The Tekken franchise has been around for years, getting its start way back in the mid-90’s in both arcades and on the Sony PlayStation.  Since that time fans around the world have been enjoying a number of sequels, which have not only featured the traditional combo-oriented fighting that they’ve gotten accustomed to, but also a number of great side modes.  

Tekken Tag Tournamen has always been a stand-out in the series. Not only does it incorporate one of the best mini-games in any fighting game (the hilarious Tekken Bowl), but it also includes a great tag-team tactics comparable with Marvel vs. Capcom 2, allowing you to quickly bring in a partner and do additional damage to your foes.

Now, word is that come this fall, we'll be treated to Tekken Tag Tournament 2.  We received not-so-subtle hints last year when Namco Bandai, the series publisher, threw in a four-fighter demo with its Tekken Hybrid package that was released last November.  Though there was some question as to how deep the fighting would get, the demo looked quite splendid, especially when you were duking it out in full stereoscopic 3D.

The full game will feature a roster of 44 characters, including some old favorites like Jin, Xiaoyu and the masked wrestler King, along with a few new faces for good measure.  Variety is definitely the name of the game here, though we’re left wondering if we’ll see traditional staple characters, like Alex or the wooden Mokujin. 

In addition to the huge roster, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will also introduce a number of new features.  A new Brazil stage will give players ample room to fight in the jungle, alone or with a friend.  You’ll also be able to play around in the newly introduced Fight Lab, and though all the features haven’t been revealed yet, something tells us that you’ll be able to modify your fighting performance – maybe even to the point that you can chain together your own combos.  We’ll find out soon.

One interesting new twist on the traditional modes is being able to have one player take on two in an ultimate tag battle, where the odds are stacked against the solo player as he (or she) has to balance the load against a two-person team.  You'll also be able to take on these modes either locally against friends, or by hopping on to Xbox Live or PlayStation Network and showing chumps what for.

Visually, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 should easily be the best looking game in the series to date. Judging by what we’ve seen in the demo, the backgrounds are truly extraordinary, really popping out – especially in 3D – and make it feel like you’re really fighting someplace, rather than some drab wallpaper that just sits there.  Animations are smooth, and the fighter designs are impeccable, especially once you unlock custom outfits. Hopefully, the final game will see 3D support, just as the Tekken Hybrid demo did.

Namco is promising even more surprises come E3 time, possibly new roster additions and maybe even a few crossover fighters from the recently released Street Fighter x Tekken. 

With a somewhat new approach to the fighting genre and plenty of goodness to go around (we need Tekken Bowl 2 – c’mon, Namco!), Tekken Tag Tournament 2 should be a huge step up in the franchise, and a winner all around when it comes brawling to store shelves this September for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.  Stay tuned for hands-on impressions and a few tips that will turn you into a fighting master in no time flat.