Joseph Harper plays Pokken Tournament, the definitive Pokémon title for gamers who prefer dog fights to collecting stamps.
For me, the best part about a Pokemon game is always catching lots of gorgeous baby Pokemon, giving them funny names, and falling deeply in love with them. Apparently though there is a subset of Pokemon fans who just want to get the ugliest, massivest, Pokemon possible and revel in making them beat the snot out of each other. Enter Pokken Tournament.
It’s Pokken. It’s Pokemon combined with Tekken. I like Horseas and I like Eddie Gordo handstand kicks so this game should be ideal. I started playing and very quickly realised I’d been bashing away for about two hours, so that’s a good sign. The real game nut here is that PT combines two fighting game styles. You start in “Field Mode” which allows your Pokemon to move around a 3D space. It’s like a Dragon Ball Z fighter if you’ve ever played one of those. Certain moves transform the battle into “Duel Mode”, a more traditional, Tekken-esque 2D fighting system. Moving between the modes gives you different move sets, and both have pros and cons. In Field Mode you can send ranged Poke-mehameha attacks. In Duel Mode you do more damage and can really put the hurt on. There is also a “Synergy Meter” which is your typical super-charge type mechanic that you can use to smash the crap out of your enemy and grow a weird colourful aura.
I’m sure the fighting is pretty complicated, but for my money, just button mashing was very effective. My Lucario was an absolute beast almost immediately, and switching between modes was pretty instinctive. The attack graphics don’t have much of a Pokemon feel. The vibe of the whole thing is more ‘Yoshimitsu’ than ‘Johto Journeys’. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun to plough a hideous chandelier creature into the ground.
The main bad part of the game is the roster. It’s horribly small. There are 16 playable Pokemon. Two of them are Mewtwo and one of them is just Pikachu in a potentially culturally insensitive lycra luchador suit. That just seems lame given there are 150 or more to see. Also most of the chosen few are big boofer types. Pikachu is a sweetie, and my girlfriend thinks Suicune is a goddess with beautiful hair, but the selection of cutie-pies is dismal. Maybe this is for the best though, because the fighting action is pretty brutal, and of course nobody cares about Machamp getting mashed up (because he’s a freak).
It’s not a total baby-free zone. There are cameos from a handful of cuties who act as “Supports”. You can charge up a meter and unleash them on your opponent for some double team action.
It’s fun though. It’s definitely fun, fast-paced action and if they add some more heroes to the roster, I can easily see Pokken Tournament being an extremely mint multiplayer experience for Pokemon fans and sadistic testosterone goombas alike.
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