Whenever a new console comes out, it's bound to have plenty of rehashes. Pokkén Tournament DX may be an update of last year's Wii U Pokémon fighter but does it provide enough new content to warrant another purchase?
Having just reviewed Bandai Namco's Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Legacy, diving back into the combat of Pokkén Tournament made me realise just how similar the two games are. You basically fight as your Pokémon of choice within an assortment of 3D arenas by unleashing a fury of different attacks while summoning the odd support character and using charged moves. It's all very similar to the recent Naruto fighters although the combat here does a good job of forging its own identity. For starters, there are two phases of combat. Field phase grants you and your opponent free range of the arena while duel phase implements a more intimate 2D dynamic. Additionally, there's an "attack triangle" to keep in mind as counter attacks beat normal attacks, normal attacks beat grab attacks, and grab attacks beat counter attacks. The controls are very intuitive and when you incorporate these advanced rules, it results in a solid gameplay formula that's a blast to play.
List of characters in Pokkén Tournament DX
- Darkrai *
- Pikachu Libre
- Scizor *
- Croagunk *
- Decidueye *
- Empoleon *
- Shadow Mewtwo
* new to Pokkén Tournament DX
One thing that Pokkén Tournament did well was offer a colourful world that's a joy to battle within. Thankfully, this DX version looks even better. Each arena is bursting with lively personality and the Pokémon themselves are very well animated as they quickly manoeuvre around and transition between their attacks. On top of this, the audio is great with impactful effects that add a layer of satisfaction to every blow and an arcade-style soundtrack. You'll also hear advice from an advisor named Nia throughout each battle. Thankfully, you can change the frequency of her comments so if she starts to get on your nerves then you can always turn her off.
Pokkén Tournament DX includes a wealth of modes to keep you occupied. If you're planning on playing solo then you can work through the extensive Ferrum League, challenge the computer in Single Battle, educate yourself in Practice, and attempt the Daily Challenge. Between fights, you can customize various options as well as Nia's and your own appearance in My Town. Once you're ready to face tougher competition, you can battle other players via Online Battle, Wireless Battle, or Local Battle. There are some nifty inclusions with multiplayer such as optional split-screen for local battles, quitting penalties in online battles, and a 3 vs. 3 Team Battle option.
The selection of battle stages is nothing to sneeze at either. You can fight within 20 different arenas and each has their own distinct personality such as one set in winter, a Halloween theme, and even one named Magikarp Festival with fish flopping all around. It's great to see this much variety in the environments although I still wish they affected the gameplay besides just being different sizes.
One major aspect of Pokkén Tournament DX that's still missing is a comprehensive story mode. I wish there was either a Tekken-style story mode for each playable character or some sort of adventure mode that you could progress through. Instead, the gameplay almost entirely consists of fight after fight. Of course, the combat is certainly enjoyable but it does start to wear a little thin after a while. As a result, Pokkén Tournament DX is best played in short sessions between other games because the fun only lasts for so long.
Finally, I should discuss the fact that if you already own Pokkén Tournament on Wii U, upgrading to this DX iteration on Switch might not be worth the asking price. Obviously, if you're a huge fan and want a more lively online community then it's a no-brainer but if you don't fit that description then there aren't very many incentives (besides a handful of extra characters) to warrant yet another purchase. That being said, if you don't own the Wii U version then this makes for a solid introduction to the world of Pokémon combat.
Although it doesn't improve much from the vanilla version, Pokkén Tournament DX is an enjoyable fighter that both Pokémon fans and fighting game fanatics will thoroughly appreciate. Let's just hope Pokkén Tournament 2 includes a story mode.
- + Solid fighting gameplay that can be a ton of fun both solo and multiplayer
- + Vibrant visuals and great audio
- + Decent selection of modes and arenas
- - Not much content added from the original Pokkén Tournament for Wii U
- - Could use a story or adventure mode
- - Gameplay gets repetitive after a while