Pokken Tounament DX Review: Slightly More Of A Good Thing

Pokken Tournament DX

The popularity of the Nintendo Switch has given new life to several titles than languished on the Wii U. The newest of those is Pokken Tournament. The Pokemon tournament fighter has seen an update and remaster on Nintendo's new console in the form of Pokken Tournament DX and while the new version of the game probably isn't new enough to woo those who played it the first time around, the title is a surprisingly in-depth fighter for Switch owners who missed the original game and are looking for a new fighting game experience.

For the most part, Pokken Tournament DX is the same game as its Wii U counterpart. Select one of a variety of Pokemon characters and take them into battle, either via single player leagues or online to take on other real-life players. The new version of the game on the Switch adds a handful of new characters, new team-based battles, a daily challenge mode, and local play made possible by the Switch's portable capabilities. In addition, characters that were unlockable in the previous version are available from the start here.

The basic gameplay remains the same. Pick a Pokemon, battle them in single player through Pokemon leagues where you look to raise your rank and gain experience points to improve your overall strength and abilities. There's a basic story in the single-player mode, but nothing like more modern fighters like Injustice 2. Essentially, you'll just be beating up Pokemon after Pokemon again and again. The major point of differentiation in the conbat is the ability for certain attacks to change the "phase" of the fight, which means that it switches between being a 3D and a 2D fight mid-battle, and then back again. It's an interesting gimmick and may help the game appeal to fans who prefer one style of brawler over the other, as Pokken Tournament DX is both.

This change between fighting styles also means that fighting strategies can change in the middle of the fight, which makes the combat a bit more complex than you might expect. Button mashing will get the job done early on, but as you progress, the game requires you to really figure out the nuances of the control.

In addition to one-on-one battles, you can also play three vs. three in Pokken Tournament DX. The added game mode, which can be played online as well, is really just an enhanced version of the one-on-one battles, as rounds end when a Pokemon is defeated, rather than continuing in a Marvel vs. Capcom sort of way. Still, for fans of traditional Pokemon games, multi-monster battles certainly make sense.

Also new to Pokken Tournament DX is a daily challenge mode. This mode basically just gives you a new predesigned battle to win each day. You get some experience and in-game currency for succeeding, but beyond that, there's little use for it. It will likely give you exposure to Pokemon you don't usually play, so perhaps you'll discover a character you love by accident. Don't let the name of the mode fool you, battles are not particularly challenging.

Online battles come in the "ranked" or "friendly" variety. I found no significant issues with the online modes, everything seemed to run smoothly.

One additional added feature of the Switch version of Pokken Tournament is split screen multiplayer. Formerly, the Wii U version of the game forced one player to use the gamepad, but now two players can play on the same TV screen and since only one Joy-Con is needed and the Switch is portable, two players can play against each other anywhere. Of course, playing split-screen on the Switch's built in screen makes each player's view fairly small. Also, split screen does have a noticable impact on frame rate.

The success of Ultra Street Fighter II on the Switch would seem to indicate that there's an audience for fighting games on the Switch and since most probably haven't given Pokken Tournament a try, there's every reason to do so now.

This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the title provided by the publisher.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.