Pokkén Tournament DX Review
After originally launching on the Wii U in 2015, Pokkén Tournament is back on the Switch with Pokkén Tournament DX. Did this fighter successfully make the jump, or should it have stayed on Nintendo’s previous platform?
Pokken Tournament DX Review
To preface this review, I will be completely honest and say that I am an absolute noob at fighting games. So, like any noob, I went to Pokkén Tournament DX’s tutorial first to learn how to play. There are three tutorials, each of which will teach you both basic and advanced attacks. When I say the basics, I truly mean the basics. They teach you how to move and jump, making sure nothing is overlooked. One thing I really liked about the tutorial is the fact that they show you the moves before you have to do them. Nothing felt overwhelming, and you can get through it in about 10 minutes. That is, until two more tutorials are unlocked. These two will help you learn the techniques of a pro, but neither are required to enjoy the game.
There isn’t much of a story, with the closest thing available being the Ferrum League. In it, you will fight your way up the ranks to defeat gradually stronger opponents until you get a chance to rank up. Starting in the Green League, you will work your way up from D through A rank, facing multiple opponents and battles along the way. When you rank up enough, you are allowed to enter a tournament. Winning that grants the opportunity to fight for a new rank. Rank D is insanely easy, and you can get through the entirety of it without blocking. As you climb the ranks, however, the opponents start throwing in new moves and combos, gradually forcing the player to try new things to proceed. While you are doing this, you also have missions that will help you gain more gold and new titles. Those that complete every mission can unlock a picture as well. This place is a fantastic place to upgrade Pokémon and hone your skills.
Speaking of Pokémon, there are 21 to choose from. Plenty of fan favorites make appearances, such as Pikachu, Charizard, and Lucario. Some more obscure, low-key Pokemon like Empoleon and Chandelure also make an appearance. Even if your favorite isn’t here, the game makes it easy to find one that fits your play style. The Pokémon are broken up into four categories: speed, power, technical, and standard. After playing a few battles with each type, you will find out which play to your strengths and weaknesses. Even if your Pokémon isn’t a fighter, it might still be a support character. There are 32 support Pokémon in all, all of which can help in battle after building a support meter. They can attack, buff you up, or interrupt opponents to help you get out of a combo. Changing up which support Pokémon to bring against certain opponents is one of the keys to victory.
As mentioned before, the tutorial is as deep and complex as you want it to be. Even without doing the advanced tutorials, the game does a fantastic job of making a casual fighting player feel like they are good. Basic button combos like “three Xs” or “down and three As” can still send opponents flying. The weight and impact of the hits make you feel like you are a pro, even if you are not. This may work in the Ferrum League, but the online community is a completely different story.
As of this writing, the game has yet to launch. This means that for this review, I was mostly fighting other journalists. My battles were pretty close for the most part, with me losing in the third round. There were moments that I felt like I knew what I was doing, which is something I have never felt in a fighting game. However, I quickly found those that I could only get a single hit in between their endless juggle combos.
Of the ten matches I played, I only ran into one with a slight stutter at the start of the match. Outside of that, the network infrastructure worked as it should. You can play ranked matches, friendly matches, or group matches. The one thing I wasn’t sure about was how they balance the stats of your Pokémon from the single player modes. If you leveled your Pokémon up outside of multiplayer, it still comes in with those stats that you boosted. As mentioned before, most fights felt close, so it most likely is balanced on the back end. As an added bonus, Pokémon do get experience through online battles as well.
Other than online and the Ferrum League, you can do single battles, local battles, and daily challenges. The daily challenges ask you to play a certain Pokémon and to win a certain amount of battles for bonus stat points and cash. You can spend the cash in the town for new outfits, new hair, or new backgrounds like flames or confetti. In town, you can change the Advisor’s outfit, which is unlocked by default, and how she helps between rounds. She plays a crucial part in battles, giving you minor boosts depending on how you perform each round. There are a ton of outfits for your character to choose from as well, but you have to earn the cash to purchase them with coins acquired throughout the game.
There are a couple of weird nitpicks I have with the game. There is a lack of stages, so you are constantly fighting in the same locales throughout the game. In addition, the backgrounds of some of these levels look smudged when the Switch is docked. Another thing that seems to have suffered on the Switch are the shadow effect on fighters, and come off as blurry and jagged in parts. In handheld mode, the game works as it should, and the shadows and backgrounds do not stick out as much. It is splitting hairs, but it is something I noticed multiple times.
Pokkén Tournament DX can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Whether you are a fighting game fan or are just looking to get your toes wet, it is a great title for both newbies and pros alike.