Published on April 25th, 2016 | by Zorbz
REVIEW: Pokken Tournament
Summary: Move out of the way Pokemon Stadium, because a real Pokemon fighting game is here. Fast frenetic action in a hybrid of 3D and 2D fighting games, Pokken Tournament brings the goods in this Wii U exclusive, but how does it stack up to other contemporary fighters on the market?
Concept: TO BE THE VERY BEST! This has been the concept of all Pokemon games, well at least the underlying theme. Trainers capture Pokemon and as their title suggests, train them to do battle in their pursuit to become the greatest Pokemon trainer of all time. So strip story out of this, as this game is all about the brawling and enter the Pokemon tournaments as you fight one on one Pokemon battles, making your way up through the ranks to, wait for it, become the very best, like no one ever was.
“I WILL EAT YOUR SOUL”
Graphics: Upon first glance I was actually a bit disappointed in the visuals, but taking a step back and realizing that this is running on last gen hardware compared to the likes of Mortal Kombat X and Street Fighter V on current gen, which I have become so used to, my opinions changed. Characters are big, vibrant and colourful and really do pop on screen. What is most impressive is the animations and special effects that left me dazzled, especially when pulling off a super move, which is truly eye candy. Backgrounds and arenas are all varied and unique which is great, however some of the backgrounds just simply lack textures and look pretty atrocious, whilst others are full of charm. It definitely is a mixed bag. Characters however are all top notch.
Gameplay: Battles in Pokken Tournament consist of two phases, starting off in the ‘field phase’ which is a 3D battle system much like the Naruto games. This phase features full 3D motion and focuses more on ranged combat, whilst the ‘duel phase’ is more akin to Tekken or Street Fighter, featuring a 2D fighting plane and more close combat mechanics. These phase transitions are triggered by certain attacks which really change up the flow of battle and definitely make for some interesting match-ups. The game features an extensive tutorial as the mechanics, although basic at first, are actually quite diverse and provide a lot of depth for pro players to delve into. Characters are not too drastically different in their fighting styles, making it easy to use everyone, which will either be a plus or a negative for fighting game fans. Battles also feature support characters that you can summon when your gauge fills during a match. These support characters can be unlocked by competing in the League mode of the game and just give that extra little touch to battles. Filling up your synergy meter is the main goal of a battle as this enables you to transform into a mega evolution of your character allowing you to unleash more powerful attacks and ultimately your insanely strong and visually pleasing super attack.
Multiplayer: Pokken Tournament’s Multiplayer offers both online and offline battles. As you would imagine, playing this in local multiplayer is going to require you to purchase a Wii U pro controller or the limited edition Pokken Tournament Pro pad to get the most out of the action. As for online, you can definitely manage on the gamepad, however certain commands can become cumbersome on such a big controller, so I would recommend either of the two previously mentioned controllers. Battles themselves feature both friendly and ranked matches and surprisingly start up fairly quick considering the lack of online players, which is a big plus, especially for fighting game fans who are seemingly waiting forever in Street Fighter V. How long people stick to playing Pokken Tournament online though remains to be seen.
Sound: Music in fighting games can either be a hit or miss. In some cases music can really add to the energy of battles or just be an annoyance. Fortunately Pokemon over the years has created some recognizable melodies and tunes and these have been implemented perfectly within the game. My main grievance in the sound department is the constant squeaks and squeals during battles, but that’s to be expected when dealing with Pokemon. Also the announcer during bouts really doesn’t do the game any justice and just becomes downright annoying. All in all the music is what counts and that does a good job of keeping with the flow.
Worst Pokemon EVER!
Awesomeness: Finally a Pokemon fighting game that is fast, frenetic and actually lets you beat up the other Pokemon instead of watching them from a distance like the old stadium games. I was actually pretty excited when I saw this game announced on the arcade and then finding out it was coming to Wii U, however I think I over hyped it for myself. The game is just way to bare bones for a console release, especially when you see what a fighting game these days can be, for example Mortal Kombat X which offers such a robust set of features. With no story mode or unlockable fighters, besides Mew-two, there just really wasn’t any reason for me to continue playing as I found myself getting bored quite easily. The game only sports 16 fighters, and sure this may be alright if the characters fighting styles were extremely diverse, however seeing as there isn’t much difference, it becomes very monotonous. With over 700 or so Pokemon in existence, I also found the selection of fighters to be questionable, especially ‘Chandelure’ which has to be one of the lamest Pokemon in existence.
Final Word: Pokken Tournament offers a great starting point based on the mechanics and visuals alone, however should their be a sequel, I personally would like to see a much larger roster, or at least characters that sport a very distinct style to one another. A story mode would also go a long way to complete the overall package and help the franchise to contend against the more established fighting game franchises.
Score out of 5 bugs