Pokken Tournament, Bandai Namco-Nintendo, Wii U, 2016.
It’s finally here.
There’s been a lot of talk about Pokken Tournament ever since it hit the arcades in Japan in summer of 2015. From trailers and available footage, the game looked like what is essentially a supercharged version of Tekken (I always thought the name of the game was a play on Tekken Tag Tournament).
This time the player fights as Pokemons in an arcade style instead of the traditional turn based-approach that’s been a mainstay of the video game series. Nintendo announced a console version would be released on the Wii U in 2016 and at last, it has arrived. Pokemaniacs who have been can now rejoice as they put their hands on a copy for the Wii U.
Let me start by saying how incredibly gorgeous this game looks with it’s stunning graphics. The visuals are magnificent for the Wii U. The environments are and attacks look splendid. The cartoony-style graphics work like a charm on the Wii U once more. The cut scenes and mega attacks look splendid.
The controls are very fluid and easy to master. As is usual per fighting games, there are different combinations you can learn. Each Pokemon has it’s own set of moves that makes it unique. That’s why it’s fun to play with different Pokemons because no two pocket-monsters have the same moveset. For instance Pikachu and Pikachu libre are much more different than you might think. Pokemons like Gengar, Machamp and Chandelure all have their quirks that make them a blast to control for different reasons.
The gamepad works pretty good and has the added benefit of the screen but l feel Pokken Tournament is best experienced with a pro-controller or the game’s arcade-style controller. I’m very partial to my pro-controller for a lot of games, but since Pokken Tournament is an arcade game, the exclusive controller is the simpler and brings the most fun. It’s quite comfortable and comes with a super long cord. Please note that the controller won’t work with other Wii U game (I tried).
Pokken Tournament controller Pro-Pad boxed.
A closer look at the game’s exclusive controller.
In Ferum league you try to earn the championship as you go around fighting in an open-world, trying level-up your squad as you do so. This story mode provides a few hours of solid entertainment.
There are 16 total Pokemons to play with:
Blaziken, Braixen, Chandelure, Charizard, Garchomp, Gardevoir, Gengar, Lucario, Machamp, Mewto, Pikachu, Pikachu Libre, Sceptile, Shadow Mewto, Suicune and Weavile.
The Amiibo card included with the game unlocks Shadow Mewto.
Shadow Mewto in all it’s glory.
Then you have 30 “assist” Pokemon who can be used at any point during combat as aides to help you. Interestingly, the assist Pokemons come in groups of two. They are:
Snivy and Lapras, Emolga and Fennekin, Frogadier and Evee, Jirachi and Whimsicott Mismagius and Ninetales, Farfetch’d and Electrode, Togekiss and Rotom, Dragonite and Victini, Croagunk and Silveon, Parichisu and Magikarp, Cubone and Diglett, Magneton and Quagsire, Espeon, Yveltial and Latios, Rashiram and Cressilia.
I feel Nintendo missed an opportunity to make Pokken Tournament one of it’s best titles in a long time. It’s a great game, make no mistake, but a few additions would have elevated it and cemented it’s status among gamers.
Firstly, multiplayer only supports two players at a time which is disappointing for those of us hoping for a similar experience to Super Smash Bros. A four player all-out Poke-fest war would have been a dream. I understand that it would have been difficult, but l don’t think it would have been impossible. Multiplayer mode also lowers the screen rate from 60 frames-per-second to 30 fps, a significant drop when it comes to visuals.
Note that it also necessitates one player using the Wii U’s gamepad. As it stands, multiplayer is tons of fun and will no doubt offer countless hours of one-on-one fighting. It’s still hard for me to shake off the feeling that four-player multiplayer would have brought this game to a whole new level.
The comparisons to Tekken ring true but Pokken Tournament takes further steps. It takes a great fighting game and concept and expands on it. It has quickly become one of my favourite Wii U and Pokemon game. If you own a Wii U and love Pokemon or fighting games, I highly recommend you give it a try. Other than multiplayer being only two player, the game hits the spot in every possible way. I was pleasantly blown away! 9/10 stars.