Video Game Review: Pokken Tournament (Japan Arcade)

Look at this smug guy. He was a pushover in the anime with all the skirt chasing, but he knew the outcome of the video game match in Yellow Version...

Look at this smug guy. He was a pushover in the anime with all the skirt chasing, but he knew the outcome of the video game match in Yellow Version…

It’s no secret that after watching the Pokemon anime, kids around the world were wishing for a game that really simulated what we saw in the 90’s (Heck I wish I could have a game like that now!). People desperately wanted to know how exactly a Pikachu could beat an Onix. Because he was next to garbage in the Gameboy games when fighting Brock.

So when I heard that Bandai Namco Entertainment was in the works with Nintendo to make a fighting game, you can imagine my anticipation over a whole new way to play Pokemon. (We all know that if there was a Pokemon MMORRPG, that’d signify the end of the world. Nintendo is just sparing us the pain right now.)

So on my trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, I had to try Pokken Tournament out, because how could I not? So after running around through Tokyo like an otaku in a hobby shop, I went over to one of the many arcades to try the game out. While there was a bit of a language barrier, that didn’t stop this fan from getting on the game and button mashing my way to victory!

The game itself is pretty much like a hybrid of Smash Bros. and Tekken in terms of controls. You have a 3D arena you can run around in and the maps are decently sized too, giving players enough room to bait their opponents if need be. The controls are pretty basic too. You have a light combo button, a heavy attack, a special button that lets you use all their powers, a jump button, and a block button in order to withstand your enemy’s attacks. Like Tekken, the fighting mechanics are pretty smooth with plenty of options to take down your opponent with all kinds of strategies.

The characters, while not many, have quite a different range of skill sets and play styles to give players a lot of options for fighting. You’ve got speed types, heavy hitters, combo oriented and technical characters that all have their balances to keep some from being too overpowered. Like Smash Bros, any character is heavily player dependent, so while some appear to have more of an edge, with a little practice, anyone can get good with whoever they choose (With the exception of Gengar. That’s pure cheating all around…).

This guy is pure evil and he knows it!

This guy is pure evil and he knows it!

Players build up a gauge through their matches that can allow them to enter their character’s special stance. For some it’s a mega-evolution that was introduced with Generation VI’s era, while other Pokemon simply enter a more powerful mode with an aura. This also allows you to activate their ultimate attack that enters a cinematic if players are able to hit their opponents with it.

Pokken Tournament also features a support character function that allows you to pick a Pokemon from a list to use a single time per round to help you against your opponent. This can vary from a stun, to an extra hit that can allow you to chain more combos you couldn’t normally do without more time. These supports can easily turn around a match in your favor, so using them with caution is key!

I’ve never been the type to really care for stories in my fighting game and probably won’t ever, because who plays these for the story? So, having a language barrier didn’t really bother me, as I play a fighting game for one thing and one thing only- the action!

The graphics were pretty amazing for this title. Anyone can see that a lot of detail was put into the game, as even the hair textures for the furrier Pokemon are visible. I do enjoy nice graphics to compliment smooth gameplay!

Seeing the videos on YouTube for quite some time now, I came in having some decent expectations of the title. Unfortunately, while the game seemed very impressive, I didn’t find it as enjoyable as I hoped. The lack of a large roster really hurt the game’s performance for me, despite the wide array of styles. When it comes to fighting games, I like having options for playable characters. One of the other things that really bothered me was the fact that despite this game being an arcade title, players had to use a controller to play.

I honestly felt like an arcade joystick/button combo would be been better.

I honestly feel like an arcade joystick/button combo would be been a better choice.

I read a review that stated this title wasn’t generating a huge amount of buzz despite the initial hype, and seeing the machines generally unused while I was there proved to me that this was true. While the game is entertaining and has potential, I feel like it’ll definitely be better suited for it’s home console release later next year. Giving fans the ability to play this title at home, Nintendo can play this out like the latest installment for Smash Bros. and simply add more characters through DLC.

All in all, while the game wasn’t necessarily the highlight of my video game experience, I’m definitely glad I tried it out and would recommend it to anyone who is interested. I have a feeling that despite the arcade’s lack of popularity, the home console version of this game is going to be even better. Especially with the options to play with your friends.

Pokken Tournament debuted in Japan’s arcades July 16th and it’s scheduled to release for the home console March 18, 2016 for Japan, and Q2 on the Wii U.

Any questions or comments about the game? Please feel free to leave your thoughts below and thanks for reading!

Gameplay: 7 Graphics: 8 Story: N/A Characters: 5 Overall: 7