Pokkén Tournament is a two-player online fighting game, which was first released in Japanese arcades in 2015, then later released on the Nintendo Wii U in 2016, and then an updated version Pokkén Tournament DX, was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2017. The game is a combination of the Pokémon franchise and the Tekken series and was developed by the company that created Tekken, Bandai Namco Studios, while being published by The Pokémon Company. The game was first teased during a Pokémon Game Show event in August 2013, and was officially announced a year later.
The game features 21 playable characters between the three versions, with the Wii U version having the smallest roster, having only 16 playable characters, with the Switch version having all 21. The playable character list includes many fan-favourite Pokémon, such as Pikachu, Charizard, Lucario, Gengar, Mewtwo, as well as less popular Pokémon such as Braixen and Croagunk. The game also includes 16 pairs of assist characters, with one being exclusive to the Switch version, which can help you in battle, doing things such as boosting your power, attacking the enemy, or healing you.
During battle, the gameplay switches between two modes, “Field Phase” and “Duel Phase”. In the Field Phase, the Pokémon fighters can move freely around the battle arena, while in the “Duel Phase”, the gameplay becomes more like a side-scroller, similar to Tekken’s gameplay. As you fight, a gauge, called a “Synergy Gauge”, which when full, allows you to activate “Burst mode”, which then allows you to use very powerful “Burst attacks”. For some Pokémon, Burst mode allows them to use Mega Evolution (which was introduced in the generation 6 main series game, Pokémon X and Y), which is a special form change which powers up their attacks, though only certain Pokémon can use this, such as Charizard, Lucario, and Mewtwo, among others. The game’s action-based fighting system based on a basic Rock, Paper, Scissors foundation. Normal attacks beat grab attacks beat counter attacks beat normal attacks.
Pokkén Tournament’s graphics are definitely the most impressive of any Pokémon game, though that isn’t saying that much considering most Pokémon games are on handheld consoles, such as the Nintendo Gameboy or 3DS. The texturing on the models are very detailed and more realistic than in the 3DS games with fur and feathers looking very good. The arenas are also detailed, and have many Pokémon and people in the background, observing the battle.
Pokkén also features a story mode, where you play through various leagues, which increase in difficultly as you advance through each. At the end of the story, you have to battle a secret character, Shadow Mewtwo, who can be unlocked by using an Amiibo Card packaged with Wii U copies of the game.
The game was positively received in the west, receiving a 76 out of 100 average score the review website, Metacritic. By the end of April 2016, Pokkén Tournament had old sold Street Fighter V in the United States. The game was nominated for Best Fighting Game at The Game Awards 2016.
I really enjoy playing this game. It is refreshing playing a real-time fighting Pokémon game, opposed to the usual turn-based gameplay of the main series handheld games. I really like the selection of Pokémon chosen to be playable characters, being a mix of popular, fan-favourites, and Pokémon that aren’t as popular. However, there are a few Pokémon that I wish were in the game, and am surprised some of them weren’t, such as the very popular generation 6 Pokémon, Greninja. Despite that, I overall enjoy playing this game, and believe this to be one of the better Pokémon spinoff games, and definitely think it’s the best looking one graphics wise. I would definitely recommend Pokkén Tournament, whether it’s the Wii U version, the Switch version, or even the arcade version if given the chance, to any Pokémon fan, or even just fighting game fan. I would give this game a 8/10.