Much like the original Splatoon, Pokkén Tournament was a game that I initially missed when it released for the Nintendo Wii U back in 2015.  Unlike many of the flux of HD remasters we see crossover from last-gen to this generation, perhaps this common trend of ports make more sense coming over from the Wii U to the Switch, given the previous consoles disappointing sales and the surging popularity of Nintendo’s latest hybrid system.  So going into Pokkén Tournament DX with a fresh set of eyes, it at least gives me the perspective of someone totally new to this somewhat popular beat-em up, which despite the Wii U’s failings, it actually sold more copies then Street Fighter V by the end of April 2016.

So what exactly does the DX version bring to the table that its predecessor did not.  Well for starters, other than having slightly better visuals and performance (which I’ve recently tested after my son picked up the Wii U version) and the huge benefit of being able to play the game on the home TV screen and of course now on the go, it comes with some new and exclusive characters, modes and much more.

For starters, DX now includes legendary Pokémon; Shadow Mewtwo from the get go, who was only available with certain special copies of Pokkén Tournament on the Wii U.  In addition to Shadow Mewtwo, DX also includes five new Pokémon exclusive to DX such as Croagunk, Darkrai, Decidueye, Empoleon and Scizor, and when including the playable characters from the previous version of Pokkén Tournament, that brings us to a total of 20 playable Pokémon and 20  stages.

It would be easy to assume that Pokémon Tournament DX is catering for the young gamers, and in the most part that would be a correct assumption as the game is very easy on the eye with its colourful characters, vibrant colours and easy to navigate menu.  However, considering that this game is developed by a team from Bandai Namco (the creators of the Tekken series), just looking at each of the Pokémon’s move-list, you’ll soon find that Pokkén Tournament DX has a surprising amount of depth, with each one feeling different from the last and each will take a degree of time and dedication to master.  Add that to the fact that each playable Pokémon is upgradable the more you use them, it adds an extra layer of depth that more established franchises in the genre simply do not have.

During the heat of the battle, when hitting certain moves, it will change the camera perspective from the normal 3D perspective known as “Field Phase” to a more old school 2D perspective called “Dual Phase”.  It may seem like a small feature, but when it battle, it helps keep the players on their toes.  Before you enter each battle, you’ll get to choose support team (16 in total) with consists of two Pokémon to choose from to help you defeat your opponent when the support gauge is full.  Depending on which pairing you choose, they could give you a temporally damage or speed boost, or even slow down your opponent for a brief time.  They can also help fill up your Synergy Gauge, which when full with a press of L+R, will unleash your Pokémon’s power more dealing extra damage.  Also exclusive to the DX version are the support team of Litten and Popplio from Pokémon Moon and Pokémon Sun.

In terms of modes in Pokkén Tournament DX, you have your usual 1-on-1 fights to choose from, whether that be against a CPU or online and with the use of the Joy-Con’s or extra controllers, the game also has local-play, which in this day and age is an unfortunate and increasing rarity.  You can even choose battles with in-match modifiers if you choose.  You can also partake in the Ferrum League, which acts as the games Arcade mode if you will.  However, the more you play and move up the leagues in this mode, then more challenging opponents you will encounter.  As often with games of this genre, Pokkén Tournament DX also has a Practice mode, which given the surprising amount of depth that this game has, speaking as a newcomer to the game, this feature should not be overlooked as there is quite a lot to learn and master.  In my brief experience in playing Pokkén Tournament DX online, I found very little struggle in finding online opponents and considering how popular Pokémon is across all ages, hopefully this game will sustain its online player base.

Pokkén Tournament DX also includes some exclusive modes, such as Team Battle, which is inspired by the likes of Marvel vs. Capcom, where you can choose a team of three Pokémon to battle it out against an opposing team offline or online.  Daily Challenges does pretty much what it says on the tin, for which the challenges will change from day to day, each with their own rewards.  While Daily Challenge doesn’t really offer that much of a “challenge”, it does give you the opportunity to try out and level-up Pokémon you may not have tried out just yet.

Taking it online, you can join an online other than the traditional ranked and unranked matches, you can try out the Group Match (exclusive to DX), where you can find like minded players at your skill level  to battle it out against one another to help fine tune your skills and hopefully make some new friends from across the globe.  Having tried out some of the online matches, I can safely say that my experience was rather smooth, with no major issues of match lag, at least from my personal experience.  And if you don’t get your backside handed to your online, you can save the replay of your online battles (also exclusive to DX) or even watch those of more skilled players in the hope of learning something new.

At the moment, other than Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers and some NeoGeo emulators on the Nintendo Switch store, there’s not a great deal to pick from in this genre for the Switch.  However, Pokkén Tournament DX should be looked at as a ‘make-do’ alternative for your beat ‘em’ up fix, as much like your 3D fighters such as the Tekken’s and Soul Calibur’s of this world, this is a very competent fighter in its own right.  However, even with the new character additions, and considering the huge library of Pokémon, it would have been great to take the playable character count to at least 30, but perhaps I’m just being spoilt.  But that said, the developers have done a great job in choosing unique Pokémon that feel very different from the last.

It genuinely surprised me how much fun I have while playing Pokkén Tournament DX and it without a doubt earns its place as one of the most fun fighting games in recent years.  It’s fair to say that this game will perhaps only really appeal to Pokémon fans and there’s every chance you may or may not invest if you already own the Wii U version, but should you choose to invest on this Switch outing, then you’ll find yourself putting many an hour master the art of becoming your very own Pokémon master.



Author

Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake