I’ve never been much of a Tekken fan, to be honest. As a kid, I always preferred the colorful sprites and over-the-top action of games like Street Fighter to Tekken‘s more subdued combat. I’ve only played Tekken 7, and while I enjoyed it, I just felt like there was way too much there — mechanically and narratively — for me to really grasp what was going on. That’s all changed since I watched a video by ClementJ64, a massive two-hour undertaking that explains the entire history of the fighting game series.
Ok, I know — a two-hour YouTube video? I get it. I’m not the kind of person who watches these kinds of things pretty much ever. (There’s a reason I’ve tried to keep the Forgotten Worlds series under ten minutes each.) But I’ve been a big fan of Clement ever since I watched his Mega Man and Sonic videos in the early 2010s. One of the first pieces I wrote here, in fact, was about his now-completed quest to play every Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Clement’s gotten out of the Let’s Play game, now producing a podcast as well as longer video retrospectives on particular games. This past week, he released “The Insane Lore of Tekken,” in which he details the entire story of the games, and wow, this series gets pretty silly. Clement is by his own admission not a Tekken expert, but someone who loves the gameplay and world regardless. That’s kind of my approach to fighting games, too — I’ve never had the patience to really get good at any of them, but I’ve always liked the genre for its goofy stories and range of characters.
Clement’s video takes you through the saga of the Mishima family, led by patriarch and World’s Worst Dad Heihachi. Did you know that this guy raised a bear as a pet and taught it karate? You can play as the bear, too — I found minor success in my foray into Tekken 7 by flopping around on the ground as the animal.
I was pretty far off in my assessment of Tekken as more buttoned-down than Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat as a kid. Sure, people aren’t casually throwing fireballs, but this is a series where a man creates a genetically engineered boxing kangaroo in an effort to take over the world. It’s a series where people turn into devils because of their genes. I mean, in Tekken 6 a guy starts World War III in order to maximize human misery and thus awaken an ancient evil so he can punch it to death.
Like I said, I’m not in the business of watching video essays. But Clement’s enthusiasm for the material and effort put into researching it is evident, making it a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Besides, you’ve always wanted to know what’s up with the jaguar man in Tekken, right? Or why there’s a raptor wearing boxing gloves? So go on, check it out. And yes, it even explains why there’s a character fighting in a wedding dress.