Pokken Tournament was originally released on the Nintendo Wii U and just like Mario Kart 8, it has received an enhanced release for the Nintendo Switch. The game was a collaboration between Bandai Namco Games and Nintendo and it was developed by the Tekken team hence the name is a spin on Tekken with Pokemon. Despite the nod to Tekken, the combat featured in Pokken Tournament DX is entirely different and plays in full 3D arena battle style with focus on two different type of camera angles that can be changed in the middle of battle with an attack. This is called phase shift and results in an interesting mix and match of combat styles.
Pokken Tournament DX features the complete roster from the original Wii U release but adds 5 new fighters for the DX version: Decidueye, Croagunk, Scizor, Empoleon, and Darkrai. New support Pokemon have also been added from the recently released Pokemon Sun and Moon while aside from characters, the game also features new gameplay modes including Team Battle and Group Match mode. The improvements don’t stop here as one of the new addition to the game is the ability to save and watch battle replays. You can also take part in daily challenges that offer rewards for Pokemon in the form of skill points or new unlockables for the player.
The combat in Pokken Tournament is not easy to grasp at first. It doesn’t feel like a traditional fighter where you have to rely on timing of attack to execute combos. The focus here is more on attacking with a limited set of moves while strategically executing special moves to exploit the weakness of the enemy. This is not to say the combat is lackluster, it can be incredibly fun and challenging to master if you have the time, but just like most fighting games, it can also suffer from the abuse of button mashing. If you do take the time to dive deep into it though, it can prove to be incredibly satisfying.
Pokken Tournament DX is not a traditional fighter, the combat phase features two different camera styles. One of them bears similarity to the Naruto Ninja Storm series with the way the camera presents the player and the enemy on the screen, but it plays differently. The camera angle changes if you manage to trigger a phase shift which occurs during specific attack conditions. Phase shift results in a traditional 2D type combat and also triggers a complete change of the combat moves for each Pokemon. It helps keep the combat refreshing since the limited move set might get repetitive after multiple battles. You will be able to trigger these phase shifts one after another keeping the combat interesting. The Pokemon featured in the game can be classified in 3 different categories depending on their weight and power. Their attacks are either fast paced or can prove to be slow but powerful making them tricky to master. I mostly played with my trustworthy Charizard who attacked slow but did major damage if used with skill.
On the surface, the combat in Pokken Tournament might not look like much, but it can prove to be incredibly deep for what it offers. You can perform counters, special moves and even cancel out of attacks to perform combos. They might not be as deep as a traditional fighter like Tekken but they work well enough for what Pokken is trying to achieve here. You can also use support Pokemon in battle but they are mostly neglected to performing either an offensive or supporting move during the battle. You get a set of two Support Pokemon that you can choose before battle and you will be able to switch them after each round. The usage of the Support Pokemon depends on their recharge time. Some of them can recharge quickly while others will take longer to recharge their moves. You will have to pick these support Pokemon depending on how you approach each battle.
Pokken Tournament also offers the ability to customize the stats of each Pokemon. You can get skill points that you will be able to spend on your Pokemon. You will have to use them in battle in order to get them to level up while some of the daily challenges also offer skill points but since they are random, you won’t be able to use your favorite Pokemon there. The stats that can be upgraded are the attack, defense, special move or the support Pokemon recharge time. You get one skill point after each level up which can be allocated to any of these 4 categories.
One of the features that I enjoyed as a newcomer to the game was the detailed tutorial mode. You will be able to learn almost everything about the combat system through the tutorial mode so it proves to be extremely useful for those who are playing this game for the first time. You can also practice combos for each of the individual Pokemon here. This can come handy if you want to test your skills online and have to practice your own combos.
Team Battle mode is perhaps the best new feature in Pokken Tournament DX. It lets you select a team of 3 Pokken and then fight one after another. Since the normal game encounters are limited to just 1 vs. 1 battle, this is refreshing to have in case you have multiple favorite Pokemon. It also helps that multiplayer is simply better on the Nintendo Switch so if you enjoy local battles, this mode can be highly enjoyable. Aside from that, the game also supports Wireless mode between two different Nintendo Switch and online multiplayer if you want to test your skills worldwide.
Pokken Tournament DX Review (Switch)
Game Reviewed on: Switch
Game description: Take the battle anywhere and challenge anyone with Pokkén Tournament DX, an intense one-on-one Pokémon fighting game for Nintendo Switch!
Pokken Tournament DX might not be a big jump in term of features from the Wii U version unlike Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but it does offer the best way to play the game. The additional new characters are fun to use and the Team Battle mode is a nice addition for multiplayer while utilizing the portable nature of the Nintendo Switch.