If you've ever wanted to put up your dukes in the guise of a short-skirted schoolgirl and battle a giant boxing glove-wearing kangaroo in the eerie, mysterious ruins of a British castle, before tag-teaming with a massive, tentacled demon, proceeding to maul a panda and then finally reviving the blonde supermodel so she can deliver a punishing death blow via an almost-but-not-quite-bit-too-pervy high kick, well, now you can.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is out this week on PS3 and Xbox 360, and it's totally ludicrous, a lot of fun and - surprisingly - not absolutely impenetrable for beginners.

As ever for the series, TTT2 is utterly resplendent in its range of insane characters, locations, combos and at-times unsettlingly boyish humour.

The graphics are polished, fluid and cartoony, the frame rate holds up, and it takes itself less seriously than a balloon filled with silly string. In total the game has more than 50 playable fighters, and they're almost all creative, unique and funny.

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Above: schoolgirl vs. panda


That said, many of the fighters are still just women wearing not-much-at-all. And as much as that is as much a tradition of the series as battling pandas, for this reviewer it's still a bit weird and off-putting.

For less-experienced players it's not just the aggressively immature sheen of Tekken which presents a barrier to entry. For noobs, the game just isn't quite as much fun as you'd think it would be from watching it.

Even back in the old days of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, fighting games have suffered from learning curves steeper than the angle of the afore-mentioned schoolgirl's high kick, and TTT2 is right up there with the twitchiest of them. It's punishingly fast for the novice, and in arcade mode it won't take long for you to lose all hope and surrender in hopes of a mercifully quick death.

Fortunately, the game has a new Fight Lab mode which attempts to redress some of those problems. It's basically a tutorial with a story-ish, and to be fair, it does take new players through the process of learning combo moves, establishing the intricate nature of timing and tactics in modern fighting games, and breaking you into the madcap Tekken universe.

Even this mode is still difficult, though - and often you'll be stuck on a level and have to work hard to grind out a victory. But if you do stick at it you'll eventually you'll be able to at least hold your own in an average bout, and see more of the deep combat and strategy that better players are able to reveal beneath the game's surface.

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Above: yes, that is a bear and panda fighting. No, we don't know why.


That said, there will always be an extent to which Tekken - and TTT2 in particular - which will remain beyond the reach of outsiders. At this point in the long history of the series there is simply too much to explain - who is that bear? Why is he mauling that disco dancer? - for new players to catch up.

But do you need to catch up to have fun with this game? No - not really.

Fighting games are always the most fun with another player on the couch besides you, and TTT2 is no different. With a player of your standard, this is a really entertaining game.

Just make sure you play with someone at a similar skill level. Otherwise you'll probably never even see the kangaroo before it pounds your schoolgirl into the dust.