Real Talk By: KJ
I respect the Pokémon fan base, and fully understand its popularity. Personally, i have had a hard time getting into the series. Played and enjoyed Pokémon Red, but that’s far as it went. There were rumblings of an experiment. Namco x Nintendo would join forces, combining this popular series with the Tekken fighting engine. Would this combo work? Have I seen the light? Enter Pokken Tournament.
Getting started, naturally I gravitated to characters from the generation of old. Charizard, Pikachu, and Machamp to name a few. Pick your favorite, name a custom trainer, then take he or she through the game. Playing will earn in-game gold. This can be used to unlock clothing, hair styles, and other cosmetic objects for your avatar.
I enjoyed the roster for the most part. You can tell they were calculated picks, as everyone for the most part can do damage on the field, while bringing unique abilities to the table. I really could have done without the chandelier Pokémon (sorry) considering the roster is so small. 16 characters to be exact with two versions of Pikachu and Mewtwo included. A franchise running this long, and an existing character count of 722 in total, it’s tough to overlook this fact. However, I was impressed with the 19 stage lineup. Make sure to check out the background areas. There are some nice nods for fans.
The tutorial is recommended. Rules of the game and controls are broken down well, making things easy to grasp. An advisor for your trainer will give help throughout the fights. Your default advisor is loud, and can get very annoying. Players can turn her down, or off completely. Doesn’t hurt the score since this is up to the gamer. It’s hit or miss sometimes. The info they give you is needed. Other times, well, not so much.
Ferrum League Championship is Pokken’s answer to arcade mode. Different cups unlock, as the difficulty increases. Face a shuffle of other custom trainers while unlocking new stages, and leveling up your creature. Each cup is topped-off with a quick boss battle over in one round. Thankfully losing against these broken enemies has no effect on your Win/Loss record.
Gameplay dips under 60 frames only when playing in local versus mode. One person has the gamepad, the other uses the TV. The Arcade Version of the game uses two cabinets, so this gives off a familiar vibe. The reason for this has to be for phase shifting, as the camera goes through big changes. The “Field Phase” gives the player full-movement and blast abilities making for some long-range scraps. Keeping things balanced, all characters have a homing attack. This means someone won’t be able to spam projectiles for long, as your fighter quickly lunges at the opponent. The “Dual Phase” takes us to a 2D angle bringing a more traditional fight. Performing specific commands causes the shifts, and they happen often. Training and understanding both adds a layer of depth. This is more than just a button masher, but the game is friendly enough that players of all ages will be able to hold their own.
Assist Pokémon matter. They can Attack, Disrupt, and Enhance their fighter. Support characters can really change the follow of gameplay, if used correctly. I would activate a Pokémon that forced my enemy to let their guard down, leaving them temporarily dazed, setting me up for a super opportunity. Make sure and analyze each one before stepping into battle. I’ve never played a fighting game where support characters matter so much.
The presentation is great. Menu selection-sounds, and screen are Tekkened-out. Background music is a constant party. A Pokémon Rave. This element of Namco’s classic fighting series has seeped its way through. In-fact if you pay close attention the team slipped in some fighting moves from the Tekken series. Cool to see Blaziken bust out some Martial Law stuff. Graphics are great, fans will be happy to see their favorites in full-motion. Super moves are a wonderful showcase of just how good this game can look.
Amiibos will unlock more trainer outfit stuff, maybe even gold. It’s a random giveaway. You can use 5 per day, they don’t have to be Pokémon themed. I put Diddy Kong and Link to work. These unlocks still feel small in the grand scheme of things. As much fun as it is to unlock a grey wig for my character, alternate colors or accessories for the actual fighters would have been a better option.
Pokken Online uses in-game friend codes to play with buddies. No lobbies/spectator options, but there has been hardly any lag. Sucks to go through hurdles to connect with friends tho. Are we on the original Wii?
I have spoken to several Pokémon diehards. They’ve waited for something like this for years. A game that accurately captures the action between these creatures in real-time. Some weren’t even Wii U owners, but considered making the purchase for this game.
When you first pick up the controller, or even just watch it from the outside looking in, it’s a bizarre title. This dissolves after you’ve Understood the phases, aware of when to call-out assist characters, performing combos and supers. It all makes for a fighter that feels fresh, and will be taken seriously among competitive circles. More features would have lifted the score, but again the core gameplay is just so enjoyable. Those who call themselves fighting games fan by any stretch, need to experience Pokken Tournament.
Pokken Tournament Gets
4 Out of 5
+Smooth Fighting For Casual and Hardcore Gamers
-Roster Should Be Bigger
-Lack of Modes (Not SFV Bad, but still)
-Dated Online Component