Tekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees is disappointing for a few key reasons. First of all, the game sucks and playing it is the digital equivalent of having your ears fed to a particularly smelly lawnmower. But more importantly, the Tekken franchise has an amazingly huge cast of characters, and Nina Williams is about 70th from the top on rankings of exciting characters. She’s the woman! And she’s a spy! That’s it! Tekken has at least two Taekwondo-master street fighters, and neither of them would have to infiltrate a cruise ship to produce an engaging videogame.
So, with this in mind, we are going to look at all the potential Tekken spin-off titles that could have taken the place of Tekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees in 2005. Even as of the release of Tekken 5 (a year before Death by Degrees), Tekken had an extremely deep bench of fighters and potential genres.
Oh, and we’re going to ignore the Mishima family, too. They have had their time to shine, and we don’t need to see that family feud featured in Tekken spin-offs. Just consider anytime you play a game where “Tekken Force” exists to be their natural byproduct.
So with those rules set, maybe we could look at…
Tekken’s Bryan Fury in God of Rage
Who are you: Bryan was introduced in Tekken 3 while the franchise was just growing out of its “rival roster” phase from Tekken 1 & 2. Replacing Bruce Irvin, Bryan was the obvious unrepentant criminal meant to contrast super cop Lei Wulong. But, right from the get go, the developers decided to emphasize that “unrepentant” aspect, and, as early as Tekken 3’s ending, he became an unstoppable vengeance zombie that would destroy everyone and every thing in his path. Pretty sure I saw the dude tear a tank in half… and wouldn’t that be a great concept for a game?
Elevator Pitch: It’s God of War, but with a regular dude. Fists are your main method of beating ‘em up, but you can grab anything from small firearms to tank turrets for additional carnage. If there is a single living thing left in the time zone after completing a level, you do not get A rank.
Other Cameos: We could throw Lei Wulong in there for a recognizable antagonist hero, but maybe make him stick to cutscenes. We can’t kill a big boy like him, and it goes against the spirit of a Bryan Fury game to leave any man standing. Depending on where we want to be in the timeline, either mad scientist Dr. Abel or good-mad scientist Dr. Bosconovitch can work in a support role. Or Bryan can be wrecking a robot army invented by either doctor if the producers want to be cowards. There are options!
Likelihood of success: High. You cannot go wrong with a HD game featuring a white dude on a rampage. And Bryan is as white as it gets!
Tekken’s Julia Chang in Aztec Tomb Raider
Who are you: Julia was introduced in Tekken 3 as the “next generation” replacement for Michelle Chang. Both characters seemed to fill the slot of “one Native American per fighting game”, though they both separated themselves from the rest of the 90’s dudes by being dudettes with exactly zero thunder powers. Weird! The Changs were also unique for having an obvious intellectual inclination over their “spiritual” cousins. This all adds up to two important facts: Julia would be ideal for exploring centuries-old ruins across Mexico, and she would have the brains to solve ancient traps/puzzles contained therein.
Elevator Pitch: It’s Tomb Raider with historically-accurate tombs. Or… ruins? Is anyone actually buried at Chichén Itzá? No matter. Let Julia explore the place. If you want to put an emphasis on pummeling some thieving imperialists, you can also include Julia’s secret luchador identity as a powerup. Take ‘em down, Jaycee!
Other Cameos: Ogre was established as a Native American monster, so sealing and/or (accidentally) releasing him could be the entire point of the exercise. If nothing else, his True Ogre form would make for an interesting boss fight somewhere. Raven could also cameo as a “rival” tomb raider, as he is agile, adept, and willing to put in the work for some extra scratch.
Likelihood of success: Probably medium. Julia isn’t the same draw as a number of other Tekken characters, and “explore ruins, solve puzzles” as a genre just hasn’t been the same since someone went and invented escape rooms. Still, it is extremely videogame-y, so there is the possibility for a hit.
Tekken’s Tiger Jackson in Dancing All Night
Who are you: Tiger Jackson has never had much of a backstory in the Tekken universe proper. He usually shows up for cameos and “dream match” games, and he has existed as little more than a costume for years. That said, we do know one thing about Tiger Jackson: he loves to dance!
Elevator pitch: It’s a rhythm game with the fantastic Tekken soundtrack. The end. It worked for Persona, it will work for Tekken.
Other Cameos: Tiger Jackson’s body buddy, Eddy Gordo, is an obvious first choice for the second player. Similarly, Christie Monteiro has to be the lady of the party. Beyond that? Hell, just go ahead and include everybody. Who doesn’t want to see Wang Jinrei shake a leg to Eternal Paradise?
Likelihood of success: High with a very specific audience. The Tekken franchise isn’t known for its music, but I have never seen a fighting game fan disparage the various Tekken soundtracks. So an opportunity to interact with these banger ditties in a format that isn’t exclusively about punching people in the face? You know there is a huge percentage of the gaming population that would jump on a chance to go all Theatrhythm on this fighting franchise.
Tekken’s Kuma in Bear Rancher
Who are you: Okay, technically Kuma is involved in the Mishima “main story” of Tekken, but he does not have any Mishima blood, as he is a bear. And, more importantly, the “current” Kuma is not the original Kuma, but the son of the previous Kuma. What does this mean? It means Heihachi raised at least one bear from infancy to become an unstoppable fighting force. And if you do not want to play a game where you work on raising the stats of a bear until it can fight humans in a fighting tournament, then I don’t want to talk to you.
Elevator pitch: It’s Monster Rancher, but with the greatest monster of all: a bear. Do odd jobs with Kuma, work your way up through a few kiddy battle leagues, and eventually become the greatest bear/bear trainer that has ever been. Maybe you can even dress up your bear somewhere in there.
Other cameos: Tekken has quite the menagerie of animal fighters, so you have a lot of options for opponents and potential training partners. Panda would make the most obvious rival (complete with her own trainer, Xiaoyu), but Roger or Roger Jr. of the prestigious fighting kangaroo line are also available. If you want to get crazy, go ahead and include Alex the boxing raptor. It feels like a raptor would be too overpowered, but those boxing gloves should keep things under control.
Likelihood of success: 50/50. Videogame history has proven that any animal raising sim is a crap shoot. Which will it be: the next Pokémon, or the next Digimon? Princess Maker, or its army of imitators? It is hard to say how popular Kuma Rancher could be, but it does seem like the kind of release that would reward an audience for bearing with his foibles.
Tekken’s Jack in Jack Wars
Who are you: Jack has been a mainstay of the Tekken franchise from the beginning. And, while there has been some canon finagling to confirm that every Jack since Tekken 2’s Jack-2 has had some variation on the same consciousness, Jack is most popularly known as a plural entity. There have been many, many Jacks built across the Tekken timeline, and he has proven to be an army all on his own on multiple occasions. So why not get something like a TRPG together where literal armies of Jacks fight? Seems like a good way to spend the afternoon.
Elevator pitch: It’s Advance Wars, but instead of tanks and soldiers, it is all Jacks. Or maybe we could include a few other Tekken bots…
Other cameos: The opening stages would inevitably be Jack-on-Jack combat (Jack, P-Jack, and Gun Jack have an evident progression), but how about later levels include other notable robots? Lee/Violet could be hatching a new plan with his Combot, so it seems Jack will have to deal with squares occupied by robots that can emulate anyone else in the franchise. And speaking of fighting mimics, enchanted training dummy Mokujin has a family of wooded buddies, so they would be an excellent rival army, too. And what’s that? There is also the metal Tetsujin, too? Be the true king of iron fists, Jack!
Likelihood of success: Low. Tactical RPGs have gotten popular in recent years, but only in franchises where all the army units can kiss. There is no smooching for Jack, so it is unlikely he will see any success outside of the battlefield. Then again, not like Tekken is completely alien to grid armies…
Tekken’s Jun Kazama in Secret Origins
Who are you: Jun Kazama appeared in Tekken 2, fell in love with the game’s final boss, bore an heir, Jin Kazama, and then disappeared forever. Despite the fact that Ogre supposedly had a prodigious murder count in Tekken 3, every one of his “confirmed kills” has returned to service in the intervening games, and now Jun is the only one still in the grave. Or is she? The Tekken franchise could be trying to pull a fast one here, which could lead to a great…
Elevator Pitch: It’s the Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core of Tekken. Sometimes all a game needs is a decent story, and passable gameplay to keep things going. Jun was established as an excellent fighter and Wildlife Organization Officer, so there are plenty of ways to get her out and active before her featured time in Tekken 2. And then the story can follow a young, single, psychic mother as she performs the final missions that eventually led to her child being an orphan. Just make the game remotely engaging in the meanwhile, and it doesn’t matter if the whole thing has a downer ending.
Other cameos: Aside from including a Kazuya that could be showing a little more of his tender side (have to find some kind of excuse for why these crazy kids got together), Unknown is another obvious pick for Jun’s story. It is clear that creepy, goo-covered creature has always had some kind of connection to Jun, and there is no reason we can’t just bite the bullet and make her the Genesis to Jun’s Zack. Bonus points if Unknown is super talkative before some tragic/inevitable horrible accident.
Likelihood of success: Something like 70%. Like all fans, dedicated Tekken admirers will buy damn near anything if it includes the all-important lore. On the other hand, not including such in a fighting game in a fighting game franchise may be a bit of a miss. Can Tekken 8 just be all about the search for Jun through massive pummeling? It might be a nice direction for the Kazama kids.
Tekken’s Yoshimitsu in Weapon Fighter
Who are you: Yoshimitsu is a warrior ninja that has arrived for every Tekken tournament in one form or another. His armor style may change between episodes, but one thing is always constant about Yoshimitsu: he has got a sword, and he isn’t afraid to use it. And wouldn’t it be nice if he were in a fighting game where it did not seem unsporting to whack an unarmed man with a katana?
Elevator pitch: A weapons-based fighting game starring…. Oh… Oh wait. I just invented Soulcalibur, didn’t I? Crap… uh…. Um…
Other cameos: Apparently even KOS-MOS could appear in this alternate franchise.
Likelihood of success: Proven to be infinity. I guess there is at least one way to make a successful Tekken spinoff…
FGC #637 Tekken’s Nina Williams in Death by Degrees
- System: Playstation 2, and then never seen anywhere ever again. Do not expect this to appear on any Tekken collections or virtual consoles.
- Number of players: A proper fighting game includes two players, and even good beat ‘em ups manage to pull off the same. Death by Degrees cannot be good in any conceivable way, so it is single player.
- Maybe actually talk about the game for a second: This is so bad, you guys. It is hard to believe that the same franchise that has returned such a consistently good series of fighting games is responsible for something like the worst beat ‘em up/action title on the Playstation 2. Everything about this feels so… wrong. The simple act of punching is a chore, and punching is the number one thing you should be doing. Mix in Resident Evil-style “puzzles” that would never stump a kindergartener, and… It’s just so bad!
- Favorite Weapon: I guess it is nice when you get to swing around a katana for no reason. I mean… the reason is you want dudes dead, but this seems like a weird game to include random swords.
- Say something nice: The hacking mini games are at least inoffensive. There isn’t, like, a lose condition where your controller convulses and transforms to kick you square in the nuts. That’s nice.
- Goggle Bob Fact: I am sure it is mentioned on the stream somewhere, but this is the first game I purchased, played up to the tutorial, and then quit because the tutorial was too annoying. In fact, this may be the only game that holds that distinction. So I have not liked this game for a good, long while.
- Watch it, Buddy: Yes, this game was played on the Even Worse stream on two separate occasions.
Stream Date: June 15, 2021
Stream Date: January 11, 2022
No, I will not be streaming it again. Apparently I was less than a third of the way through the game, and there is no way I can deal with that anymore.
- Did you know? Heihachi and Anna Williams are the only “guest” characters in the game beyond Nina, and Heihachi mostly only appears in phone calls. A possible collection of some of the most recognizable fighters in the genre here, and someone decided all we needed were a couple of people with bad hair.
- Would I play again: I already answered that question, and I will not entertain it again.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mega Man Legends 2! Speaking of games from streams, it is time to see the final adventure of Rock Man Dash! Please look forward to it!
Never before have I been so upset with a meat fight