Pokken Tournament on the Wii U was an interesting game. Based on the Arcade game, Pokken Tournament was a fighting game that had heavy Tekken influences, since the game was developed by Bandai-Namco (Pokken, Tekken. Come on, I know you see it!) The Nintendo Switch has been getting some enhanced ports of Wii U titles in the first year, and Pokken Tournament seemed like a good candidate for that considering the original title was slightly limited in terms of the hardware power of the Wii U. So is Pokken Tournament DX the “ultimate” edition of Pokken?
Pokken Tournament DX is at its core a fighting game involving different Pokemon. When on the battlefield, the game has 2 main points of emphasis: Field Phase and Dual Phase. Field Phase is the open aspect of the game, where you run around dishing damage to your opponent. You then shift into the Dual Phase, which plays out more like a traditional fighter with a 2D view. Transitioning from Phase to Phase is dependent on what happens on the battlefield, but more than likely you will experience both phases within a single battle. I like this aspect of the game, as it keeps things fresh.
The combat works on a “triangle” system when it comes to what will work against your opponent. A normal attack will beat a grab attack, a grab attack will be a counter attack, and a counter attack will beat a normal attack. Learning what to use and when is pretty essential if you want to play this game as a more in-depth fighter than just a random button masher, which I quickly learned.
Two more key aspects of the gameplay are Synergy Attacks and Support Pokemon. Synergy is gained throughout a match and fills up a meter. When the meter is full, you can access the Synergy stage for your Pokemon you chose that will essentially make them a more powerful and faster version of them, allowing you to dish out major attacks, including a VERY powerful Burst Attack that will do some major damage to your opponent. Support Pokemon are chosen before the match begins, and offer various things when their meter is filled up, such as HP boosts, or attacks.
If you didn’t play the original game on the Wii U (I only dabbled in the demo), I highly suggest you use the Training Mode to learn the basics of the game and hone your skills. It’s a pretty unique fighting game with a lot of things going on, and the Training Mode actually does a very solid job of giving you the basic and advanced tactics that Pokken Tournament DX offers. It can be a bit overbearing and jarring at first, but the Training Mode really helps flesh out the gameplay.
And honestly, the gameplay is pretty fun. I’m not really into more modern fighters so it was a bit of a learning curve for me, but once I adjusted to how the game plays and works I actually found myself having a lot of fun with it. The Pokemon are flashy and each feel pretty unique from one another, so I had a good time exploring the different types of Pokemon to see what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Pokken Tournament DX offers a lot of gameplay modes in order to keep things fresh as well. There are daily challenges, single battles, online battles, and of course the story mode which is called Ferrum League. Ferrum League has you choosing a Pokemon and going through a series of battles, trying to achieve a higher rank. There is a bit of a narrative that plays out as the story progresses and you gain higher levels, and it gets the job done.
New to the Switch version are a couple key things as well. The game offers all of the Arcade characters (the Wii U was missing 4) and even includes an exclusive one to this version of the game, Decidueye. The game also runs better at a smooth 60FPS and allows for more local multiplayer options than the Wii U offered because of system limitations. What’s more, a new mode with 3 v. 3 Battles has been added to the Switch version which is an exclusive.
The presentation of Pokken Tournament DX is pretty solid. Graphically speaking, the characters themselves look great, although some of the backgrounds are pretty disappointing and bland, and a tad blurry at times. Burst Attacks look phenomenal and really are flashy, and the aforementioned 60FPS really makes the game run very smoothly. The audio in the game is solid as well, with enjoyable music and solid voice work.
All in all, I didn’t expect to like Pokken Tournament DX as much as I ended up liking it. The learning curve and adjustment were pretty brutal, but once I got in tune with how the game operated, I found myself playing for hours and hours. If you didn’t pick up the Wii U version of the game, I highly suggest you check out Pokken Tournament DX as it really is the best version of the game. If you are a Wii U veteran of the series, there may not be enough here to warrant a second purchase, but diehard Pokken fans will want to check it out. Pokken Tournament DX is another fantastic Switch release and a game that fighting fans will want to check out.