Paul Phoenix (Tekken)
Paul Phoenix in Tekken 7
|First game||Tekken (1994)|
|Created by||Seiichi Ishii|
Paul Phoenix (Japanese: ポール・フェニックス Hepburn: Pōru Fenikkusu) is a player character from the Tekken fighting game franchise by Bandai Namco Entertainment. Making his debut in the original Tekken in 1994, he is one of four characters (the others being Yoshimitsu, Heihachi Mishima, and Nina Williams) to appear in every installment of the main series.
Paul is a short-tempered biker and judo practitioner who repeatedly enters the series' King of Iron Fist tournaments in hopes of winning the prize money and to prove he is the world's best fighter, all while developing a rivalry with the anthropomorphized fighting bear Kuma. He has received mixed critical responses for his personality and his signature hi-top fade hairstyle and has been considered a joke character following his later Tekken series appearances.
In video games
Paul Phoenix is a hotheaded American biker and martial artist who regularly enters the King of Iron Fist fighting tournaments to prove he is "the toughest fighter in the universe" while hoping to use the prize money to pay off his debts, yet he falls short of victory each time due to various circumstances. In the first Tekken, Paul is eliminated late in the competition by Kazuya Mishima after an hours-long fight. He battles his way to the final round in Tekken 2, only to end up having to forfeit after getting stuck in traffic and therefore unable to make the match on time. Paul goes undefeated throughout the tournament in Tekken 3, but after defeating Heihachi Mishima and Ogre, he abruptly leaves the competition under the impression that he has won, when he had one last opponent in Ogre's alter ego, True Ogre. As a result, by Tekken 4, Paul's dojo has gone out of business due to lack of students and he ends up a homeless alcoholic. He again enters the tournament in an attempt to get his life back together.
During the first two competitions, Paul had fought and defeated Kuma, a large brown bear trained in combat by Heihachi. After the animal dies of old age, Heihachi trains a replacement, also named Kuma, who beats Paul in the fourth tournament. Paul adopts a new training regimen and gets his revenge against Kuma in Tekken 5, but the match leaves Paul too exhausted to continue in the competition and he is forced to drop out. Again departing the tournament penniless and already burdened by his increasing debt, he wastes no time in entering the sixth tournament in Tekken 6 in hopes of finally easing his financial troubles. This time, he believes assembling a team would increase his chances of victory, and so he joins forces with old friend Marshall Law and boxer Steve Fox.
Paul is selectable in noncanonical spinoff Tekken games such as Tekken Tag Tournament, Tekken Card Challenge, Tekken Advance, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and Tekken Revolution, in addition to the crossover fighting game Street Fighter X Tekken. He is an unlockable character in the 2005 beat-'em-up multiplayer game Urban Reign.
Design and gameplay
Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada revealed that Paul was inspired by Japanese manga, specifically a character from the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure series. Paul is canonically 25 years old at the time of his 1994 Tekken debut. His default costume throughout the series is a red sleeveless judogi and black padded gloves, sporting a scorpion tattoo on his right arm. Paul is given a new look for Tekken 7, with his red gi replaced with casual costumes featuring red, white, and blue themes. A downloadable costume for Paul in Street Fighter X Tekken resembles Street Fighter character Rufus.
Paul's fighting style is officially classified as "judo". GameSpy considered Paul "one of the most devastating characters" in Tekken 6, with "one of the best low attacks" and a "powerful wall game". Neidel Crisan of 1UP.com wrote of Paul in Street Fighter X Tekken that he had "a fairly straight forward character with solid combos that may not be flashy, but do a ton of damage," but Tristan Damen of VentureBeat claimed that "Paul Phoenix, a powerhouse in his native series, is neutered by his inability to fling fireballs."
In other media and merchandise
Paul makes a cameo appearance in Tekken: The Motion Picture as one of the tournament competitors, and is seen carrying an unconscious Michelle Chang out of the exploding Mishima resort near the conclusion, while he has no dialogue. He additionally had main and minor roles in several Tekken comic book series published between 1997 and 2017.
In 1998, Epoch Co. released an action figure of Paul in a black leather outfit as part of their Tekken 3 collection, which was packaged with a display stand and an extra set of interchangeable hands.
Paul has received mixed critical reviews for his gameplay, characterization, and distinctive hairstyle. Matt Swider of Gaming Target ranked him the tenth-best Tekken character in 2006. In his 2012 preview of Street Fighter X Tekken, Nate Ming of Crunchyroll described Paul and Marshall Law as "get-rich-quick schemers". Kevin Wong of Complex ranked Paul third among his twenty best Tekken characters in 2013. Wesley Yin-Poole of Eurogamer wrote that Paul was his preferred character to play in the original PlayStation port of Tekken 3 due to his design and hard-hitting punch, while Gavin Jasper of Den of Geek wrote in 2016 that Paul was deserving of being the central character in an eighth Tekken installment. In an official fan poll held by Namco in 2012, Paul was the third-most requested Tekken character for inclusion in Tekken X Street Fighter, receiving 15.83% (13,975) of 88,280 votes.
Rich Knight of Complex ranked Paul's "ridiculous" Tekken 5 ending second in his 2012 list of the series' fifteen "craziest" moments. 4thletter.net ranked it 127th in their 2013 selection of the top 200 fighting game endings, while comparing him to Street Fighter joke character Dan Hibiki. While Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist actor Joey Ansah called Paul his favorite Tekken character in a 2014 interview, he was critical of Paul's role in later series installments as "a fucking joke."
Print advertising for Tekken 2 featured the slogan: "Paul Phoenix is about to face 23 fighters. Who's the first person he should kill? His barber." In 2010, Michael Grimm of GamesRadar expressed his desire for a matchup between Paul and Street Fighter character Guile for the then-unreleased Street Fighter X Tekken, citing "their awful hair." Tom Goulter of GamesRadar described it as "Street Fighter's Ken [having] stuck his finger in an electrical socket." Alex Langley of Arcade Sushi rated it among the "10 Greatest Video Game Character Hairdos" in 2013. Liana Kerzner of 411Mania.com rated it fourth in her selection of the "Top 8 Video Game Hairstyles" that same year: "Paul takes the title of King of the Stupid Hair, even if he can never quite win a fighting tournament." ShortList included Paul in a feature titled "The Rules of Video Game Hairstyles": "How he manages to maintain such a cliff-like structure is beyond our grooming knowledge. Oceans of hair spray?"
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