Wii U Review: Pokken Tournament

Gotta fight ’em all!

Pokken Tournament is a case of Tekken meets Pokemon, from Bandai Namco. I was surprised to see this even happen, especially so late in the Wii U’s lifespan. Who ever would have thought of pitting two Pokemon against each other in Tekken-style combat? Can’t say it ever occurred to me before this.
The roster includes the most famous Pokemon such as Pikachu, Charizard, Machamp, Gengar, Lucario and others such as Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo. In fact, if you pick up the retail version of Pokken Tournament then you will get a Shadow Mewtwo Amiibo card. It’s a nice list of fighters, although I wonder if more will land in the future via DLC like with Smash Bros? Only Nintendo and Bandai Namco know for now, I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Combat handles like your standard Tekken title, except certain attacks can flip the arena perspective from an open battlefield to the standard 2D fighting point of view. You can also choose certain Pokemon as assists to use in battle once they are fully charged up, they can offer boosts or even inflict damage to your rival. A Synergy Meter also fill up upon landing a number of attacks to unleash a powerful burst attack, even a potential Mega Evolution.
There is a career mode where you fight your way up the ranks in certain tournaments, but you can do so with only one Pokemon. Each fight nets you experience that when you level up, allows you to improve either attack, defence or the refresh rates for your support Pokemon and Synergy Meter. It’s a nice RPG element that I didn’t quite expect to see and one that definitely fits well. It will take a while to master combat, the tutorials do a nice job making you learn the basics…but it will take some time to get to grips with the combos.

Besides the career mode, there are standard AI fights, local play and online fights too. Having played all the modes, I can say that online is potentially the best. AI can be predictable, while human opponents can be anything but. I got slaughtered during most battles, but those who are legends at fighting games will feel right at home.

My only issue is that the game modes are a little bare, it would have been nice to see them mix things up or add another mode, hell even a few mini-games would have been welcome. Visually, Pokken Tournament looks stunning. All the Pokemon are animated really well and the game runs smoothly throughout, while the arenas are also well detailed.

The Verdict

Pokken Tournament sounds like a game that on paper, wouldn’t work. But it does, it’s the perfect blend of Pokemon and Tekken and one that will please fans of either franchise. Bandai Namco have created a great fighter here, even if it is somewhat simplistic at times.

Score: 8.5