-My first competitive fighting game was Soul Calibur 2. While I played a lot of characters at first, I eventually settled on Astaroth 'cause he was easy and throwing people was fun. During this time I also randomly learned Tekken 4 for reasons I can’t fully recall, and Ric (SLA for those of you who remember) suggested Marduk 'cause he was like Astaroth. Granted, he sucked in T4, but it doesn’t really matter. When T5 came out and I actually cared about Tekken, I stuck with him.
I kinda like grapple characters and throws in general, but have never cared much for King. His throws are awesome, but he doesn’t have the “Pop you in the mouth” factor that Astaroth had. He was always more throws/pokes, not throws/power moves. Sadly, Marduk has never had what SC2 Asta offered, but he’s still the closest in character design. He also has Tackle, and Tackle was pretty dumb in DR.
It’s also probably a subconscious effort to make up for self-confidence issues, although I’m certainly not lacking in chest hair.
-The inconsistency. This is a problem in Soul Calibur as well (less so, but a problem nonetheless). One of the great things about Virtua Fighter is that its system is so structured and refined. In any given situation, you know exactly what options you have and, best of all, you know they’ll work. If something doesn’t work, it’s because you either guessed wrong or didn’t execute. For example, if you sidestep a move at the correct time, your step will always succeed. While different moves require different timing, the speed classes are separated enough to give you a practical level of control.
Namco fighting games are far more chaotic in nature because everything is based on hit boxes. They’ve tried to add more structure in recent years. Soul Calibur has always had the vertical/horizontal distinction, albeit with varying degrees of success. T6 added dedicated tracking moves (the ones with a white streak) that you cannot avoid unless you’re already behind the opponent, and T5DR made long-range throws track. But they’ve never achieved anywhere near the same level of refinement as VF, nor have they ever really tried for what I imagine are practical reasons: too many moves, not enough time. Instead they just throw in new moves, make some balance tweaks, and hope for the best.
Whether or not it works depends on the character. As a (now-ex) Marduk player, I usually wind up on the wrong end of what we like to call “Tekken Justice” due to Craig’s large size and crappy hit boxes. When it comes to evasion, big characters still get screwed in T6 despite Namco’s efforts. And so long as there are no universal rules for sidestepping, they’ll continue to get screwed. As for hit boxes, most of Craig’s moves are slow, linear, and have bad range and/or vertical coverage. Against characters with really good and fast crush moves or evasive stances, this is a major problem.
The end result is a sense of randomness that encourages turtling and conservative play styles. It’s not that Tekken is truly random. There are just too many factors beyond the player’s control. While Tekken’s always been like this to an extent, it’s compounded in T6 by the new combo system. Thanks to bound and walls, more characters can do their big damage combo off of more launchers.
An example is trying to rush down Lili. She has a lot of crush moves, but the two that stand out the most are d+3+4 (her hand-stand super launcher) and db+4 (low sweep). These moves can crush just about everything, including mid pokes and crouching jabs. Yet in the same situations where I’ve been crushed, I’ve managed to throw or poke her out of them. Again, it’s not that it’s random, there are just too many variables for me to control. Some people will call you a scrub for complaining about these moves since they’re slow and horribly punishable on block, but that only applies when you’re turtling. If you’re a character like Marduk, who has NO reliable way to pressure Lili without getting crushed, the winning strategy becomes “don’t ever hit buttons.” Sorry, but that’s a failure on Namco’s part.
-You can thank Tekken 4 for the inclusion of stages with no walls. As you may recall, infinite stages were the norm from Tekken 1 through Tekken Tag, and Tekken 4 was the first in the series to include full 3d environments. It didn’t just add walls; there were pillars, parked cars, even ramps and uneven terrain. Unfortunately, the results were mixed at best. As it turns out, adding complex 3d environments to a game that’s still fundamentally semi-2d is a bad idea. For all its struggles with inconsistency, T6 is nothing compared to the clusterfuck that was Tekken 4.
So in Tekken 5 they simplified things considerably. Walled stages were limited to flat, wide-open arenas, and the deeper aspects of T4’s wall system were eliminated. Infinite stages were brought back to recapture Tekken’s pre-3d roots; one could even argue Tekken works better without walls to an extent, since 90% of moves were never designed with walls in mind (they still aren’t; walls have a bad habit of screwing with hit boxes and push-out).