Back when the Wii U was a thing, a pretty good but poorly marketed thing that, Pokémon fans see what it would be like if Pokémon fought under a more action based situation in Pokkén Tournament. The promise of a brand new main series Pokémon game is coming to the Switch has very likely gotten Pokémon fans excited, and what’s better to fuel the excitement than a remake of the pretty decent spinoff.
Pokkén Tournament DX, will the included improvements make the release super effective, or is it more useless than an underdeveloped Magikarp flopping about? Find out in our late review (oh so late), after the break!
Pokkén Tournament DX
Developed by The Pokémon Company and Bandai Namco
Published by The Pokémon Company and Bandai Namco
Released: 22nd September 2017
Screenshots courtesy of Nintendo
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Back when I first reviewed Pokkén just over a year ago, I had never really gotten into fighter games, with the exception of Smash, yet I really enjoyed Pokkén, and the same can be said about DX. Everything you know and love from the original has returned, but now it’s beefier than the gorgeous Machamp!
Quick recap for those who have yet to play the original on Wii U, Pokkén Tournament DX is a over the shoulder 3D fighter were you’ll engage two Pokémon in battle, think Tekkén but with Pokémon. There are three main types of attack you can perform, all of which conveniently contribute to the attack triangle. Regular attacks trump grabs, grabs trump counters, and counters trump regular. This mechanic is where the main strategy is involved, but there are also other contributors too, such as combos to deal continuous damage, support Pokémon to buff yourself and debuff your enemies, and Synergy Burst to perform some totally OP damage.
The most unique mechanic of Pokkén is the fact that battles will fluently flow between two different phases, field and dual. You’ll start off in the field phase, which acts more like Tekken on a over the shoulder 3D plane. If a player receives enough continuous damage, the phase will change to duel. Similar to the likes of Street Fighter, this phase is a side on view of a 2D plane. If you’d like to read a more detailed explanation on all the mechanics, you can do so at your own leisure in our original review here!
Pokkén Tournament DX does pretty well to introduce some brand new features. One of the more notable features is the brand new rule-set of three vs. three team battles. This rule set is a tiny bit more similar to how actual Pokémon battles work. Instead of battling a set number of times, you get to choose three Pokémon to take into battle with you. Once one of your Pokémon have fainted, you throw your next one into battle. If all three of your Pokémon faint, you are eliminated. As there isn’t any mid-battle switching (tagging) allowed, it doesn’t really change the flow of play too much, it’s still a nice feature to have.
Daily Challenges is another new feature introduced in DX. As the name suggests, each day you have the chance to partake in a new challenge. Doing so will reward you with skill points to level up specific Pokémon, or new items of clothing to kit out your trainer (if you haven’t had enough commercialism as it is). It’s a neat new mode, however it feels like it falls of short of any variety. From the time I’ve played around with it, it has only offered me to partake in a battle of the three main rule set using a specific Pokémon and support Pokémon and having to win a couple of times. It’s great if you want to try out a random Pokémon but it feels like a missed opportunity to include some interesting clear conditions.
Pokkén DX includes five new Pokémon, four from the arcade version and one unique to DX. They are Darkrai, Scizor, Croagunk, Empoleon, and Decidueye. My personal favourite (besides Machamp from the original) is Decidueye. He can glide around in the air for a bit and perform some rather nifty air combos. Not only that, but his Synergy Burst Attack is nothing to snuff at! There are also two new supporting Pokémon, Sun and Moon starters Litten and Popplio… I’m assuming Rowlett didn’t make the cut. Litten will perform Fire Fang, which will do more damage the lower your opponent’s HP is, whereas Popplio will use Bubble Beam to increase your attack and let you perform a double jump. Finally, there are two new arenas: Snow Gift and Talia Beach.
The game is twice as fun with a second player… heck it’s probably three or four times the fun. Split the JoyCons and you are instantly ready for a two player battle, alternatively, you can use to JoyCon pairs or two Switch Pro Pads. What’s neat is the fact that you can choose whether to play in split screen or to alternate between which over the shoulder camera to use between battles. Unfortunately the split screen mode can be fairly choppy frame rate wise, so it’s probably best to stick to single camera play which works a lot better. If your buddy also has a Nintendo Switch and a copy of Pokkén Tournament DX, you both get your own screen in wireless play, which works fantastically. No more does one player have to suffer a massive graphical downgrade like in the Wii U version. The frame rate feels pretty good too, even in portable mode.
Online play obviously makes a return, and it runs pretty well. Though for the more serious player, you may want to participate in the newly introduced Ranked Battles. If you want to improve your game, there are still plenty of training options available, but why not look back on your battles past in replays. Not only can you look at replays, but you can also turn on the input overlay so you can specifically see which actions you made… or which random buttons you mashed. Bear in mind however that replays are only saved from battles against other players on different consoles.
Pokkén Tournament was already a pretty solid Pokémon spinoff, and with thanks to all the new features, Pokkén Tournament DX seems to have become a better version of the title.