The King of Games ’98: Baldur’s Gate vs. Tekken 3

The King of Games ’98: Baldur’s Gate vs. Tekken 3

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On the latest episode of The King of Games 98, we present you with a match up that is a study in complete polar opposites. One of them was Tekken 3, a very accessible and fun console game that became one of the best selling games on the PlayStation. The other was Baldur’s Gate, a narrative heavy Computer RPG that adapted the Dungeons and Dragons ruleset that was expected to not sell a single copy in the United Kingdom. 

How do these two square off? Let’s go to the tale of the tape: 

Baldur’s Gate

Platform: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
Release Date: December 21, 1998
Publisher: Interplay Entertainment
Developer: Bioware/Black Isle Studios
Designer: James Ohlen
Producer: Ray Muzyka
Composer: Michael Hoenig
Metacritic: 91
Lifetime Sales: 2,200,000 by 2003

Tekken 3

Platform: Arcade, PlayStation 1
Release Date: April 29, 1998
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Director: Masamichi Abe; Youtaka Kounoe
Producer: Hajami Nakatani
Composer: Various
Metacritic: 96
Lifetime Sales: 8,360,000

When the history of BioWare is told, Baldur’s Gate will be seen as the inflection point at which they became a developer to watch in the industry. Even though they had already developed and released Shattered Steel, a mech sim for MS-DOS in the vein of MechWarrior, it was Baldur’s Gate that instilled a DNA into the company. It is a DNA that the company, many years later, is now struggling to recapture. But for many years, BioWare was second to none in crafting narrative driven RPGs, and it all started with Baldur’s Gate.

In the case of Tekken 3, it was the perfect refinement to its predecessors. The first Tekken was a very good competitor to Sega’s Virtua Fighter, though it did not bring much in terms of evolving the genre. Its sequel blew up the roster and infused much more character into its presentation. Nevertheless, both were still products of the arcade, which put the fighting front and center without any distractions. With Tekken 3, Namco not only created the perfect successor by adding even more characters and expanding upon the move set, but also by making the PlayStation conversion one of the most feature packed releases in a fighting game up to that point. The fact that anyone could jump in and feel like a martial artists made for the perfect pick up and play experience.

So how do you compare these two experiences considering their vast differences? Do you value them based on the current enjoyment of the experience? Do you place greater weight on the lasting legacy that each left behind? It was a tough decision for us, and I think the three of us can agree that the ultimate result left us more surprised than we imagined at the outset.

Regardless, these are two great games that deserve your attention, and we hope that this matchup does not result in a taking of sides (as we do), but rather, a greater appreciation of what both games bring to the table. 

Music on this episode:
Dr. Bosconovitch Theme – Various (Tekken 3)
The Friendly Arms Inn – Michael Hoenig (Baldur’s Gate)

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