The powerful fighter Heihachi Mishima throws his five-year-old son Kazuya off a cliff, saying that the child will survive the fall if he is truly his son. The fatally wounded boy is approached by the Devil, who offers him his life and a chance to become a fearsome fighter in exchange for his soul. Determined to get even with his father, Kazuya agrees. Twenty-one years later Heihachi, now the head of a corrupt corporation, organizes a fighting championship his son is eager to join.
Tekken is a versus fighting game similar in concept to Virtua Fighter. Besides Kazuya, other fighters of the tournament all have their own range of moves, something to prove, and a reason for any combat opponent to fear them. For example, Nina Williams is a trained assassin, Yoshimitsu is a robotic recreation of a ninja, and Marshall Law aims to set up a fighting school to pass on his knowledge.
As one of these eight figures, the player must come through fights in a 360-degree 3D environments with texture mapped backdrops and polygon graphics. After beating the seven rivals there are two bosses to beat. There are three difficulty levels, and fight lengths and number of rounds can be varied.
Each limb's movement is controlled with a different button, making finding the right combos a matter of instinct and planning rather than experimentation. Pure martial arts inspire most of the moves. The slow-motion replay of the final moves allows the player to see where and what went right or wrong.