September 20, 2017

Pokken Tournament DX - Review

When the Switch was announced, people almost demanded that Nintendo re-release some of their Wii U titles on it and then we got Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and it proved that Nintendo were listening. The next Wii U title to make the jump is Pokken Tournament DX and does this make them two for two?

If you are not aware of what Pokken is, well it is a fighting game that swaps between 2d and 3d styles, or phases as they say, with Field Phase letting you play it a more Tekken type of space and the Dual Phase, taking you to a more traditional 2d fighting space. The combination of multiple phases keeps the game interesting as you need to constantly adjust to the game swapping between them, based on how much damage you dish out, or receive. Perhaps the strangest part of this version of the game, is that it comes only 18 months after the Wii U’s release, so you might be asking yourself, is this something that I need to jump back into?

The game still offers up the same content as it did in the original release, the Ferrum League, which is all about climbing the ranks, to become the number one Trainer and Pokémon duo. Local and Online both offer up similar modes, with the different being how they are played, with online being, well online and local working ok, with each person holding a Joy-Con each, if that is all you have. Each of the modes will draw in players of varying types, but everyone will need to start off in the Practice space, because there is a lot to learn in Pokken Tournament. There are a few additions to the modes on offer, such as the daily challenge fights rewarding players with skill points and team battle, in addition only a handful of new Pokémon to fight with are included also.

The bulk of your time will be spent within the Ferrum league itself, but you can take time out to do solo matches or practice your skills in the dojo, something you may need to do anyway. The issue the game has and it something from the original release, is that once you do a single match in any league you enter and then leave, you must repeat that match again. On the Wii U release, this was frustrating because, if you got to one match away from winning and then had to shut it off, you had to start over, Switch has a slight advantage here in that you can place the system into sleep mode, to save your progress, but you are still required to restart the league, if you should quit out for any reason.

Of course, the big draw here is going to the Pokémon and players will enjoy the roster, not only do the 16 Wii U characters return, but we also now get an extra 5 characters, 4 of which come from the original arcade release and one new to the series. If you have played through the original release with one character, then choosing a contrasting character is going to be your best bet for a fresh feeling. This time, I went with Pikachu Libre, who is diametrically as opposite that you can get to Charizard and as such I had to adjust my fighting style, or what I consider to be my style. Having a much smaller and much faster character, required me to adjust my style, I could no longer just go charging in and attempt to brute force my way through a match.

Speaking of matches, from the get go all the support Pokemon are included, with the addition of Litten and Poppilo, meaning you no longer need to get used to one support set, only to question if using a recently unlocked would be better for you. The games still playout the same though, so once you have begun a match, you only have access to that pair, until the match is over. Taking the game online, while a challenge until the games release, provided relatively lag free issues, I did have the occasional lag spike, but that could be my internet. Outside of that, everything ran ok, while it will be a few more days until I can see how they pan out in the real world, so far, its ok.

Now we come to the section that is the biggest let down in the game the presentation, and by letdown, I mean nothing has been changed at all, since its Wii U release. The game still suffers from an abundance of menus, which normally would not be a terrible thing, however each and every screen you go to, has that voice. The lady narrator is back and she is annoying as ever and every time that I hear that voice, I want to rage, sure some people are turning the voice off, but that just proves its bad design choices. Occasionally the people you battle will speak, with actual words, but mostly it will be through a text box, which results in the feeling that its half done. Music wise, the tracks are nothing special, but they are nice to listen to and with the number of tutorials that you need to go through at the beginning, that is a good thing.

The package sadly has not received any visual attention, while the menus themselves look fine, all the visual issues from the Wii U release have come across as well and sadly they look worse. As I played with Charizard in the original release, I got to see his winning and losing animations frequently and over time, the blemishes became more apparent, with the Switch release, I had hoped that they would be improved upon. What I got was the same visuals and by that, I mean the exact same, the same rendering and lighting producing the same rough edges. Swapping to Pikachu Libre also highlight another fault, the visuals are cheap, close-ups of Pikachu show that his mouth and eyes look more like applied stickers. Combining that with the cardboard cutouts of the characters, it just highlights the fact that this is a port and given that this is supposed to be the deluxe version of the game, that is not good enough.

Pokken Tournament is a solid fighting game, something that was evident with the games original release, however the ‘deluxe’ version of the game does nothing to earn that title. Adding a few new fighters is nice, but it sucks that most are already included in the arcade release and given the number of available Pokemon, adding only a few more is again wasting the source material.

Thanks to Nintendo Australia for supplying the game for review

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