Pokken Tournament DX Review – Written by Jose Vega
Product for this review is provided by Nintendo.
What do you get when you take two popular franchises and combine them together? You get something that caters to both. In this case, it’s Pokémon, an RPG franchise that specializes in capturing, battling and raising creatures and Tekken, a popular 3D fighting game franchise. Last year, Nintendo and Namco Bandai released Pokken Tournament, a fighting game involving Pokemon for the Wii U. It gained a lot of praise, despite being on a console not many owned. A year later, Nintendo would bring this to their new console and give it an upgrade in the form of Pokken Tournament DX. With this now on the Switch, does this surpass what the original lacked?
Pokken Tournament DX, like the original takes place in the Ferrum region. After creating your own character, you choose a Pokemon that you want to have as your partner. After that, you have the option to play whatever mode you wish. There are many different modes for you to choose from. For starters there’s the Ferrum League, a single-player mode where you and your partner Pokemon have to battle in hopes of being Ferrum League Champion. It’s also home to the game’s plot involving the Synergy Stone and how a strange Pokemon called Shadow Mewtwo siphoning its energy for some sinister purpose. It’s an all right story and it balances things nicely as you play. In addition to the Ferrum League, you can go into Single Battle for 1-on-1 against the CPU or if you have a friend, there’s Local Battle. For players that want to take the battle online, Online Battle is there. Online Battles give you access to ranked & player matches and you can set up tournaments too. There’s also the training mode for players that want to learn about the game and try their luck in the action or combo dojo in hopes of learning how the game and each Pokemon play. You can also customize your character in My Town and there’s a very deep amount. In addition Nia can be customized with different outfits as well. Pretty cool.
New to Pokken Tournament DX are the Team Battle and Daily Challenges. Team Battle has you choosing 3 Pokemon and using them to take on opponents in 3-on-3 battles. Daily Challenges have you battling with Pokemon that are assigned to you to earn Skill Points. I like this because it helps players be able to get Skill Points so they can raise their stats. Yes, there are RPG elements and it’s mostly for improving your Pokemon throughout the game. Not only that but the game gives you all the characters and stages right from the start. This includes Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo as well as five new characters. Four of them are characters exclusive to the arcade version while one, Decidueye is a character exclusive to this game bringing the total character count to 21. It’s quite a lot and it’ll give players incentive to try out each and every one of them. Support Pokemon are also included and like the characters, they are all unlocked from the start with the addition of a new pair: Litten and Popplio. Having them do help turn the tide of battle if things get rough and it’s always fun seeing them attack.
The gameplay is similar to the original with players using their Pokemon to duke it out on the field. Battles shift between Field Phase and Duel Phase and controls change depending on the current phase. Thankfully the controls are similar to the Wii U game and the game carries that Tekken feel. Pokken Tournament DX also follows a rock-paper-scissors mechanic in terms of attacking. There are three types: Normal, Grab and Counter. Normal beats Grab, Grab beats Counter and Counter beats Normal. Though the game is simple, it does offer a good amount of complexity in terms of its fighting system. Players who master it will dominate the battlefield, online or off. Each Pokemon also has a Synergy Burst they can use to deliver the coup de grace but it can only be done by filling up your Synergy Gauge.
Presentation-wise, the game is a big step up. The game runs at a solid 60 fps in both docked and handheld. I’m impressed that Nintendo was able to pull this off on a console like this. The stages do look colorful and at some cases, expressive. The Magikarp Festival is one example as you would never expect a stage devoted entirely to a Pokemon like Magikarp. Some stages do pay nods to the Tekken series and I like that. Characters are significant and well designed, whether it be during their attacks, animations or even their Synergy Bursts, they always have a way to provide something unique. The music is really good. Some tracks are addicting to listen to and can get you on your feet dancing. Controls are great and the game gives you access to multiple control opinions such as JoyCon, Pro Controller or even the Hori Pokken Pad. It’s pretty awesome. Gameplay is solid, load times are pretty short, customization is high and there is Amiibo support but it’s all for cosmetic purposes.
But if I had any negatives, it’s in the Ferrum League mode. Battling just to reach #1 and be able to access the Placement Test can get repetitive, albeit a bit too much. It does alleviate since you get experience to strengthen your Pokemon but some times, it can take upwards to an hour just to reach #1 and hopefully rank up. Another issue is Nia and at first, she can be very informative but her advice can be a bit tedious. Thankfully there is an option to minimize what she says in My Town so that’s a plus.
Overall Pokken Tournament DX is a big step up from the original. The game is just like the original but the presentation is a step up. There’s a lot to do and for $60, you have the complete package. With over 20 characters, loads of Support Pokemon, various ways to play and the fact that you can play it on the go really is the definitive version. If you haven’t experienced this game when it was on the Wii U, what are you waiting for? Get Pokken Tournament DX today! I promise you that you will not regret it.
I give Pokken Tournament DX a 8.5 out of 10. The game is a must own for anyone who owns a Nintendo Switch.