“I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”
―Pokémon the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back!
“The following is a guest post by The Valiant Vision Mage.”
Some people never picked up the original title (Pokkén Tournament) in the Wii U era, while others are wondering whether picking up the Nintendo Switch version is worth the double-dip. For the former, I’d recommend it if you enjoy Pokémon. For the latter, if you’re not at least 85% (or so) satisfied with the original, but would like to see the game with some improvements, this should be right up your alley.
Pokkén Tournament DX, while not a Pokémon MMO, is that second game that Pokémon fans had been anticipating for a long time: a real-time Pokémon Fighter. With mostly popular characters from every generation of Pokémon so far, this should be a hit among most fans of the series. All playable characters are shown above.
Being a 2D AND 3D fighter, this game has a lot of depth to it. Its mechanic that shifts between 2D and 3D phases upon a successful grab or special combo also helps to prevent “infinites,” or combos that are impossible to get out of. It does so by changing each players moveset to fit the new phase more appropriately along with sending the player being hit further away. In fact, only one infinite has been found so far to my knowledge, and that was patched-out pretty quickly in the Wii U version. There are still none to be seen in the Nintendo Switch version.
A new element that arrives on the scene in the original Wii U game is Synergy. Synergy can be collected or earned in battle and used to upgrade your form and use an “ultimate” attack. An “ultimate,” speaking in terms of a general fighting game, is like a super-powered move that can only be used on occasion. In Pokkén Tournament DX, “Synergy Burst” is a form-change executed by pressing L and R while having a full Synergy Gauge simultaneously, and pressing those buttons again once per form-change uses your “Synergy Burst Attack.” If the attack hits, a considerably powered move is automatically activated.
There’s at least some trivia inside the game as well. For example, did you know that Machamp can punch 1000 times per second according to a Pokédex entry? While that’s not entirely true in this game, his Synergy Burst Attack deals a 1000-hit combo. The next bit, while not trivia of any Pokémon, and is likely a coincidence, is funny nonetheless when thought about in detail. This game’s exclusive form of the Pokémon Mewtwo, being Shadow Mewtwo, has a Synergy Burst Attack that looks like something straight out of an anime and deals a 9999-hit combo. That’s “over 9000” if you didn’t get the joke.
Even some of the simpler things of Pokémon are in this game as well, along with many elements from Tekken. Every Pokémon has at least one move taken straight from the Tekken series (such as Pikachu having an uppercut-like move that Tekken’s Angel has), and many attacks are actual Pokémon moves (such as Charizard’s Fire-Punch or Mewtwo’s Hyper Beam). Even stat changes and status effects are implemented in a sense, in the form of buffs and de-buffs (power-ups and… power-downs?) through being hit by a move or Support Pokémon, or using a move or Support Pokémon. Support Pokémon will be explained in the “Gameplay” section of the 8-Bit review.
What’s so great about the upgrade from Pokkén Tournament though, besides it being on the Nintendo Switch? This game has everything that matters in multiplayer unlocked from the start, five characters that weren’t in the Wii U version, a new support set, much better multiplayer, new game modes, a replay feature for multiplayer, and a few other minor things. It also will likely have support through updates continued, such as balance-patches.
Now how good is each aspect of the game?
The 8-Bit Review
I always thought Lucario (on the right) had colored skin, with fur around the middle of his body, but when I got a closer look, I could see that it’s all fur.
The Pokémon (especially the playable fighters) look far better than ever before. Finally having high-definition textures allows one to see what material the exterior of a Pokémon is composed of. Light also reflects off of the main objects/entities in the game appropriately. Scizor is a steel-type, and his armor shines.
The GUI of the game is great also. It simulates what one would see if this was being broadcasted as an eSport.
The only bad thing about the graphics is the characters in the background. They seem almost like 2-dimensional objects with rotating textures sometimes. With this one exception, the game has excellent graphics!
Much of the music in this game is memorable, from “Tellur Town” to “Dragon’s Nest” to the theme of “Synergy Burst”.
The sound-effects are done well also. Seemingly every move has an appropriate sound-effect.
The only bad audio-related aspect is the player’s advisor, Nia, who speaks far too often about obvious or useless things unless you change the settings. Seeing as she can be turned off however, one could then say there’s nothing wrong with the audio.
A game of Pokkén Tournament DX (also known as a Ferrum Battle, as it takes place in the Ferrum region) starts with fighter selection (the Pokémon one fights as), Support selection (the Pokémon that can be called in for a bit of help, either by attacking, setting a trap for the opponent, or enhancing the player when the Support gauge is full), Cheer Skill Selection (what bonus one gets between rounds, such as Synergy Gauge up or Support Gauge to maximum), and finally Stage selection (where both players fight).
As the battle starts, the Pokémon make their entry and the player selects the support Pokémon they want that round from their support set. The Field Phase (or time in a certain perspective) for a 3D battle begins. If a player takes enough hits, is hit by a long enough combo, or is hit with certain moves (such as a grab), the phase changes. The other phase is Duel Phase, from a 2D perspective, and can be shifted similarly back to 3D. In the shift from 3D to 2D, if the Pokémon who caused the shift has taken damage recently enough, they may recover some upon the shift. When a Pokémon is knocked out or time runs out, the round is over. Once a player wins two rounds with their Pokémon, they win the game.
Here’s a gameplay demonstration:
And that’s just the core-gameplay, there are two other modes that can be played along with the Ferrum League and Daily Challenge. These modes include Extra Battle, where there are buffs and de-buffs laid over the field at times, and Team battle, where each player picks three Pokémon, and each player’s Pokémon keep going one-at-a-time until all three of one player’s Pokémon are knocked-out.
The Ferrum League has 4 Leagues and is hiding a few secrets. It also has an achievement system on a per-league basis. The player’s in-game advisor explains how the Ferrum League works above.
My original go-to Pokémon was Pikachu Libre (Pikachu cosplaying as a luchador, a type of Mexican wrestler, found in this form in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire). Pikachu Libre was my favorite form of Pikachu from the games it was in. It had some wrestler style moves that changed the way this alternate Pikachu played almost completely. One of its moves, Double-Team, caused certain moves to phase through it and then it had the option to charge forward by pressing the button again.
In terms of pulling off one move, this game is somewhere- between the simplicity of the Super Smash Bros. series and most other fighting games. The player must choose a direction (relative to the direction the fighter is facing) and press an attack button or button-combination to unleash an attack. Going in-between phases gives the player mostly different moves to fit the environment of 2D or 3D, such as weak attacks becoming “ranged” attacks and strong attacks becoming “homing” attacks (attacks that automatically track the opponent) when shifting from 2D to 3D, but this also gives the game more depth and strategy.
Special combos are trickier to pull off, though. The direction you’re holding, the button you press, the time you press it, and sometimes how long you hold it down are all things that matter. The game feels like it’s forgiving in terms of input-speed, but this sometimes doesn’t help or may even hinder trying to input a button combination with precise timing, if the input-speed forgiveness is indeed a mechanic.
Something to remember, that is highly recommended but often skipped, is the tutorial section. It can teach the player every move of every character. While not every detail of every move, it at least it tells you all the moves the Pokémon can use.
While the Ferrum League starts out easy, it gets more and more difficult. The first league is almost a breeze, but as one goes on, one must push harder and harder to become better.
Pokkén Tournament only had three selectable difficulties, where Pokkén Tournament DX adds “Very Easy” and “Very Hard” as options. Unfortunately, there’s nothing in-between each two of these five options. The difference between each difficulty may be a bit too much.
An extra challenge can be to learn how to fight at an intermediate level as every character. Part of doing so may be taking part in the daily challenge, where one must win a certain number of matches with the Pokémon being chosen for them on any day the challenge is taken.
Multiplayer can be experienced in a few different fashions: Local Play, in which players can either share the first player’s perspective, or split-screen…
Wireless Play, where players can connect two systems and games together, each with their own perspective. Online Play, where one can play Ranked Battle, Friendly Battle where one can set a password and/or limit to friends only, and Group Battle, where one can create their own ranked group. And Event Mode, where a player can hold B, X, Down, and press L+R on the title screen and enter LAN mode.
The multiplayer in this game is fun, but player’s will either have to deal with sharing a perspective, splitting the screen, or having two systems. It’s exciting, just not convenient.
Has a 2D and 3D fighting game ever been developed and become this popular? Has Pokémon ever had an official fighting game? Of course there’s the Tekken series, of course there are 3D fighters, of course there are Pokémon games, but is this our first crossover of even two of the three of them?
My Personal Grade: 9/10
Personally, I LOVE Pokkén Tournament DX (except that none of my friends have it). It adds everything I felt was missing from the Wii U title, Pokkén Tournament, which I already liked quite a lot. With updates continuing (supposedly), I’m REALLY excited to get into another tournament sooner or later, as I had been only to a fairly small tournament before. Each tournament setup is in LAN mode, which is ideal for the player by giving them their own screen. I didn’t experience much there, but part of what I did experience was getting to be social with other Pokémon fans. I still have the Pokkén Pro Pad from the Wii U era, which is the only tournament-legal controller. But what I love most is that it uses my favorite franchise as its characters and theme, and even more, sharing the experience with friends.
And what Pokémon fan never wanted to battle their friends in real-time?
Aggregated Score: 8.5
The Valiant Vision Mage wants to be part of changing the future of gaming journalism. He enjoys more than anything the positive interactions with fellow gamers, and hopes to gain more interaction through blogging about his experiences with games. He puts the experience of a game higher than how it looks or sounds. So when it comes to talking about good experiences in gaming, you may run into the Valiant Vision Mage. Read more at lodestarvalor.wordpress.com.
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