The Fighter We Always Wanted

Th one thing that I always wanted when I was younger, was a 3D Pokemon game. Pokemon Battle Revolution and Poke Park did the job for the time being, fast forward a few years and Pokken Tournament is announced for the Wii U. Originally a Japanese arcade game, Pokken Tournament is a Pokemon/Tekken hybrid fighter. The roster consists of 16 Pokemon, all from different regions and generations. Pokken is a fresh, deep, inutuitive fighting game, that welcomes newcomers to the genre, while still catering to the hardcore players who love very mechanical fighters.

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Five of the fighters in the game. From left to right: Pikachu, Lucario, Machamp, Gardevoir and Suicune.

Climbing the Ranks

Pokken Tournament doesn’t have a story mode, it’s rather a single player mode with some story elements. You’ll start in the very bottom league with your partner Pokemon of your choice.You can switch out this partner Pokemon to any other fighter whenever you can visit My Town. My Town is where support Pokemon can be changed, your trainer can be customized and your adviser can be changed too. This makes for a really unique, personal touch, and there are a fair few customization options to look into here. As you climb the ranks you’ll encounter a Trainer and her Shadow Mewtwo now and again, who detects large amounts of SP from you and your partner Pokemon. These are the main story elements. It’s fairly minimal in terms of story simply because this is a fighter, and it’s nice that they made the effort to include a single player mode.

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The shard in Mewtwo’s shoulder is a SP crystal.

A New Type of Pokemon Battle

Pokken Tournament’s fighting system revolves around two main mechanics; phases and rock, paper, scissors. Pokken’s fighting system has two phases; field phase and dual phase. Field phase takes place on a 3D plane, and mostly consists of ranged fighting. Certain attacks will cause a phase shift into the dual phase. The dual phase takes place on a 2D plane and mostly consists of high damage, close combat. Dual phase is where most damage is put out, meaning you want to phase shift into dual phase as quickly as possible, to unleash devastating combos onto your opponent. The rock, paper, scissors mechanic is similar to how typing works in mainline Pokemon games. For example, blocking is countered by throwing, but at the same time, blocking counters normal attacks. This makes the combat system fairly strategic, and having to think on the fly about what you want to do next is exhilarating. Over time, SP or Synergy Points will be accumulated. SP can then be used to enter Burst Mode, which means you do more damage and some attacks are changed up. While in Burst Mode, a Burst Attack can be performed, which is the equivalent to a super-move. These all look amazing, and are all unique to each individual Pokemon. There are also sets of support Pokemon, which you pick at the start of each round. These support Pokemon can damage or debuff your opponent and some can even heal your fighter up a little! All the arenas are unique, and they vary in shapes and sizes. Some are ovals, some are circles, which makes for some unique variation when playing multiple matches. There is a fully fledged training mode for beginners and pros alike and tutorials varying in difficulty. The online play was incredibly smooth and I can definitely see people getting longevity out of it. The only problem I had with Pokken, is that it’s sometimes hard to be mindful of each and every mechanic, although i’m sure that comes with time.

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This is a phase shift, from field phase to dual phase.

A Very Technical Fighter

Pokken looks, plays and sounds amazing. The character models for each Pokemon are detailed, right down to the fur, and their attacks can be clearly linked with actual moves from the Pokemon Universe. Each stage looks awesome, even though the backgrounds are more often than not iffy. The game runs at a solid 60 frames per second, and drops down to 30 in local multiplayer. There are multiple forms of control, including the Wii Remote, Gamepad, Procontroller and more! There are even controllers coming out soon, if they haven’t already, which are made for Pokken. The option for Japanese dub is fantastic for those who are interested in it and the English voice acting sounds like it’s pulled straight from the anime. Pokken’s production values are fantastic. The only amiibo support for the game right now, is to tap the Shadow Mewtwo card which comes with the first shipment of the game, unlocking Shadow Mewtwo as a playable fighter, which is really cool. Supposedly, there is more amiibo function in the future.

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This is a shot from Dual Phase

Verdict: 9/10

Pokken Tournament is a fantastic entry into the Wii U’s library of games. It’s a deep, intuitive, unique hybrid between Pokemon and Tekken, that’s simple enough for beginners to enjoy, but deep at the same time for pros to sink their teeth into. Although it can be a bit overwhelming sometimes in terms of mechanics, Pokken is an enjoyable experience for anyone, alone, or with friends.

Positives

-Looks and runs amazing

-Deep combat system

-Phases

-Roster

Negatives

-Mechanics can be a bit overwhelming at times

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