Few games have the same ecstatic fandom as Pokémon. The main series has consistently been excellent, working a formula that’s almost always enjoyable. As Wii U players know, Pokkén Tournament has nothing of the turn-based combat Pokémon is known for. Instead, the game focusses on a Tekken-style fighting system that’s unlike any other spin-off from the series.
What makes Pokkén Tournament slightly different to other fighting games — besides the new skins — is the gameplay. Matches start with players able to move around various 3D stages, freely walking around and throwing punches/spitting fireballs. When a powerful enough hit lands, the game adopts a classic 2D fighting-game playstyle, throwing punches side-on. Again, if there’s another powerful enough hit, the game reverts back (and so on and so fourth).
By changing up playstyle multiple times during a match, each one feels fresh. What’s perhaps slightly less impressive are the combos and controls, feeling less intuitive than other fighting games. Playing as Charizard, for instance, you can merely charge forward while breathing fire, which really doesn’t take much skill.
However, there’s a knack to really mastering the gameplay; sure, the first fights of the main tournament are easy, but soon enough they become a large enough challenge. Each Pokémon — you can choose between 21 — also has varied enough fighting styles
Being able to take Pokkén on the road, thanks to the Switch’s portable capabilities, really helps elevate the game. Dipping into fights and completing assigned Daily Challenges has become supremely easy and keeps players coming back for more.
For Switch players who enjoy fighting games, Pokkén is a must-buy. Meanwhile, for beginners, the game’s easy enough to pick up, but the repetitive nature of fighting games in general may with you down. Still, another solid-enough Switch purchase for those with Nintendo’s ever-expanding console.