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Tekken Tag Tournament

The biggest difference between Tekken 3 and Tekken Tag Tournament in the arcade was the addition of a fifth button called the tag button. It works almost exactly like the tagging-out action in Marvel vs. Capcom in that you select two characters at the outset of the game, and then you can change back and forth between the two at just about any moment by pushing the tag button. You'll quickly realize that there is more to tagging in and out than just character preference, since health meters regenerate a bit after being hit. Here's an example: Paul hits Yoshimitsu, and the person using Yoshimitsu uses the tag button to bring in his second team member. Every second that Yoshimitsu sits on the sideline, a sliver of life returns to his health meter. This recoverable life is represented by a red bar that extends past the character's actual health bar. We're curious to see how this will play out on the PlayStation 2.

In addition to calling for a tag partner, the tag button can be used to deliver a new kind of throw, called a tag throw. When executed, tag throws let you throw your opponent to the edge of the screen where your second character leaps in to add a hit. Some characters, when partnered up with each other, have special tag throws that they execute. One such throw occurs while you are playing as Armor King and King - it looks like a wrestling-styled lariat/clothesline throw. Certain characters, when partnered up, have more than just special tag throws; they have special character intro animations. For example, Nina and Anna have a brief animation where they appear to be arguing, and there's Yoshimitsu and Heihachi, who meditate briefly before the match.

The new real-time intro does a great job of showcasing just how much the characters have improved. You can see every little detail, right down to Xiaoyu's individual eyelashes when the screen zooms up close to her face. Backgrounds have also been redone, and they look fantastic: People move around in the background; there are huge objects all over the place (palm trees, temples, mountains, etc.); and everything looks shockingly good. For a first-generation title, TTT looks spectacular.

The roster of characters in the arcade game breaks down like this: 20 playable characters available at first, 15 of them returning from Tekken 3 (Nina Williams, Anna Williams, Forest Law, Eddy Gordo/Tiger, Paul Phoenix, King, Lei Wulong, Jin Kazama, Brian Fury, Heihachi Mishima, Yoshimitsu, Hwoarang, Ling Xiaoyu, Gun Jack, and Julia Chang) and five characters returning from Tekken 2 (Baek, Jun Kazama, Michelle Chang, Armor King, and Ganryu). There are 14 additional question-marked boxes on the character-select screen - two are random-select boxes, but 12 are locked hidden-character boxes - bringing the total number of characters somewhere up around 32. Each character has several outfits, which you can select: Some of them we've seen before, others have different color schemes, and some are totally new. Some of the most notable outfits are Jin's new blue flame pants, Anna's white leopard skin suit with hat, and Brian Fury's bald head.

Tekken Tag Tournament sounds like a great game to buy and play all day. I am definitely going to write a review on this game when it comes out.