Growing up when I did, gave me some great things, namely some of the best games ever were released when I was young. Above all else, my favorite thing was Pokémon, back then the new series took the world by storm with its anime, card games, movies and more. One year, we got Pokémon Stadium, a brawler type game that allowed me to bring my own team to the Nintendo 64 and duke it out against my friend’s team to see who was best, and at the time, it was unreal.
Pokkén Tournament DX brings the lovechild between The Pokémon Company and Bandai Namco to the Nintendo Switch finally. After launching in September 2016 for the Wii U, a system that was dead before it even got started, Pokkén Tournament gets a second chance on a system that has a spot for a game just like this in its ever-growing library.
Right off the bat, you feel the inspiration Bandai Namco took from their hit fighting series, Tekken, and then smashed it into something fierce. The result is Pokkén Tournament, a game that is both fun and challenging.
To be clear, this is a port of the original with five added characters, four of which are not found in the Wii U edition, as well as new support Pokémon, and new stages. Is this enough to warrant you to repurchase the same game? Depends on who you ask, but there are some other additions that might make you consider it such a new added mode, daily challenges and a reworked versus mode.
Daily challenges help earn currency, which in turn is used to purchase hairstyles, accessories, and titles for your trainer, and this might be fun for younger trainers. This isn’t all you’ll be unlocking, as there are many unlockable title cards and clothing accessories. There’s also Amiibo support and DLC coming, however, no word on what it is at this point.
Graphically, Pokkén Tournament is a step up from the Wii U version, docked, the game runs at 1280×720, up from 960×720 on the Wii U, and to be honest, the game has great texture – playing on my television I couldn’t tell it was 720p, add in a consistent 60 frames per second, and you’re getting a game that shines for what it outputs. Character models for the Pokémon pop, their move effects are animated well, it’s exactly what I expect a trainer battle to be.
Players start out by selecting their partner Pokémon, from there, you choose two support Pokémon that will help turn the tide of battle at the touch of a button. Pokkén Tournament features 32 support characters and offers both offensive and defensive buffs.
From here you are free to do battle – each battle has two distinct phases, Field and Duel, both set in the same a dozen, during the Field phase, players move freely able to land attacks that are mapped to the face buttons. Something I thoroughly enjoyed was the ease of learning combos, which are much less intricate than say Street Fighter or Soul Calibur for example, and this is good to see in a game that caters to casual players. From the Field phase, once you land an attack, the momentum shifts to Duel phase, where players can unleash special moves, temporarily become Mega evolutions of their Pokémon and pretty much annihilate anyone who stands in their way.
There are three modes you can battle Pokémon in ranging from 1v1 to 2v2 to 3v3, which is like the just released Marvel vs Capcom, this allows you to experiment with the best combination of teams, finding who works best with who, and allowing you to earn experience for individual Pokémon.
How you are given experience points is based on how well you perform during an encounter, obviously the better you do, the more you earn, and as you earn, you gain skill points to increase Attack, Defense, Synergy, or Strategy.
With a small roster, a dozen stages or so, and no story campaign, the best way to increase the longevity of Pokkén Tournament is through either completing daily challenges or by jumping into the online multiplayer.
The story campaign is lackluster and little more than groups of battles between other trainers. Set in the Ferrum region, you join the Ferrum League partaking in a series of battles that see you move up in ranks which are categorized by color. Unfortunately, the voice-acting is bad and grating and something I don’t understand made its way into the final product.
Pokkén Tournament DX might not be much more than an upgraded port of a nearly two-year-old game, but it’s a fun game that caters to casual gamers as much as someone who actively plays fighting games. Despite the minor complaints I have about the game, including the small roster or the lack of a true story campaign, the meat of this game is, of course, the multiplayer – an area that will thrive due to its casual approach to the genre. While you’re getting the same game that was available on the Nintendo Wii U, the transition an overall better system is a good reason to give Pokkén Tournament a second chance.