Pokken Tournament DX lands on the Switch
Pokken Tournament was released on the Wii U last year and now a new version of the game entitled Pokken Tournament DX is making its way over to the Nintendo Switch. This game brings together the world of Pokémon with fighting gameplay similar to Bandai Namco’s Naruto series. Pokken Tournament DX adds in some extra content that is not included in the Wii U version, along with some minor graphical upgrades.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Bandai Namco Entertainment, Inc.
Genre: Fighting, Action
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
Progress through the story in the Ferrum League
While Pokken Tournament DX is primarily a gameplay driven fighting game, there is a narrative for the single-player mode called Ferrum League. The single-player story mode pretty much acts as a giant tournament divided into subcategory leagues.
During your time in the tournament, you begin to hear rumours of a mysterious black Pokémon and their trainer. One day during the Green League tournament, the rumoured pair appear. The story progresses slowly over the course of the different tournament leagues, as you start to learn and unravel the mysteries of this pair of Pokémon and their trainer.
Easy to pickup gameplay with a deep and rich combo system
As mentioned, Pokken Tournament DX plays very similar to Bandai Namco’s Naruto series of fighting games. Pokken Tournament DX has two types of gameplay that the game transitions in between during a match. When you start a battle, you’re thrown into a gameplay type called Field Phase.
This gives you a wider field of view that makes it very similar to Naruto games. In this mode, you can shoot wide projectiles at each other as you try to get the lead on your opponent. Ultimately, it’s a game of smart positioning and attacking.
Once you land a strong hit on your opponent, the game transitions into the second type of gameplay called Duel Phase. You get a side view of the battle and this mode is more inline with what you would see in many traditional 2D fighting games. These two phases add in a level of strategy in the game where you have to be mindful of your own and your opponent’s attacks. When you get hit or land a hit there is a possibility you might experience a gameplay change when phase shift happens.
Fast and fierce combat
As far as combat is concerned, you can mix and match between normal, grab, and counter attacks. You have a Synergy gauge that builds up during battle, which acts like a special meter. Once it is full, you can activate Synergy for a buff activation that lets you use a special move called Synergy burst.
Pokken Tournament DX has combat that appeals to both casual and technical players. The pickup and play elements are great for casual players, while the vast number of combos you can create with the moves at your disposal give the game more depth that technical players will love.
The game’s practice mode offers a pretty robust tutorial, which gives new players the tools and lessons they need to become more technically inclined fighters.
Five new characters join the battle for a total of 21 different Pokémon
Jumping into battle you will be able to choose from 21 different Pokémon—that’s five more available than what was offered in the Wi U version of the game. Darkrai, Empoleon, Scizor, and Croagunk were previously only available in the arcade version, while Decidueye is a brand new character. These new characters do a great job in fleshing out the roster of characters at your disposal.
All the different types of Pokémon have their advantages and weaknesses—this is where support Pokémon come into play. Support Pokémon come in pairs and offer a buff of some type along with a charge time. Additionally, Pokken Tournament DX features a new pair of support Pokémon, Litten and Poppilo.
Exciting new gameplay modes
Let’s look at the different game modes that are available, as Pokken Tournament DX adds a few new modes. As mentioned, the single-player Ferrum League acts as a story mode for the game. You compete against enemy AI in three different types of battles.
Basic Battle is a simple battle, one on one, with no extra features. While the Extra Battle, adds in power-ups and traps in the forms of collectable orbs that will appear randomly on the map. If you pick one up, it will either give you a buff or a nerf. Lastly, there is a new Team Battle mode that is a 3v3 mode where each player chooses three Pokémon to fight with; The trainer with the last remaining Pokémon wins.
I really enjoyed playing Team Battle and found myself gravitating towards this mode when I wasn’t playing the story mode, as it feels more inline with traditional Pokémon battles.
One of the new game modes in Pokken Tournament DX is the daily challenge mode. This mode offers daily challenges such as beating an opponent with a specific group of Pokémon. If you are successful at the challenge, you will be rewarded with some customizable items for your Pokémon Trainer.
My Town allows you to customize your Pokémon Trainer with the money that you earn from battles. You can purchase new items to dress up and customize your Pokémon Trainer. You can even change the greets you say in battles and titles that appear in online matches. If you have any amiibo, you can scan them five times a day to unlock new items and titles.
Fast fluid action with fast bumpin’ battle music
The graphics in Pokken Tournament DX have gotten a slight upgrade from the Wii U version. The game runs at a native 720p with 60fps allowing for fast and fluid fighting action. On top of the resolution and frame-rate improvements, there is some better texture filtering that displays slightly cleaner looking textures on stage elements.
Pokken Tournament DX on the Switch is definitely a better looking game than last year’s Wii U version. Though, the stages in which you fight in could use some sprucing up as they look low res compared to the characters. This is most noticeable during your Pokémon’s victory pose. All in all, I would say that the graphical difference between the two games is not as big as we saw with Mario Kart 8 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Pokken Tournament DX is a great sounding game with fast bumpin’ battle music, along with an extensive dialogue library for the characters in the story mode. During battles Pokémon’s attacks and moves have a strong base to them that make them feel powerful.
Seamless Multiplayer Online action
The online mode has sees a few refinements. Aside from the usual online matches, you can now choose to play in a group of friends matches only rather than just random match making. Likewise, there is a new matchmaking mode for ranked matches that give both casual and hardcore players something new to do online.
I’m happy to say that playing online I never saw one bit of lag, nor did I ever get randomly disconnected. All the battles felt as if I was playing against opponents who were sitting right next to me on the couch.
Wireless Battle is a new game mode specifically for the Switch and it’s the local wireless multiplayer mode that goes along with local battle mode. Pokken Tournament DX allows you to play multiplayer on one console with a single joy con, so you always have a second controller ready to go. More over, you can now play local multiplayer in either split-screen or single view mode.
Pokken Tournament DX is a great fighting game and is the definitive version of the game. With a new 3v3 mode, five new Pokémon, a new pair of support Pokémon, and an expanded online mode, it improves on the original in key areas that matter.
In my opinion, Bandai Namco did a great job with Pokken Tournament DX in making it one of the most well-executed fighting games that everyone can enjoy. The amount of depth and complexity that is available to master is there for those looking for it. Or, if you are a casual player its easy to pickup and play with your friends.
+ Five new characters to play as
+ Easy to pickup gameplay
+ Deep rich combo system
+ 60 frames-per-second 3D graphics
+ Multitude of new gameplay modes to keep you busy
– Graphics during battle can be at times a little underwhelming
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5
Overall Rating 4.25/5 (85%)