Pokken Tournament was released last month, so I decided to pick it up. I didn’t have super high expectations for this game with me not being a very big fighting game fan, but boy was Pokken Tournament a neat surprise!
For those of you who don’t know, Pokken Tournament is a Pokemon fighting game, developed by Bandai Namco, that started out as a Japan only arcade game that was later ported to the Wii U on March 18. Pokken Tournament is meant to be a cross between the popular fighting game Tekken and the fun creature battling game Pokemon. But is this game any good? Let’s find out!
Part 1: Gameplay
Pokken Tournament starts with this person named Nia going through some basic things to start the game such as creating your character and typing in your trainer’s name. After that, you’ll be greeted by the main menu. If you don’t understand what each place in the menu is for, don’t fret. Our pal Nia is here to explain to us what we do in each place! She talks about single battle, local battle, training and so on and so on. Then, you realize: Nia does not shut up! There is a way to change how often Nia will give advice in the settings, and I would recommend you turn her to off.
With that minor complaint out of the way, let’s move on to how the game actually plays. Pokken Tournament may seem daunting to new players of the fighting genre, but fear not. Pokken Tournament was surprisingly easy to get the hang of. After doing the first few basic training missions, I felt I was ready enough to start the Ferrum League, the game’s story mode. When starting out, I would more than recommend doing a little training to learn the basics of the game.
The battle system revolves around switching between a field phase and a dual phase. Each battle will start in the field phase. Then, switch to dual phase after landing certain attacks. In field phase, you have 360 degree control over your character while in dual phase you are restricted to move only left and right in a 2.5D space. Switching between the dual and field phases becomes almost mandatory later in the game in order to give your pokemon the advantage. Some pokemon fair better in the field phase while others are better in the dual phase. But what about the fighting itself? Glad you asked.
Each pokemon has three main attacks: normal attacks, a grab attack, and a counter attack. These three attacks are used in a sort of rock paper scissors
type way as in grab attacks beating counter attacks, counter attacks beating normal attacks and normal attacks beating grab attacks. Trying to predict your opponent’s attacks and defending against those attacks with an attack of your own is very fun and addicting. Using the correct attack against your opponent is essential to becoming good at this game. This game, similar to most every other fighting game, has some combo moves as well, further expanding the fighting possibilities. The combos can also get annoying when you’re stuck in a string of attacks with no way to counter or do anything. Just something to be mindful of.
You also have a set of support pokemon that can help you throughout the battle and be switched out between matches. Each support pokemon either gives you a stat boost such as more health or increased attack, gives your opponent a buff such as decreased speed, or simply attacks your opponent, But there’s a catch. You can only use your support pokemon when a special gauge is full.
You can also send your pokemon into burst mode after you have gained enough synergy to fill a meter. You can gain synergy either by finding it on the ground during battle, or by attacking your opponent. When in burst mode, Your pokemon will transform, usually into their mega evolutions, where they have greatly increased stats and can use what is called a burst attack for a limited time. A burst attack is a super strong mega move of death that can easily take a fifth of your opponents health in one blow. Although the burst attacks are super effective, they are also easily blocked. You’re going to want to try and find the best times to use your burst attack in order to ensure the attack won’t be blocked.
All in all, the combat system is fantastic with a few hiccups as in the inability to get out of the middle of a combo. The combat system is similar to smash bros in the sense of it’s easy to pick up and play, but hard to master.
The bulk of the game is found in the Ferrum League. In this mode you must conquer the four stages of the Ferrum League in order to become the champion. Each stage consists of winning 5 matches with 5 different trainers. Your reward for completing these stages are new clothing to customize your character. This mode can get pretty repetitive with you sometimes battling the same pokemon two or three times in a row, but overall it’s a fun time.
While playing in the Ferrum League or single battle, your pokemon will gain exp which will allow you to level up one of four stats: attack, defense, synergy and strategy. Upgrading your attack will boost your attack power. Same with defense. Choosing synergy will boost the duration and effects of burst mode, and choosing strategy will shorten the length of your support gauge and increase the effects of your support pokemon. These upgrades become almost necessary in the later battles. This level up system also helps to make your pokemon different from other people’s.
On the topic of different pokemon, there are a ton of them. The game starts out with fourteen different pokemon to choose from and two that you can unlock. Don’t worry, they have Blaziken. Hands down best pokemon ever.
PART 2: Multiplayer
This game is not super great for local multiplayer. It requires one player to be tethered to the gamepad screen while the other uses a Wii U pro controller or wii remote and nunchuk on the TV. Although it is not ideal, I fully support the decision to do this. This way, each player gets an ideal view of their character. The online multiplayer is great as long as both people have a decent connection to the internet. The online multiplayer also features both friendly and ranked modes for more casual players and hardcore gamers alike.
PART 3: Story
This games story is almost nonexistent. It goes for the whole I wanna be the very best (like no one ever was) so let’s battle. It gets the job done, but it would have been nice to see the developers try something a little more creative.
PART 4: Graphics
This game looks gorgeous especially for the Wii U. With detailed character models and bright and colorful environments to battle in, it can sometimes be hard to not get lost in the scenery. (Please correct me if I’m wrong) This game also runs at a smooth 60 fps during single player, but drops down to a solid 30 fps during local and online. Oh my gosh this game is beautiful.
PART 5: Sound
The music in this game isn’t bad by any means. It just isn’t very memorable. It sounds great for getting you ready for battle, but it’s not something I’d catch myself humming while washing the dishes. Again, It gets the job done but isn’t anything too special.
PART 6: Overall Impressions
Although the game is a little light on story and the local multiplayer isn’t ideal, Pokken Tournament is a great fighting game with an easy yet extensive combat system and a great online multiplayer. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes pokemon and is waiting for a chance to get into the fighting genre. That’s why I give this game a four stars out of five.
This was my first video game review, so I hope it wasn’t too crappy. Please give me a comment down below with any questions, comments or concerns, and don’t forget to like the post and follow my blog. And be sure to stay tuned to Ninterd News for more on Pokken Tournament, and for more reviews, news and Nintendo coverage.