Would we be crazy to say that the oceanic depth of Tekken: Dark Resurrection makes it the single best portable fighting game ever? Well, we're putting it out there just like that. Search as long as you want, complain all you like, but with more than 30 playable characters, a full roster of fighting styles and the best PSP graphics to date, there's barely even room for comparison.
Dark Resurrection is, in actuality, nothing more than a port of an arcade Tekken 5 tweak. Two new fighters join the ranks (read about them here) and some characters receive new moves, but in the end, this plays just like the many entries before it - which is good, because that translates to slamming sound effects, smashable objects in the fighting arena and some of the nuttiest brawlers you'll see in any fighter, ever. Like what, you ask? A robotic, alien samurai. A boxing kangaroo. A panda bear. We could go on and on, but don't worry - there are plenty of straight-laced scrappers at your disposal, including boxer Steve Fox, dance-fighter Eddy Gordo and the returning master of wrestling, Armor King.
If you've been turned away from the button-and-combo-memorization gameplay of earlier Tekkens, there's little here to win your heart back. And it's a true negative that the fighting is more about remembering button sequences than it is intuitively stringing moves together... but when it all looks so damn good, smooth as an arcade's wet dream, grabbing a dude by the face and burying him in the dirt is fun no matter how it happens.
For the legions of Tekken fans, however, this one's bursting with stuff to do. Pick one of the numerous characters and play through their story, fight your way through endless battles to improve your rank or hit up a training dojo to unlock new goodies for your fully customizable fighters.
The dress-up aspect of Dark Resurrection dwarfs anything before it in the series. You can meticulously stylize each of the characters with new clothes or bizarre accessories, such as teddy bears, choker chains and elaborate face paint. It's all part of the offbeat Tekken vibe - it's super serious stuff, but the goofy fighters and Mardi Gras costumes always let you know that even a demonic, laser-spitting monster can have a good time. In fact, unlocking all these new accessories is what kept us banging away for hours, just to see how ludicrously attractive we could make the ladies, and how utterly ridiculous the buffed-out mountain men look with a face full of makeup.
It's disappointing that Dark Resurrection isn't fully online (what is the deal, people?), but at least you can upload your ranking and fighting patterns to the PSP-world and see how you fare against everyone else. This ghost data is kinda like fighting someone else, but seriously, the next Tekken better be online with options spilling out of the TV set. For now, local wireless matches will have to suffice. But with only one relevant complaint, and a staggering list of positives, Dark Resurrection rules the portable fighting ring with an iron fist.