Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
My first encounter with the angry polygons of Tekken was on a sticky arcade cabinet in a Catalonian holiday resort. I liked this holiday. There was a massive pool, where a bigger boy once dunked me and held my head under the water. “The fool,” I thought, “Doesn’t he know I’m an Iron Fist champion?”
Okay, I didn’t think that. I probably just thought: “Waaaahhhhh!” But there was solace in the nearby arcade, which I think was just a sweet shop with a ping pong table and a single Tekken 2 machine. My brother and I would clutch the arcade sticks and pop our precious pesetas into the money slot. I don’t remember what fighters we chose, what moves we favoured, or who else came to challenge us. Probably nobody. There was a pool.
Years later, I am playing Tekken 7. There’s a hefty gap in my knowledge of this 3D fighting game, having abandoned it after Tekken Tag Tournament. But the joy of it has returned. The punches are meaty, the dodging is swift and the fighters are ridiculous – protective pandas, posh French dancers, ninja cyborgs. One of them is a demon-possessed grandson of a crimelord, sporting an unfortunate tribal tattoo. This is the result of being brought into the foul world of videogames in the late nineties. Unlike Mario, Jin Kazama has never had his tattoo removed. His likes, according to the Tekken Wiki, include: “flames”.
Today I play as Miguel. An angry ex-bullfighter who can somehow go toe-to-toe with martial arts professionals and demonic businessmen even though he has no formal training. He’s not a boxer, or a wrestler, or a Taekwondo champion. He’s just really, really annoyed. If my life was a movie (straight-to-DVD) you’d now get a scene in which I punch and kick and grab at my online opponent, veins popping in my forehead. Then, a flash. A glimpse of a sad, wet face. A youngster in a pool. Another flash. A kid pushing buttons, furiously. The smell of chlorine. You can smell things in this film. Then back to the present day – “KO!” I have defeated my opponent. I put down my arcade stick and breathe out. The fury of the dunk still burns.
Anyway, Tekken. They’re good games.