WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Pokken Tournament
I first heard about Pokken Tournament a few years ago when it was announced that it would be making its debut in Japanese arcades. I immediately lost my mind that it wasn’t announced for consoles. But here we are in 2016, and I have been able to boot up the Pokemon fighting game on my Wii U and have thoroughly enjoyed my time with it.
The concept is simple: it’s Tekken with Pokemon. Well, kind of.
The fighting style is original, it rotates between a 3D battle arena to a 2D camera angle, and the moves of the characters (or at least the way they work) vary based on where you are on the battlefield. It’s a lot to handle at first. It took me about 10 battles to get comfortable with the fighting style, and even though I have gotten more comfortable with it, there are still several things I haven’t quite been able to grasp yet.
When it comes to the character roster, my initial impression was that it’s a little small. There are 16 characters in total if you include unlocks, Amiibo Cards, and the two sets of clone characters (Pikachu/Pikachu Libre and Mewtwo/Shadow Mewtwo) that share similar play styles and moves. For someone who plays a lot of Super Smash Bros. Wii U, the roster size was shockingly small, but I found there is so much variety and versatility in the characters, it really makes up for the smaller roster size.
Charizard is armed with strong fire moves, Machamp is a tank that owns the opposition from close up, Gengar relies on technique and has the ability to throw off opponents with his movements, and the list goes on. The Pokemon themselves play like a dream.
The support Pokemon teams don’t have a large impact, but it’s fun to be able to bring more Pocket Monsters into the battle with you, as the combinations are just fun (see: Umbreon and Espeon combo).
The graphics of the game are beautiful. The stages are fun to play on, and even entertaining to just sit and watch. There is so much going on in the background that it really makes you feel like you’re right in the middle of the pokemon universe.
This is what I have always wanted from a console Pokemon game. When I was younger and played Pokemon Stadium, I wanted the ability to take control of my favorite Pokemon and control them directly… and this is exactly what Pokken Tournament allows. The majority of the character moves are easily identifiable by moves from the other Pokemon games, and it’s really fun to finally see how they would effect the opposition in a different realm than a turn-based battle.
To be honest, I expect a lot of DLC for this game. The character selection screen has several spots that are open and this game is built for that type of content. And even though I’m a little disappointed they weren’t initially included, I have no problem shelling out a few extra bucks for additional well-designed characters.
I find myself wanting to spend more time with the campaign mode. There isn’t much of a story, but there is enough to keep you entertained while you fight your way through the different leagues and get better at the game.
I’m not quite ready to give this game a score, I just haven’t been able to see everything the game has to offer, but I would recommend it to any Pokemon fan, any fighting game fan, or pretty much anyone that owns a Wii U.
It’s a blast, and a dream come true for us Pokemaniacs.
Read about what Pokemon 20 meant to Bryson here.