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1996 Redux: An Ode to ‘Tekken 2’

The unassuming grey box known as the PlayStation was little over a year old (in North America and Europe, at least) when Tekken 2 released to rave reviews at the back end of 1996.



Editor’s note: Join us over the next two weeks as we look back at the most outstanding and influential games of 1996.

The unassuming grey box known as the PlayStation was little over a year old (in North America and Europe, at least) when Tekken 2 released to rave reviews at the back end of 1996.

Praised for its brilliant mechanics, diverse roster of characters and sheer originality, it quickly became a standard bearer for Sony’s nascent console, more than holding its own against the likes of Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Soulcalibur.

So, as part of Goomba Stomp’s ‘1996 Redux’ celebration, we decided to take this opportunity to commemorate this absolute classic of the fighting game genre.

Expanding on the 1995 original whilst retaining the unique charm that has come to characterize the franchise in subsequent years, Tekken 2’s most distinguishing feature had to be its robust combat mechanics and liquid smooth gameplay.

With an absence of ranged attacks (apart from Devil/Angel eye laser techniques), the introduction of counter-throws and a set of expansive arenas in which to do battle, Tekken 2’s combat was arguably more strategic than most fighting games of the period. Rarely did contests devolve into a button-bashing slug fest or long-range war of attrition; spamming special moves such as Ryu’s hadouken or Sub-Zero’s freeze blast simply wasn’t an option.

Instead, players had to rely on each fighter’s dazzling array of combos and their own wits to achieve victory. However, despite the sheer number of combinations available, Namco made sure to make the game accessible to amateurs by including plenty of basic sequences of 2 or 3 button presses in every move set. That’s not to say it lacked the kind of complicated, finger-breaking chains only the most dedicated and dextrous individuals could hope to master. No, there was a decent supply of 10-hit combos too.

And this level of balance was exemplified by the characters themselves. With the possible exception of Marshall Law and the aforementioned Devil/Angel, there was very little to split the combatants in terms of difficulty, either to use, or overcome. For example, mechanical behemoth Jack made up for his lack of speed with raw, unadulterated power, while physically smaller fighters such as Jun Kazama and Lei Wulong’s superior agility enabled them to compete with their more massive foes. Yet, despite these wildly different styles, the animations were of such a high quality that, regardless of size, each character was able to transition between combinations with a fluency that’s pleasing to watch even now.

Importantly, there were a number of ways to enjoy these impressive mechanics. Once a player had familiarized themselves with the fundamentals of combat in the game’s innovative practice mode, there were, essentially two exciting options available.

First and foremost, there was Tekken 2’s surprisingly deep arcade mode known as ‘The King of Iron Fist Tournament’. Featuring 10 increasingly tricky, if rarely frustrating, stages and a character-specific sub-boss on level 8, the highlight of each campaign was the gloriously absurd ending cinematic that, though brief (only 30 seconds or so on average), encapsulated the bombastic storytelling and inimitable sense of humor the series is known for.

Enjoyable as arcade mode was, however, it was difficult to look past the one-on-one multiplayer vs mode. After all, nothing beats sitting on the living room sofa with a friend or sibling and knocking seven digital bells out of one another.

Meanwhile, in stark contrast to last year’s Street Fighter V, which suffered from a distinct lack of content upon launch, Namco didn’t skimp on Tekken 2’s character roster either.

From thinly veiled simulacrums of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, to a grizzly bear turned bodyguard, from a boxing Kangaroo/Raptor to a cybernetically enhanced samurai, Tekken 2 features one of the most eclectic collections of fighters in the history of the genre.

And this diversity wasn’t just skin deep. In fact, it was the distinctive personalities Namco worked so hard to cultivate as much as any superficial differences that helped them stand out as an ensemble. Take lion-mask wearing luchador, King. His array of suplexes and other equally recognizable wrestling maneuvers separate him from the pack in terms of fighting style, while his post-arcade-victory cut-scene shows that, under his intimidating exterior, he’s a sentimental, caring man.

Interestingly, over half the roster are initially inaccessible, only becoming available for selection once the player completes arcade mode using a specific character; so, Nina unlocks Anna, King unlocks Armour King, etc. It’s an extremely effective piece of game design that compels the player to keep returning to the arcade mode again and again if they wish to experience everything Tekken 2 has to offer. Indeed, some of my earliest gaming memories revolve around 7-year-old me trying desperately to acquire every single fighter and witness the conclusion of their individual stories with my own eyes.

Visually, at a time when 2D fighting games were still the norm, Tekken 2 was immediately recognizable thanks to its polygonal, three-dimensional character models and detailed pre-rendered backgrounds.

Unlike Mortal Kombat, which was guilty of using simple palette swaps to differentiate between some of its characters rather than creating entirely new assets, Tekken 2’s avatars are noticeably different in look and build. With a pair of unique outfits that, as well as suiting their personas, distinguish them from every other fighter: whereas Mortal Kombat newbies would be forgiven for confusing Sub-Zero and Reptile, it’d be difficult to make the same mistake with King and Armour King.

There was also a conspicuous height and weight difference between bulkier, physically imposing combatants like Jack or Heihachi, and slender, athletic individuals such as Michelle or Lei. It might not have been the only title to provide this sense of scale, but it was one of the most effective at doing so.

Perhaps not as dynamic as contemporary Street Fighter titles, or even as atmospheric as mid-90’s Mortal KombatTekken 2’s various stages were still charming in their own right, thanks in no small part to the advanced light sourcing technology that, at the time of release, drew praise from GameSpot and other globally-recognized publications. ‘Hong Kong Rooftop’, ‘Eternal Darkness’ and ‘Kyoto at Sunset’ each stand out, though all 20+ levels are worthy of comment.

It goes without saying Tekken 2 couldn’t withstand comparison to modern titles from a graphical perspective, but considering it’s now 3 console generations old – if it was a human being, it could legally buy alcohol – it doesn’t look half bad.

The soundtrack, on the other hand, is timeless. Clocking in at 1:45:00, it contains a plethora of dance anthems like ‘The Place 1997’ that are certain to resonate with 20-something players like myself who look back on the ’90s with fondness. However, some of the most memorable tracks fall outside of this late-millennial milieu; the solemn, brooding tones of ‘Be in the Mirror’ and the upbeat timbre of ‘More Healthy’ in particular spring to mind. Excitingly, anyone who owns Tekken 7 can listen to the majority of the soundtrack via the in-game jukebox. Otherwise, there’s always YouTube.

Improving on the original in basically every way, the biggest testament to the brilliance of Tekken 2 is the similarities it bears to the most recent iterations of the franchise.

It may lack the ‘Rage Arts’, fully three-dimensional stages and environmental hazards that are now commonplace in fighting games, but the heart and soul of Tekken has remained the same ever since: the delightfully convoluted and melodramatic stories, exceptional characters and expertly crafted combat mechanics.

Proof positive that the quality of Tekken 2 and its importance to the genre cannot be underestimated.

Counting Final Fantasy VII, The Last of Us, the original Mass Effect trilogy, and The Witcher 3 amongst his favourite games, John enjoys anything that promises to take up an absurdly large amount of his free time. When he’s not gaming, chances are you’ll find him engrossed in a science fiction or fantasy novel; basically, John’s happiest when his attention is as far from the real world as possible.



  1. R.Hoffmann

    July 9, 2017 at 4:32 am

    Using fan art without even crediting the artists?


    • Mike Worby

      July 13, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      Apologies, do you mean the wallpaper? As the man who edited this piece, I’ll take responsibility. I had assumed that it was some sort of final screen for finishing the game, or something promotional. I don’t see a tag on the image or anything that will help me identify the source, or I would gladly credit the artist.

        • Ricky D

          July 14, 2017 at 3:17 am

          We do let our writers have some freedom when styling the posts but we also ask that they credit any fan art. That said, I was going to change the image myself but I also assumed it was some sort of international cover.

        • Mike Worby

          July 14, 2017 at 9:09 am

          Apologies to hyde209, I take full responsibility.

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Fantastic Fest 2019: Second Wave Adds ‘Knives Out’, ‘Parasite’ and More




This year’s Fantastic Fest is shaping up with one of the strongest lineups in recent years and if the first wave announcement didn’t impress you, the second wave of films announced today will have you running to buy tickets.

Wave two brings a ton of exciting new titles including Rian Johnson‘s Knives Out, Bong Joon-ho‘s Palme d’Or winner Parasite, as well as Richard Stanley‘s The Color Out of Space and the latest from filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead, Synchronic.

This year, Fantastic Fest will also be spotlighting Mexican genre films such as The Black Pit of Dr. M and The Ship of Monsters—and, the festival will also include a sidebar dedicated to LGBTQ+ representation in genre cinema.

Check out the full second wave film lineup below. Fantastic Fest runs September 19-26. Be sure to check back as we will be covering the event once again this year.

Abou Leila
Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019
North American Premiere, 139 min
Director – Amin Sidi-Boumédiène
In the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Lotfi ventures into the desert with his lifelong friend S., who hopes to find and kill the elusive, dangerous terrorist Abou Leila.

The Antenna
Turkey, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Orçun Behram
Somewhere within an unnamed city in Turkey, the residents of an apartment block await the installation of their new antenna as ordered by the central government. No one can prepare them for the evil that will be unleashed.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M
Mexico, 1959
Repertory Screening, 82 min
Director – Fernando Méndez
Two doctors make a pact on behalf of science: Whichever one dies first will return to share the secrets of the afterlife. This pact will not end well.

USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 80 min
Director – Joe Begos
While trying to complete her latest painting, a starving artist facing a lack of inspiration spirals out of control in a blaze of blood-soaked, drug-fueled glory.

Blood Machines
France, USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 50 min
Director – Seth Ickerman
The wild sequel to the Carpenter Brut music video, Turbo Killer, shoots you into a turbulent psychedelic adventure of galactic hunters tracking down the soul of a spaceship set to a killer synthwave soundtrack.

Butt Boy
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 100 min
Director – Tyler Cornack
Writer/director/comedian Tyler Cornack’s Butt Boy introduces us to Chip, a middle-aged man whose first prostate exam stirs feelings deep inside leading to an addiction that can only be shown to Fantastic Fest audiences.

Climate Of The Hunter
USA, 2019
World Premiere, 90 min
Director – Mickey Reece
The “Soderbergh of the Sticks,” Mickey Reece, returns to Fantastic Fest with his 27th feature. Two beautiful sisters vie for the affections of a man who may or may not be a vampire.

Color Out Of Space
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 111 min
Director – Richard Stanley
Unimaginable terrors befall the Gardner family after a meteorite lands on their front lawn in Richard Stanley’s entrancing, horrific adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story.

Iron Fists And Kung Fu Kicks
Australia, 2019
North American Premiere, 107 min
Director – Serge Ou
From the Shaw Brothers to The Matrix, this wild documentary tells the story of how kung fu films conquered the world from the 1960s to now.

Knives Out
USA, 2019
Special Presentation, 130 min
Director – Rian Johnson
In attendance – Director Rian Johnson
From acclaimed writer, director Rian Johnson comes Knives Out, a fresh and modern take on the classic “whodunnit” mystery genre.

The Lodge
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 108 min
Directors – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Five years after Goodnight Mommy stunned Fantastic Fest audiences, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are back with another disturbing psychological twister about a brother and sister spending Christmas with their shadowy soon-to-be stepmother.

The Long Walk
Laos, Spain, Singapore, 2019
US Premiere, 115 min
Director – Mattie Do
In attendance – Director Mattie Do
An old Laotian hermit discovers that the ghost of a road accident victim can transport him back in time fifty years to the moment of his mother’s painful death..

2014, USA
Repertory Screening, 65 min
Director – Stewart Thorndike
In attendance – Director Stewart Thorndike
After the loss of her child, a young woman begins to suspect that her neighbors might be part of a satanic cult and that she might be their next target.

A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
USA, 1985
Repertory Screening, 87 min
Director – Jack Sholder
In attendance – Actors Mark Patton and Kim Myers
Jesse (Mark Patton) is the new kid on Elm Street and Freddy Krueger might not be the only monster in the closet in this much discussed but under-appreciated queer horror classic.

Austria, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Karl Markovics
In a retirement allotment in Vienna, a crabby 91-year-old finds both himself and his humanity when he hires an Afghani refugee to help him in Karl Markovics’ remarkable and poignant third feature.

South Korea, 2019
Texas Premiere, 131 min
Director – Bong Joon-ho
Bong Joon-ho’s seventh feature — about an unemployed Korean family conning their way out of their basement apartment — is a roller coaster ride of laughs, gasps, horror, tears, and perfection.

Belgium, 2019
North American Premiere, 97 min
Director – Tim Mielants
Patrick is not having an easy time. First his domineering father passed away and now his favorite hammer is missing. Before the day is out, Patrick’s search will lead him to discover answers to the questions he didn’t even know existed.

Phil Tippett – Mad Dreams And Monsters
France, 2019
International Premiere, 80 min
Directors – Gilles Penso & Alexandre Poncet
After their documentary Creature Designers – The Frankenstein Complex, French journalist Alexandre Poncet and filmmaker Gilles Penso deliver an in-depth, sad, and beautiful documentary about the stop motion and VFX artist Phil Tippett, a man who changed the landscape of visual effects in film.

The Platform
Spain, 2019
US Premiere, 90 min
Director – Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
In attendance – Director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia
Somewhere in the future exists The Platform, a vertically tiered prison where the upper levels have access to exquisite food and the lower levels fight for survival. Level assignments are random, but how long can a prisoner’s luck hold? One man is about to find out.

1977, United Kingdom
Repertory Screening, 78 min
Director – Norman J. Warren
Jessica and Josephine find more than their relationship at stake when they’re chosen by a shape-shifting alien as his target for an observational study.

Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street
USA, 2019
US Premiere, 100 min
Directors – Roman Chimienti & Tyler Jensen
In attendance – Directors Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen
More than thirty years after its release and his departure from Hollywood, Mark Patton (star of A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge), sets the record straight on the famously queer horror sequel in this fabulous, surprising, and eye-opening documentary.

The Ship Of Monsters
Mexico, 1960
Repertory Screening, 81 min
Director – Rogelio A. González
Two Venusian women and their robot servant are on a mission to find suitable candidates to repopulate their planet. Soon their ship is filled with bizarre specimens from across the universe, leading to an adventure like no other!

USA, 2019
US Premiere, 96 min
Directors – Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
In attendance – Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
Two paramedics find their world ripped apart when they start encountering deaths linked to the otherworldly effects of a new designer drug called Synchronic.

Trampa Infernal
Mexico, 1989
Repertory Screening, 77 min
Director – Pedro Galindo III
In Mexico’s most notorious unseen video-era masterblast, a crew of toxically masculine bear murderers runs afoul of a forest-dwelling war veteran wearing a mannequin mask and Freddy Krueger glove. Entertainment ensues!!

The True Adventures Of Wolfboy
USA, 2019
North American Premiere, 88 min
Director – Martin Krej?í
Suffering from hypertrichosis — which covers him with animal-like fur — Paul knows he’s not like other kids. But a seemingly random package from his estranged mother will send him on a journey of self-discovery alongside extraordinary characters.

The Vast Of Night
USA, 2019
Texas Premiere, 90 min
Director – Andrew Patterson
A rural 1950s radio DJ and a telephone operator uncover a strange signal that could change everything in this stunning science fiction debut feature.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 92 min
Director – Joe Begos
In attendance – Director Joe Begos
In the near future, a new drug called Hype has turned America into a war zone. The addicted are more mutant than human, and they’ve set their sights on assaulting a VFW post in Joe Begos’ star-studded latest.

USA, 2019
World Premiere, 71 min
Director – Jack Henry Robbins
In attendance – Director Jack Henry Robbins
This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, takes us back to when 12-year-old Ralph, over one formative week, mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.

Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, 2019
US Premiere, 98 min
Director – Lorcan Finnegan
When young couple Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) drive out to a maze of temptingly affordable houses in the suburbs, they find themselves unable to leave.

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Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’ Gets a Mysterious Trailer




Fox Searchlight has released the first trailer and poster for Antlers, a rural horror film about a small-town Oregon teacher (Keri Russell) and her brother (Jesse Plemons), the local sheriff, who discover that a young student (Jeremy T. Thomas) is harboring a dangerous secret that places the entire town in danger.

Director Scott Cooper and producer Guillermo del Toro have teamed to adapt a short story from Nick Antosca, the creator of the criminally underrated horror anthology series Channel Zero. Not much is yet known about Antlers other than Fox Searchlight, now owned by Disney, has scheduled the film for a 2020 release. Rounding up the main cast is Graham Green, Amy Madigan, Scott Haze and Rory Cochrane. Watch the trailer below.

Antlers Movie
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Be Excellent to Each Other with these Awesome ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ Figures

“History is about to be rewritten by two guys who can’t spell.”




Since its release in 1989, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure inspired a sequel (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey), a Saturday morning cartoon, a comic book series, and launched actor Keanu Reeves into movie stardom. And now, three-plus decades later, Bill and Ted are getting their own scale collectible set courtesy Sideshow and Blitzway.

This is your chance to own the friendly duo in one go! The work put into creating these high-end figures is truly astounding as the figures capture the look of a young Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves just as we remember them. If you have $399 to spend, they can be all yours.

Check out the photos below along with the official press release.

Bill and Ted are two high school buddies who dream of becoming international rock stars. Their hilarious time travel adventure is depicted in the amazingly audacious comedy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

It’s like having them pop up right in front of you, with their iconic fashion and elaborate accessories. Besides, the iconic props are designed to let you reproduce a variety of wonderful scenes from the movie.

Be excellent to each other and travel to the past through the exciting story of Bill and Ted!

The Bill & Ted Sixth Scale Collectible Set specially features:

Highly detailed likeness of Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston Esq.
Highly detailed likeness of Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan
Newly designed and developed male body with over 30 points of articulations and flexible soft arms
Two (2) Newly designed and developed figure stands
Twelve (12) interchangeable hands (total for both) including:
Two (2) pairs of guitar hands
Two (2) right blow fist hands
Two (2) pairs of open hands
Two (2) right good fortune hands

Costume for Bill:

One (1) purple pattern shirt
One (1) graphic t-shirts
One (1) pair of blue jeans
One (1) pair of pattern underpants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

Costume for Ted:

One (1) blue jacket
One (1) black vest
One (1) graphic t-shirt
One (1) pair of graphic shorts
One (1) pair of inner training pants
One (1) pair of striped socks
One (1) pair of canvas shoes

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Watch the Creepy Trailer for ‘Little Nightmares 2’: Six is Back and She has Help.




One of the biggest surprises to come out of Gamescom 2019 so far is the announcement of Little Nightmares 2, the sequel to the puzzle-platformer hit horror game developed by Tarsier Studios.

While the first Little Nightmares has you take control a character named Six while avoiding instant death as she traverses alone amongst the depths of a dungeon, the sequel will give her a companion named Mono, who must accompany Six throughout her terrifying new journey.  

Little Nightmares was one of our favorite games of 2017 and so we can’t wait to get our hands on the sequel. In our review, James Baker wrote, “Tarsier Studios have created a wholly original concept to a horror genre that has leaned more towards thriller before anything else, bringing its roots back without relying on jump-scares and needlessly-gory shocks. Just like hide-and-seek, Little Nightmares captures the fear of being caught, albeit in a creepy, macabre style.”

Little Nightmares 2 will be released sometime in 2020 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

Watch the trailer below and if you are a fan of the first game, we recommend reading this article that dives deep into the meaning behind Little Nightmares.

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NBA 2K20’s Story Mode Gets a Stunning Trailer




NBA 2K19 features to date, its strongest MyCareer mode with the aptly titled, “The Way Back”, a fascinating look at the culture behind college basketball recruiting. The story mode was well received by critics and fans everywhere and in our review, we called it, “an incredible achievement that conveys the fabric of modern American life, aspirations and incidentally, sports, in close-up and at length”.

NBA 2K20 which will be released in less than a month, promises to include an even better story mode, and while we haven’t played the game yet, we have plenty of reasons to think it might be. Not only does it feature an all-star cast with top-tier talents such as Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson, but the story mode – entitled “When the Lights Are Brightest” – is being produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Productions, the same company behind the upcoming Space Jam 2.

NBA 2K20’s latest trailer, which debuted Monday during Microsoft’s Inside Xbox show live from Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, give us a good idea of what to expect. We get a glimpse at Idris Elba and Rosario Dawson in action as well as the rest of the supporting cast which includes Thomas Middleditch, Mark Cuban, Ernie Hudson, Lamorne Morris, Scottie Pippen, and Jaleel White!

The NBA 2K20 demo will go live on Wednesday, Aug. 21 and will allow players to create a character and get a head start on MyCareer. Any progress made will carry over to the full game, which will be released Sept. 6 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

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