Video Game Review: Pokkén Tournament – Ha-Pokkén! – Geek Node

Video Game Review: Pokkén Tournament – Ha-Pokkén!

Written by
  • Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • The Pokémon Company
  • Nintendo Distributor South Africa
  • Nintendo Distributor South Africa
  • Fighter
  • Single Player, Multiplayer
  • 2
  • Wii U

It’s finally here, the Pokémon game that fans of the anime have been waiting for. While the main Pokémon series is great and all, it doesn’t offer the intensity of the battles that the viewers of the anime see each episode and so it’s nice to see Pokémon battle in a bit of a different light. But while Pokkén Tournament looks like a breath of fresh air and it has quite a few heavy hitters behind it, is there enough for it to land a critical hit?

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Let’s get the jabs out other fighters out of the way before we start looking at Pokkén Tournament. This game, unlike another high profile fighting game, will release as a full package with everything in the game from launch. This means you’ll have access to all gameplay modes and characters from the start with no additional purchases required, unless of course they add DLC at a later date which seems highly unlikey. Now that the potshots at other games are out of the way, let’s take a look see if Pokkén Tournament is able to provide a worthwhile Pokémon fighting game experience.

Pokkén Tournament feels, at least to me, like a very strange game. As you should know by now, Pokkén was developed by the team behind the Tekken series, but while it started as Tekken with Pokémon, the game quickly came into its own as a title. While it does feel like a Tekken game at times, it does enough to keep itself unique from its roots. The aim of Pokkén Tournament was to create an accessible fighting game experience with Pokémon and while the game has delivered on this, I feel it does unfortunately stumble in some places.

Pokkén Tournament offers a pretty simplistic fighting game system that is pretty straightforward but does feel like it just needs more to it. After doing the tutorial the whole game is pretty much open to you as a player, without much of the more advanced techniques being left for advanced tutorials. There are of course advanced tutorials, but those are more suited to show off very specific situations and teaching players how to efficiently handle them. I will admit that I enjoyed Pokkén Tournament’s tutorial as I felt well equipped to take on other players from the get go, which is pretty rare in fighting games. Pokkén’s fighting system is easy to pick up and play, but once you’ve gotten used to how it plays you’ve unfortunately gone as far as you can with the game. It’s quite possible that I missed some of the subtle nuances of the game during my time with it, but it just felt like I was incredibly restricted as to what I could do in the game. While all seemed fine when I was fighting the AI, the moment I went online everything changed.

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With the online features of the game only being made available much later during the review period, I didn’t get to spend as much time as I had hoped to with other players, but the experience I had was incredibly polarizing. First of all, the netcode for Pokkén is great, I only seemed to be matched against players in Germany during my online sessions and I fortunately didn’t experience terrible lag. There was obviously a bit of latency between us, but it was by no means unplayable. The problem that I had with my matches was that you would either body your opponent, or get bodied. I like to think that I’m not terrible at the game so this could be attributed to the simplistic nature of the game. I hope that I am wrong in this regard, but we might only see that once the game is played at EVO this year.

Even though Pokkén Tournament is a fighting game, so people will primarily focus on the competitive aspects of the game, there is a lot more to it that is still quite fun. Outside of training and single battles there is the Ferrum League which makes up Pokkén’s single player experience. Even though the league is pretty simplistic and there isn’t much to be said about the story, which feels like it’s just there for minor entertainment value, it’s still quite a fun part of the game. You essentially battle your way up the league and unlock various avatar cosmetics, stages and support sets for the game. While the cosmetics and stages don’t change the game too much, the various support unlocks can be helpful in your battles, but their impact can easily missed at no fault to what the supports actually offer.

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So this is where I feel Pokkén falls down a bit flat. Support Pokémon come in predetermined sets and range from rather lackluster to game changing. The problem is that while they’re there to be helpful in battle, you’re incredibly limited in selection. Out of all the selectable support sets you can only select 3, of which you can only select 1 when it comes to Pokémon select. While this seems pretty reasonable, it means that the more niche sets aren’t really worth it while picking as you never know what you’re going to face when you go into a match. This means that you’re only ever going to pick the strongest one for your selected Pokémon, essentially limiting the potential diversity the game may have. While this could be managed in a tournament, it’s not much fun when it comes to online play where you just end up seeing the same thing over and over again. There are also just too many menus you have to make your way through to change your chooseable support sets. These can’t easily be changed in the online menu which just makes one of the core mechanics of the game more of a frustration than it should be. But even with these silly issues, I ended up having a lot of fun with the game.

At the end of the day, while there is a lot that Pokkén Tournament could easily improve on, it’s still a fun game. While Nintendo may be hoping that this game is able to pick up a dedicated competitive following like Smash, I feel like this game is not going to be able to grasp that. I do however feel that Pokkén Tournament is a solid starting point for a Pokémon fighting game series and that, with some decent revisions, could be made into an interesting and enjoyable competitive fighting game. So for now I can easily recommend you pick up Pokkén Tournament if the idea of the game pleases you and you’re looking for a different but enjoyable fighting game experience. If you were hoping for something that you could pick up to play competitively however you may want too reconsider this game. Pokkén Tournament just doesn’t feel as tight as other competitive fighters and I feel like this may be the downfall of what could easily be built into an entertaining competitive fighting game.

It's finally here, the Pokémon game that fans of the anime have been waiting for. While the main Pokémon series is great and all, it doesn't offer the intensity of the battles that the viewers of the anime see each episode and so it's nice to see Pokémon battle in a bit of a different light. But while Pokkén Tournament looks like a breath of fresh air and it has quite a few heavy hitters behind it, is there enough for it to land a critical hit? Let's get the jabs out other fighters out of the way before we start looking at Pokkén Tournament. This game, unlike another high profile fighting game, will release as a full package with everything in the game from launch. This means you'll have access to all gameplay modes and characters from the start with no additional purchases required, unless of course they add DLC at a later date which seems highly unlikey. Now that the potshots at other games are out of the way, let's take a look see if Pokkén Tournament is able to provide a worthwhile Pokémon fighting game experience. Pokkén Tournament feels, at least to me, like a very strange game. As you should know by now, Pokkén was developed by the team behind the Tekken series, but while it started as Tekken with Pokémon, the game quickly came into its own as a title. While it does feel like a Tekken game at times, it does enough to keep itself unique from its roots. The aim of Pokkén Tournament was to create an accessible fighting game experience with Pokémon and while the game has delivered on this, I feel it does unfortunately stumble in some places. Pokkén Tournament offers a pretty simplistic fighting game system that is pretty straightforward but does feel like it just needs more to it. After doing the tutorial the whole game is pretty much open to you as a player, without much of the more advanced techniques being left for advanced tutorials. There are of course advanced tutorials, but those are more suited to show off very specific situations and teaching players how to efficiently handle them. I will admit that I enjoyed Pokkén Tournament's tutorial as I felt well equipped to take on other players from the get go, which is pretty rare in fighting games. Pokkén's fighting system is easy to pick up and play, but once you've gotten used to how it plays you've unfortunately gone as far as you can with the game. It's quite possible that I missed some of the subtle nuances of the game during my time with it, but it just felt like I was incredibly restricted as to what I could do in the game. While all seemed fine when I was fighting the AI, the moment I went online everything changed. With the online features of the game only being made available much later during the review period, I didn't get to spend as…

It's super effective!

Total - 7

7

It's not going to change the fighting game scene but it is an enjoyable game. Pokkén Tournament is quite simple fun that will tide you over for a good couple of hours but it won't do much for you after that. The simplicity of the game is its greatest asset but also its greatest downfall, it does however remain an enjoyable experience which will hopefully generate a dedicated scene for it.

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BiPolarBear

Gaming Author at Geek Node
The best person to offer the worst opinion. Paul's interests include adding 100 hour JRPGs to his backlog and dark walks through dungeons. You'll probably find him rambling on about old man Nintendo or that crazy newfangled eSports thingy.
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