Games Review: Pokken Tournament – Being the very best has never been so easy
The long awaited Pokken Tournament for the Wii U was released yesterday!
Throughout all of the Pokémon games you have two Pokémon who take turns throwing animated moves in their opponent’s general direction. Breaking out of this norm, Pokken tournament is a game that will make you feel closer to your dream of a Pokemon trainer.
When you first start the game you arrive in Ferrum Region and are told the basic ins and outs of the game and what you can do. You then get to create your character, which can come to disappoint as the customization was quite shallow with little to pick from. You then pick your primary Pokémon and are set to go. When playing you get to pick between the Ferrum League, online battle, multiplayer, and single player.
Those who were looking for any in depth story will be sadly disappointed. There is no in depth story line of any kind. All you know if that you want to beat as many challengers as you can and level up your Pokémon (I wanna be the very best, that no one ever was~).
In Ferrum League you will fight several trainers, work your way up to become a higher rank, and have accessibility to higher leagues. However, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow as a legendary Pokémon awaits you at the final league where it then can be added to your roster. The down part of this is that there is barely any challenge. You can go through many battles before you find one that remotely mimics a challenge. If you’re used to grinding in games this can pass quite fast for you, but regardless if you want a good test of skills you will be waiting a while.
The online battling is great for someone who has the controls down and would like it to feel like a real Pokémon battle. You can play with friends on your friends list, but if no one connects with you in several seconds you will then fight a CPU character. However, in fighting games, ranked battles have always been prone to rage quitters. When they are sure they are going to lose a battle, they quickly disconnect as to not jeopardize their rank. To fight against this, Pokken is giving out penalties to those who rage quit, showing this message when they log back in:
While you can play single mode, which is just you playing against a CPU controlled character, you can play against friends in your own home. This can be great, but can get boring quickly. The good thing is that since the controls are easy anyone can jump in and have a blast, but like many fighting games it can become tedious and boring unless the two are evenly matched. Granted, whichever section you decide to play, you get experience points that help your Pokémon level up, as well as unlocking fun titles and costumes for your character. This can help the feeling of repetition as you get the satisfaction of earning something. You can also unlock titles and costumes if you have amiibos from different games.
The first thing that stood out to me when picking from the sixteen Pokémon, Pikachu Libre and Shadow Mewtwo being doubles, was how amazing they looked. You could easily see the tufts of fur they had or imagine the feel of their skin. One of the best visual parts of the Pokémon was the realistic size between them which really put Pokémon as a whole into perspective. I never remembered Gengar being that big! While sixteen is a little disappointing in terms of your selection, especially with the abundance of Pokémon in existence, many are hoping for ways to unlock more, or that there will be some great DLC possibilities. Nonetheless,the amazing attacks somewhat make it up as they are flashy and fun to watch. It is surely an amazing experience to be apart of such attacks. Another thing that picks up the slack of limited choices is that the Pokémon have unique battle styles and are grouped into the categories Technical, Standard, Power and Speed, which makes it fun to try them all out.
One particular Pokemon that stood out me was Gengar. Pokken really brings his creepy demeanor to life, the visual of his attacks being spectacular. His strong moves make up for his low HP, and he gets increasingly easier to use the more you battle with him. Now if only they could finally include Mew to the roaster, my Pokemon gaming life shall be complete.
Another unique attribute is the camera. You start off roaming around a circular battlefield until you hit certain certain combos which will turn the 3D camera to 2D where you can only move right or left like fighting game Mortal Combat or Street Fighter. There are certain attacks that are unique to each phase, so it’s best to practice with your Pokémon. While it can be confusing at first, it is all about learning your strategies and getting used to your Pokémon. You will also have to get used to watching two other gauges other than your health. When the Synergy bar fills up you get to use a powerful special attack and when the bar fills up you get to summon your helper Pokémon which aids you in battle by attacking your foe or giving you temporary boosts such as increased speed or strength.
If there is one thing that stood out as horrible it was the Wii Remote and nun-chuck controls. Having started the game with playing against a friend, I quickly realized the advantage of using the gamepad. The fact the + and – buttons are too spaced out between the 1 and 2 buttons can make it difficult to use. However, this can be solved if one would like to invest in a Wii U pro controller or even Pokken’s own pro pad controller. Even if you can’t take the investment all you would need is a little practice, since the attack controls are quite basic. The attacks are a rock-paper-scissor set up when it comes to the light and heavy attacks, grabs, and counters and the combos only need a maximum of two buttons.
All in all, Pokken Tournament definitely brings something new to the table. It’s great for those who are new to the fighting game scene who want something traditional but not as advanced as Tekken. It does feel incomplete and has a lot of room for improvement, but we can only hope that DLC and updates will come soon enough. While it brings people’s fantasies of being a Pokémon trainer closer to life with amazing visuals it doesn’t have the real Pokémon experience. Even so, it is a great addition for any Pokémon or fighting game fan.
Image Credits: Bandai Namco Studios / The Pokémon Company