. A loose retelling of the first game in an anime OVA format, the film received mixed reviews and is largely forgotten in the sea of anime adaptations of video games at the time.
Two spinoff entries entered the franchise following Tekken 3. The first, Tekken Card Challenge, released in 1999 on Wonderswan. The game is similar to Yu-Gi-Oh, in that players used cards of various effects against opponents that do the same thing, with a game ending when one player runs out of cards or life points—the major difference is the inclusion of elements from the Tekken series, including fighting, blocking, and juggling for extra damage. The second, Tekken Tag Tournament, also released in 1999 in arcades and in 2000 on PlayStation 2 as a launch title for the system. The game was the first to introduce a tag mechanic where a player picks two different fighters and can swap between them during a match. Both fighters have different health bars, but the match ends when only one health bar is depleted.
The next mainline entry, Tekken 4, released on the System 246 arcade board in 2001 and on PlayStation 2 in 2002. The game featured most characters from Tekken 3 returning, as well as several newcomers. After the release of Tekken 3, players started complaining about the infinite stages, which encouraged strategies of getting a few hits in and running away until the time ran out. The team addressed this by not only experimenting with boundaries like walls, but also uneven terrain, ceilings, and obstacles. The walls were praised for offering new strategies like wall splats, but most other changes were received poorly for interrupting the flow of the match. This led to the game being the most controversial entry in the series, with significantly worse reviews and sales.
That same year, the series' first entry on a Nintendo system, Tekken Advance, was released. It was a downgraded, sprite-traced version of Tekken 3 exclusive to Game Boy Advance. The game was praised as an impressive piece of software able to cram the entire arcade game into a single cartridge. While ultimately inferior to the original, it served as a serviceable entry for Tekken on the go.
The next entry, Tekken 5, released on the System 256 arcade board in 2004 and on PlayStation 2 in 2005. The game featured most characters from Tekken 4, as well as several newcomers. The development team addressed the complaints from the previous entry by removing most of what Tekken 4 added in, but kept walls and improved their functionality. The game was praised for these changes, as stages were now integral to matchups, specifically how easy one fighter can take another fighter to a wall. The game pulled Tekken out of the rut the previous game put it in and became the second best-selling game in the series. The arcade version received a free upgrade, called Tekken 5.1, which changed aspects like UI and gameplay balance. The game also got a standalone update for both PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3, titled Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, which added new modes, characters, and further gameplay balances.
That same year, Tekken Pachislot released, which converted the Tekken universe into a pachislot experience. This machine received several sequels, including Tekken Pachislot 2nd in 2013, Tekken Pachislot 3rd in 2014, Tekken CR in 2014, and Tekken Pachislot 4 in 2019.
The next entry, Tekken 6, released on the System 257 arcade board in 2007. Most of the characters from Tekken 5 returned, as well as several new characters. The game expanded on the functionality of walls and added the ability to break them, as well as introduce breakable floors, which served as combo extenders. This was done to preemptively remove most potential infinite combos that walls enabled in previous entries. This neccesitated bigger stages, which led to the innovation of portions of the stage next to or below the initial area sectioned off at the start of the match, only opening when the corresponding wall or floor was broken. While not given as favorable a response or selling as well as the previous entry, the game is still seen as an excellent entry in the series. The game received a major update in 2008, titled Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion, which introduced new characters, stages, items and customization option. This version of the game was ported to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PlayStation Portable in 2009. The game is notable for being the first multi-platform entry on consoles. As of this game, future Tekken console launches use their updated arcade title versions.
The Tekken franchise returned to cinema in 2009 with the release of Tekken. A very loose adaptation of the franchise as a whole, the film was universally panned, even by the Tekken team, and flopped at the box office. However, it did receive a prequel in 2014 titled Tekken 2: Kazuya's Revenge, which was also critically panned.
The franchise next released a slew of spin-off titles. The first was the 2010 Java mobile game Tekken Mobile, later renamed to Tekken Resolute. The game is the first proper 2D Tekken fighting game and is notable among mobile games at the time for offering local wireless multiplayer via Bluetooth. This was followed up by the 2011 PlayStation 3 title Tekken Hybrid, which contains the feature film Tekken: Blood Vengeance, an HD remaster of Tekken Tag Tournament, and a demo called Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Prologue—the demo was for the then-upcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2, which released on the System 369 arcade board in 2011 and on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 later that year. A Wii U version was released after, based on the arcade update Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Unlimited, and included exclusive content such as costumes based on Nintendo characters. Next was Tekken Bowl, a free mobile app released in 2011 based on the side mode introduced in Tekken Tag Tournament. Afterwards came Tekken 3D: Prime Edition, a stripped down port of Tekken 6 for Nintendo 3DS in 2012. While the game was praised for functioning very well for the system it was on, it was criticized for its overall lack of content. Next came Street Fighter X Tekken, a crossover game with the Street Fighter universe. While the Tekken team had little involvement with this entry, 25 of their characters did appear in this game. Another game titled Tekken X Street Fighter was in the early stages at the same time, but was indefinitely shelved after the lukewarm reception and disappointing sales of its sister title, with it still being on hold in 2021 . Next was Tekken Revolution, a modified version of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 released on the PlayStation Store in 2013. The game received mixed reviews, with many agreeing that it was simply a watered down verison of an already existing game and was criticized for the prominent microtransactions creating a "pay-to-win" culture. The game was pulled from the European store in 2016 and support officially ended in 2017. Soon after was Tekken Card Tournament, a digital trading card game similar to Tekken Card Challenge, with turn-based mechanics. Finally, there was Tekken Arena, a mobile MMORPG in 2013, where the player made their own avatar with special stats to defeat bosses and other players.
The next mainline entry, Tekken 7, released on the System ES3 arcade board in 2015 and runs with Unreal Engine 4. Most of the characters who last appeared in Tekken 6 return, as well as several new characters. This game is notable for being the first mainline entry to introduce true guest characters—though Tekken 3 had Gon, Tekken 7 introduced Akuma from Street Fighter as a significant part of the story, and characters from The King of Fighters-related series (namely Fatal Fury shared universe series, and the titular KOF tournament series), Final Fantasy, and even The Walking Dead were later added in as DLC and additional contents for post-console release Arcade updates (the latter guest series is excluded from the arcade updates). The game also introduced several new mechanics, including an additional "Rage" family of systems, which are often comeback mechanics when low on health. The game received an update titled Tekken 7: Fated Retribution in 2016, which introduced new characters, stages and mechanics. This version provided the basis for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows versions in 2017. The game has gone on to be the third best selling Tekken game (behind 3 and 5) in history at over 7 million copies sold.
The Tekken team has also collaborated with The Pokémon Company to develop Pokkén Tournament, which released in arcades in 2015 and on Wii U in 2016. The game is notable for having different stages and characters between both versions, and using the same compatible memory card on both versions can unlock the missing content in both. The game received an enhanced port titled Pokkén Tournament DX on Nintendo Switch in 2017, which combined the content in the arcade and Wii U version and added new content.
Aside from a Tekken skin created for Galaga, the lastest entry was Tekken Mobile which released for mobile devices in 2018. The game used touch screen inputs to use the fighter and has gacha elements known as Waza cards, which did have unique effects. As of February 15, 2019 the game was no longer playable likely because of the negative reception of the game's expensive prices, and lack of revenue on the game's part.
Heihachi Mishima, the main antagonist and mascot of the series, appears as a Mii Costume. Heihachi was considered as a fighter, but was decided against since implementing his movements would be difficult.
Main article: Alternate costume (SSB4)/Mii Fighter
In the base game, one of Pac-Man's sprites in his Namco Roulette taunt is a Heihachi sprite. The series would gain more content through DLC. Sakurai has claimed Kazuya was chosen over Heihachi due to Sakurai wanting to use the Devil Gene to make Kazuya unique. During the development of Kazuya, Sakurai focused on several things. First, making Kazuya's normal moves faithful to the Tekken series and his special movies being based on Devil Kazuya. Second, Kazuya's normal moves had to be placed on 1 button for use. Third, said attacks needed to be able to use the 8 directional inputs while being divided into both combo and high knockback moves to use.
Main article: Alternate costume (SSBU)/Mii Fighter
The Mii costumes based on Heihachi returned as a downloadable content as part of version 8.0.0, within the sixth wave of Mii Fighter outfits and separate from Challenger Pack 6 and Min Min. It was also released prior to Kazuya's addition later in the Fighters Pass.
Main article: List of SSBU Music (Tekken series)
The original version of "Dist Thins Out" from Tekken 6 was used during the Heihachi Mii costume reveal for both SSB4 and Ultimate.
Main article: List of spirits (Tekken series)
Media with elements appearing in the Super Smash Bros. series