Hello! PJ here with a review on Pokken Tournament for the Wii U.
Pokken Tournament was developed by Bandai Namco’s Tekken team, and it shows. Pokken Tournament is a 3D/2D fighter with similar controls to the Tekken series. What do I mean by 3D/2D? Well, Pokken Tournament switches between two different “phases” during battle, being Field phase (3D) and Duel phase (2D). Each game starts in Field phase and switches based on damage and attacks during the battle. In Duel phase, players are given access to new moves and the ability to do combos similar to those in Tekken.
Pokken Tournament’s gameplay sounds very unique, but it doesn’t stop there! In order to compete with other players, you must understand Pokken Tournament’s mechanics and how to properly use it. Pokken Tournament uses something called “Attack Triangle”, which works in a Rock-Paper-Scissors fashion. While every Pokemon uses these attacks there’s variation among them (Mewtwo’s counter is Fire Punch, Pikachu Libre’s grab is Electroweb, etc.) Understanding the Attack-Triangle and your Pokemon’s unique properties will give you those precious victories in battle! If that’s too much to take in, don’t worry, Pokken Tournament has an excellent tutorial mode that’s great for both beginners and experts. It goes into a lot of detail and explains the mechanics very well.
In terms of content, Pokken Tournament has plenty to offer. The main mode, Ferrum League, follows you and your partner Pokemon in an attempt to climb up the leagues and reach the top. While that’s going on, there’s a mystery about a corrupted Mewtwo causing problems for everyone. Why is Mewtwo bad? Why is he black? Who knows! It’s your job to take care of it. The story and voice acting aren’t exactly great, but there’s plenty to do and it changes up the gameplay. Completing the main story will unlock Mewtwo and some post-game content (and by that I mean two extra leagues to compete in), which reward you with Shadow Mewtwo upon completion.. There’s also My Town, which allows you to create an avatar, buy and change features and clothing, and set a comment and title. Nothing much to say about it but it’s a nice feature. In terms of battle options you have Single Battle (vs. the CPU), Local Battle (which is locked at 30 FPS and requires one person to use the gamepad), and LAN mode, which requires two Wii Us but allows for local play with 60 FPS and freedom in controller selection. This will definitely be the tournament standard moving forward.
Pokken Tournament offers 16 Pokemon, with Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo as the only unlockable characters. While the roster isn’t very large, each Pokemon is unique and fun to play. Each Pokemon is given a label based on their playstyle. (Lucario is standard, Sceptile is speed, Charizard is power, Shadow Mewtwo is technical, etc.). This makes it very easy to find a Pokemon you’ll enjoy. The game is pretty balanced; the only character I thought seemed particularly underwhelming was Braixen, but everyone else seems that they’re strong in their own way. Taking part in matches online and offline will let your Pokemon level up and see an increase its stats. This doesn’t really add much to the game outside of single player, but it’s a nice callback to the main games.
Of course, Pokken has an online mode with the options of Ranked Matches or Casual Matches. Ranked Matches let you compete for points and rank up – you’ll start out at E5 and you can make your way up to A1. The higher your rank, the more likely you’ll face off against better players. Casual Matches speak for themselves, casual battles against your friend or random players. Pokken’s netcode is solid and the game runs great when online, but when people have bad connections, you’ll notice it. It can be very annoying when matches come to a screeching halt and you’re left hoping to God that your opponent’s connection fixes itself. Disconnecting counts as a loss and you’ll lose some Pokegold (used to buy items for your avatar), so leaving a laggy game is gonna cost you.
Overall, Pokken Tournament is a fun and unique fighter with tons of offline content, a solid online mode and a great training and tutorial mode for everyone. Most people who grew up with this franchise dreamed of the idea of a Pokemon fighting game; it took a long time but it’s finally here, and was worth the wait. If you are a fan of Pokemon or fighting games in general, you owe it to yourself to pick up this game. Easy to pick up but hard to master, it’s fun for the casual and the hardcore alike. If we’re to see more Pokemon fighting games in the future, this one was a great step in the right direction. It rocks my socks.
+Deep tutorial modes
+Diverse and balanced roster
-Single player is a grind
One last thing! I ran into Gimpyfish in a ranked match. It just so happened to be recorded on his stream! Check it out here!