While most fighting games aren’t known for having rich narratives, the Tekken series is enough of an outlier that it isn’t just a rich narrative, but borderline insane. While there doesn’t seem to be plans for an eighth installment just yet, the innovative 3D fighter’s already had plenty happen in its main story. The Tekken story, much like the game itself, does not hold back.
With Kazuya Mishima being revealed as the newest member of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, we decided to take a look back at a Tekken recap to bring everyone up to speed on not just Kazuya’s story, but the tragic thread that binds all the Tekken games together.
Tekken Story: Everything You Should Know
Tekken Main Characters: The Mishima Clan
Kazuya Mishima is the protagonist of Tekken 1, antagonist of Tekken 2, and one of the main characters of nearly every game afterward. Kazuya was thrown off a cliff at the age of five by his father, Heichachi, to see if he was a worthy successor.
Kazuya survived thanks to inheriting the Devil Gene, a special strand of DNA that can bestow demon-like powers. Bearing a horrible scar from the ordeal, he spent years training on his own before showing up during the first Tekken tournament, which was put together by Heihachi and his corporate conglomerate, the Mishima Zaibatsu. His motive: nothing but pure revenge against his infanticidal father.
From Tekken 2 onward, it’s clear that the years of pent-up rage and hatred, fueled by the Devil Gene, has turned Kazuya from antihero to outright villain, even when compared to his ruthless father. He has an identity crisis at one point, but later games show that Kazuya’s Devil side has not only won out, but has become as natural to Kazuya as breathing. It doesn’t prevent him from producing a son, however.
Heihachi Mishima is a main character and/or antagonist of every game in the series and the protagonist of Tekken 2 & 7. He is also patriarch of the Mishima clan, head of the Mishima Zaibatsu, and the creator and organizer of the King of Iron Fist Tournament (what Tekken is known as in-universe), Heihachi is the father of Kazuya Mishima and wanted to see if his son could be a good successor to his company, so he threw him off a cliff. Later games would deepen that motive, implying that Kazuya’s mother passed something dangerous on to her son.
He further tempted fate by hosting the first Tekken tournament. He’s beaten to within an inch of his life, but Heihachi, despite not possessing the Devil Gene, survives through sheer willpower.
He manages to retake his Zaibatsu and hide his ambitions behind a carefully-crafted well-meaning public image in the years afterward, spending most of that time trying to find a way to gain even more power. He’s ruthless, cunning, and will let nothing stand in his way of his goals – not even devils, gods, and his own loved ones.
Jin Kazama is the series protagonist for much of Tekken 3 onward. Jin is also the son of Kazuya and grandson of Heihachi who was also born with the Devil Gene. His mother is Jun Kazama, a caring woman who managed to suppress Kazuya’s Devil side enough to conceive a son. Jin was raised alone by his mother, but she is killed or captured by a mysterious creature named Ogre. This leads Jin to seek out the help of his grandfather, Heihachi – who proceeds to use Jin for his own goals.
This awakens Jin’s own Devil Gene, pitting him in an internal struggle against himself and his own bloodline for the remainder of his appearances. Overwhelmed by hatred for his surviving family and not in control of his demonic power, Jin unlearns his family martial arts and self-teaches his own style and becomes a wanderer and loner. The undisputed tragic hero of the series.
Lars Alexandersson is the protagonist of Tekken 6. Lars is also one of the leaders of a squad in the Tekken Force, the private military of the Mishima Zaibatsu.
During the events of Tekken 6, he loses his memory, regains them, creates a resistance force to the game’s antagonists, and discovers he’s actually Heihachi Mishima’s bastard son, making him a participant in the Mishima family drama. While powerful, he’s good-natured, honest, and caring, looking out for several of the “regular” people characters who wind up as casualties in the Mishima family’s wars.
Tekken 1 – The Prodigal Devil Returns
Heihachi Mishima has announced a worldwide martial arts tournament where the winner will receive an enormous purse of prize money if they can defeat Heihachi himself in the finals. They will also gain the title of King of the Iron Fist. Each of the original eight fighters has a motive beyond the prize money for winning the tournament. Every character has an ending that reveals what would happen should they win, but only one ending is truly canonical – and it belongs to Kazuya Mishima.
Kazuya was thrown off a cliff by his father, Heihachi, which activated Kazuya’s Devil Gene. Fueled by vengeance and demonic power, Kazuya defeats all the other participants and gets his long-desired one-on-one fight with Heihachi. Tapping into the powers of his Devil form, Kazuya defeats Heihachi – and then proceeds to throw him off the very cliff his father dropped him off of all those years ago. The fact that he does so with a smile is the first hint that Kazuya’s soul has been irreparably corrupted by the Devil Gene.
Tekken 2 – You Should Have Found a Steeper Cliff
Following Heihachi’s death, Kazuya becomes head of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Instead of making the Zaibatsu better, he uses his newfound power and influence to commit terrible atrocities, ranging from murder to genetic experimentation.
Two years after the first Iron Fist Tournament, Kazuya shockingly receives a message from Heihachi himself. Not only did he survive the fall from the cliff, but he has been training for two years for the opportunity to reclaim his throne – despite having no Devil Gene. With this, Kazuya announces the second King of Iron Fist Tournament to draw out his father or anyone stupid enough to attempt to stop his reign of terror.
All the fighters from the first tournament return with a few newcomers, one of whom is the pure-hearted Jun Kazama. Kazuya meets Jun and unwittingly falls for her mysterious charm and the two become intimate. With Jun’s influence, the good Kazuya that had been fighting his Devil side is able to manifest as the being Angel. This causes Kazuya to have an identity crisis and internal struggle.
Meanwhile, Heihachi runs through all the other fighters in the tournament and makes it to his fight with his demented son. Weakened from his personality crisis, Kazuya is defeated by Heihachi. Just to be safe, this time, Heihachi takes Kazuya’s body and tosses it into an erupting volcano.
Tekken 3 – A New Generation
Some fifteen years after the second Iron Fist Tournament, Jun Kazama has been raising her son, Jin Kazama, fathered by her affair with Kazuya Mishima. Sensing something evil on the horizon, Jun tells her son should anything happen to her to go straight to his grandfather, the beloved Heihachi Mishima.
Speaking of the head of the Mishima Zaibatsu, Heihachi has been using all these years to foster an excellent PR image while keeping his darker motives hidden. He has also organized his own private military, the Tekken Force, to protect the Zaibatsu and contributed to world peace. However, while on expedition to Mexico, a squadron of the Tekken Force is wiped out by a mysterious being that the only surviving squad member can describe as “Ogre” – a fighting god.
Going to the site himself, Heihachi catches a glimpse of the creature and reawakens his lifelong dream – to rule the world. Not long afterwards, various martial artists all over the world start disappearing, no doubt the work of Ogre.
On or around Jin’s fifteenth birthday, Ogre appears and attacks him and his mother’s home. Against her wishes, Jin tries to fight Ogre and protect his mother, but he’s knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds his home burned to the ground and his mother nowhere to be found. Unbeknownst to Jin, Jun had been fighting off the Devil inherited from his father from taking over her child.
With her disappearance, Jin manifests the Devil’s emblem on his shoulder and begins to fall to darker influences. Vengeance on his mind, Jin finds his grandfather, tells him everything, and begs to be trained by him so he may avenge his mother. Heihachi, eager to use his grandson’s potential for his own devices, gladly accepts.
Four years later, through Heihachi’s rigorous training, Jin has become a powerful fighter and master of his family’s fighting arts. On Jin’s nineteenth birthday, Heihachi announces the King of Iron Fist Tournament 3, with intentions of using his own grandson and the rest of the entrants as bait to attract and capture Ogre. There are very few returning fighters, as they were presumably targeted by Ogre, leaving the door open to an energetic new cast of eager young martial artists.
Jin manages to make his way through the tournament until he reaches Orge’s temple, where he is confronted by Heihachi to test his skills one last time. During this battle, Heihachi notices that Jin is beginning to channel troubling amounts of power, not unlike his father before him. Jin defeats his grandfather, only to find Ogre has transformed into a monstrous form known as True Ogre. Jin defeats Ogre and the “fighting god” dissolves, winning the tournament. Moments later, Jin is gunned down by the Tekken Force, led personally by Hehachi. Since Ogre is gone, Heihachi has no further need for Jin and shoots his own grandson point-blank in the head.
But history repeats itself. Through Heihachi’s own heinous actions, one of his descendant’s Devil Gene activates. Jin revives and tosses the Tekken Force across the room before smashing Heihachi through the temple wall. Heihachi survives, but bears witness to his grandson sprouting black wings and flying off into the night.
Tekken 4 – Ain’t No Grave
Unable to combine cells from the remnants of Ogre with his body without the Devil Gene, Heihachi Mishima decrees a worldwide hunt for his grandson, Jin Kazama, whose whereabouts are unknown following the events of Tekken 3. The investigation didn’t provide much except a 20-year old photograph of a burnt corpse with laceration wounds. On the corpse’s back were deformed wings.
Someone had the body of Kazuya Mishima.
Twenty years ago, Kazuya’s body was discovered by G Corporation, a rival organization to the Mishima Zaibatsu, specializing in biotech and genetics research. Using cutting edge biotechnology, the vengeful fighter was resurrected. To thank them for this, Kazuya allied with G Corporation and agreed to aid in their experiments on himself in order to study the Devil Gene and possibly find a way to control it.
The company somehow kept this secret for twenty years. But Heihachi’s discovery of that photograph has him connect enough dots to one day ambush the G Corporation lab with the Tekken Force. Heihachi confirms the resurrection of Kazuya, but Kazuya wipes the floor with his father’s military thanks to his new control over his powers.
Meanwhile, Jin is unlearning his family’s teachings and learning traditional karate, determined to exorcise everything about his bloodline out of his life. He trains in secret at a dojo in Australia awaiting the day he can kill his grandfather and end his family’s curse.
Two years after the events of Tekken 3, Heihachi announces the King of Iron Fist Tournament 4, with the Mishima Zaibatsu itself as the massive prize. Both Jin and Kazuya know that the tournament is just a trap for Heihachi to draw them out, but they both enter anyway. For them, it is a chance to kill the wicked patriarch.
The finals are to be between Jin and Kazuya, but before Jin can encounter his father, he is captured and taken to a shrine in the Mishima compound called Hon-Maru. Instead of meeting Jin, Kazuya finds Heihachi, who only offers to tell him where his son is if he defeats him. Kazuya loses to Heihachi (making the old man the winner of the tournament) and is also captured and taken to Hon-Maru. It is here where Kazuya lays his eyes on his own son for the first time.
Immediately, Kazuya is suddenly taken over by his Devil, who explains that his power has been split between Kazuya and Jin since the latter was born. After knocking Heihachi away, Devil tries to take its power back from Jin, but before it can, Kazuya regains control, stating that he and his Devil are now one and has unified their powers. Jin frees himself and, consumed by rage, fights and nearly kills Kazuya and a still game Heihachi.
Jin turns into his Devil form and goes to kill them both, but sees a vision of his mother and stops himself. He flies off, busting a hole in the roof of Hon-Maru, leaving behind nothing but two unconscious fathers and a trail of black feathers.
Tekken 5 – Great-Grandpa’s Evil Too
Immediately following the events of Tekken 4, Heihachi and Kazuya awaken only to find Hon-Maru being ambushed by a horde of combat robots. Surprised and recognizing they’ll be quickly overwhelmed unless they work together, the sworn enemies fight side-by-side as father and son. However, Kazuya betrays Heihachi and tosses him to the horde to allow him to escape. The robots pile on top of Heihachi and detonate, causing a massive explosion. A nearby agent makes the ominous report – “Heihachi Mishima…is dead.”
Two months later, someone in control of the Mishima Zaibatsu announces King of Iron Fist Tournament 5.
Jin, whose Devil Gene is going completely berserk, joins the tournament to find out who’s behind it. Similarly, Kazuya joins to figure out the mysterious new sponsor and who sicced the robots on him and his father, considering he watched Heihachi die.
As Jin and Kazuya make their way through the tournament, the mysterious sponsor comes to light in the form of Jinpachi Mishima, Heihachi’s father who has been missing for over forty years.
The actual founder of the Mishima Zaibatsu, Jinpachi’s empire was stolen from him by his son. After a failed coup attempt, Heihachi imprisoned his own father underneath Hon-Maru. He died of starvation, but a mysterious, dark entity possessed and resurrected him. He was released when the explosion of Hon-Maru finally freed him. The evil entity is slowly consuming Jinpachi’s mind and body, so he announced the latest tournament hoping to find someone to put an end to him before evil completely takes him over.
During the tournament, Kazuya learns that it wasn’t the Zaibatsu that sent the robots after him, but G Corporation, the very institution that resurrected him. Completely losing interest in the tournament, Kazuya drops out to deal with this new development, allowing Jin to reach the finals against Jinpachi. Since Jin’s goal is to eliminate everyone in his bloodline to end their curse, both he and Jinpachi get their wishes when Jin defeats and kills his own great-grandfather. Jin gets his second Iron Fist win and inherits the Mishima Zaibatsu with a sinister grin.
Tekken 6 – All Hell Breaks Loose
As the head of the Zaibatsu, Jin Kazama somehow becomes even worse than his father, completely disrupting the world’s peace and initiating a third world war, causing the public to see him as nothing more than an evil tyrant.
Meanwhile, after Kazuya violently handles the people who betrayed him within G Corporation, he takes over the Corporation and gains enough influence for G Corp to match the Zaibatsu. The public throws their support beyond Kazuya, seeing him as the only person who can stop Jin, when in reality, Kazuya just sees Jin’s actions as getting in the way of his own plans for world domination. When Kazuya places a bounty on Jin’s head, Jin counters with the announcement of the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6 to kill everyone in his way.
Jin’s actions are so abhorrent that some members of the Tekken Force question what’s going on. A rebellion is set up, led by a squad leader named Lars Alexandersson. On a raid, Lars discovers an android named Alisa, but is attacked by loyalist Tekken Force members and causes an explosion that gives Lars temporary amnesia. Lars and Alisa escape, the two learning their origins together and coming across several current and previous Iron Fist fighters.
Lars eventually remembers that he is the bastard son of Heihachi Mishima. Lars and Alisa eventually make it to Jin on his throne, only for Jin to reveal that Alisa was programmed to spy on him and turns her against him. Lars is rescued by an operative named Raven who takes him to an abandoned temple in the desert. With Jin on his way and Kazuya already there, Kazuya leaves in disgust when he learns that Lars is his half-brother.
In the temple, however, Lars and Raven bear witness to the resurrection of the ancient demon Azazel. Lars seemingly defeats it, but once leaving the collapsing temple, they’re ambushed by Jin and Alisa once more. After tearfully defeating Alisa, an enraged Lars defeats Jin (technically fulfilling all the requirements to win the tournament), who is finally forced to reveal his true intentions for his atrocities.
Azazel is the progenitor of the Devil Gene, but the only way to awaken it was to fill the world with negativity and the best way was starting an all out world war. Jin seeks to summon and kill Azazel, who can only be killed by someone with the Devil Gene, to rid the world of the horrors of the Devil Gene for good. Azazel reappears in a golden super-mode, leading Jin to tackle the monster into the abyss, both of them assumed dead. There is no official winner of the tournament, as Jin’s disappearance causes the cancellation of the tournament.
However, Raven later reveals that Jin is not dead and still bears the Devil’s brand, meaning that turning Earth into hell and killing Azazel was all for naught.
Tekken 7 – The Beginning and End of the Mishima Curse
With the Mishima Zaibatsu in complete disarray following Jin’s disappearance, Heihachi Mishima makes his reappearance known to the world, having survived the explosion at Hon-Maru in Tekken 5. He reclaims the Zaibatsu and immediately announces the King of Iron Fist Tournament 7. His intentions are to get the world to see that Kazuya, acting CEO of G Corporation, is a literal Devil and have the Mishima Zaibatsu be the monopoly it was before.
Jin is tracked down by a newly revitalized Mishima Zaibatsu, but is rescued by Lars and taken to Violet Corps, an organization led by Heihachi’s adopted son Lee Chaolan, who opposes both Heihachi and Kazuya. Lars and Alisa help Jin escape again when their base is assaulted.
Meanwhile, Heihachi is attacked by a powerful but mysterious fighter by the name of Akuma (yes, the same one from Street Fighter). Asking who he is, Akuma tells him he was sent by someone named Kazumi before her death to kill Heihachi and Kazuya. Kazuya, who is listening in via a nearby robot, wonders why his own mother would put a hit on him.
Akuma and Heihachi fight and tear apart everything around them, but in the end, Akuma stomps Heihachi and seemingly kills him. However, Heihachi later escapes and uses it as an opportunity to declare himself dead to the world. Again. Though this time with the intention of making sure Akuma doesn’t come back for him. This also makes the second Iron Fist Tournament in a row to be cancelled with no winner.
With Heihachi checked off, Akuma goes to face Kazuya, who invites him to the G Corporation roof for their duel. When asked how Akuma knows Kazuya’s mother, Akuma simply says he owed her a debt. As the two fight, Kazuya transforms into his Devil form. Heihachi uses a satellite feed to take pictures of Devil Kazuya and leak them to the world. He then sends a satellite beam where the two fought, but both men survive.
Despite this, Kazuya’s demonic powers have soiled G Corporation to the public. In retaliation, Kazuya unleashes one of his own Devil laser beams to the Zaibatsu satellite, causing it to fall to Earth and create catastrophic damage. The public believes the Zaibatsu lost control of their satellites, which causes them to lose public favor and completely screw up Heihachi’s plan. An enraged Heihachi arranges one final battle with Kazuya, but not before he sits down for an interview with a reporter to finally reveal his past.
Kazumi was a woman Heihachi met in his father’s dojo. They were rivals and later became lovers and she gave birth to Kazuya. One day, she got a fever and became violent. She recovered with Heihachi’s help, but kept getting sick until one day she confronted Heihachi when he was training and told him of the awful things he would do in the future and told him that her family, the Hachijo Clan, wanted her to kill him. In their battle, she assumes a Devil form, confirming that she’s the one who introduced the Devil Gene to the Mishima family. Heihachi is able to defeat and tearfully kill her, saying that this is not the Kazumi he fell in love with.
After being knocked out, the journalist is awakened and is soon alongside Lars, Alisa, and Lee as they watch a satellite feed of their own fixed on a volcano where Kazuya and Heihachi stand for their final battle.
Heihachi and Kazuya beat the tar out of each other. Kazuya transforms into an even stronger version of his Devil form, but is beaten back into his human form by his father. The two fight until they’re exhausted, neither of them able to even block the other’s blows. Kazuya remembers all the atrocities his father has committed, including killing his mother and tossing him off a cliff, and channels all that rage into one last punch that stops Heihachi’s heart, finally killing him.
Confident he couldn’t survive without the Devil Gene and that he has lost all public favor so no one will come looking for him, Kazuya tosses Heihachi’s body into the volcano – just like Heihachi did to him some twenty years ago.
Meanwhile, Jin has finally regained consciousness. Lars tells him that it’s up to him to stop the war he started and kill Kazuya to atone for the hell he brought unto the world. Backed by Lars, Alisa, and Lee, Jin agrees that it’s up to a Devil to save the world.
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