Pokkén Tournament was a game that perhaps never had a proper chance to shine. After its debut in Japanese arcades, the fighter saw a console release on a platform that was in the autumn of its life, and which hadn’t been all that impressive (in terms of sales) to begin with. It was no wonder, then, that Pokkén Tournament fizzled out rather quickly. But now, with a Switch release looming on the horizon which promises all previous content and more, Nintendo and Bandai Namco are giving the game a second chance.
Those of you that have played Pokkén Tournament before will no doubt know what to expect from Pokkén Tournament DX, as the game seems largely unchanged from its Wii U predecessor. You select from a large and diverse array of fighters — which includes all those previously exclusive to the arcade as well as a newcomer, Decidueye — and then you pick a pair of support Pokémon, which have also seen some new additions. From here, you duke it out with an opponent in a 3D fighting arena, while the camera occasionally "phase shifts" the game into a 2D fighter.
Gameplay is fast paced and calls to mind aspects of Super Smash Bros.; it’s easy to pick up and entertaining to watch, yet there’s a surprisingly high skill ceiling for those that are talented enough to chain together moves in creative ways. Each Pokémon feels quite distinct from the next, and we found ourselves picking new Pokémon each round just to see the kind of colourful and exciting fireworks that would inevitably result from their attacks. Make no mistake, the game looks just as gorgeous as one would expect, though it’s tough to tell how much of a visual improvement it has over the Wii U version in a crowded E3 space.
And really, that seems to be the general impression that our team got from our time with it. Much alike to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there’s not a whole lot here that’s “new”. Aside from the arcade exclusive fighters, one new fighter, a few support Pokémon, and a couple of extra game modes — like 3v3 Team Battles — this is pretty much the same Pokkén Tournament that you played on your Wii U. Most of the content being offered is the same that existed previously, and it’s hard to say whether there’s any notable performance or visual improvements, though it is slick in action.
Even so, that’s no reason to simply brush this one off. Although it does appear to largely be the same game that could be played in arcades or on a Wii U, it now has unified all that content, added some extra Pokémon and game modes on top, and — most importantly — made it all completely playable in a portable format, including local multiplayer.
We came away from Pokkén Tournament DX feeling quite pleased with the experience. Those who didn’t pick the game up the first time around now have more reason than ever to do so, because Pokkén Tournament has never been this good. With that being said, those who played it before may have to ask whether the new content justifies paying for the game once more. Either way, Pokkén Tournament DX is shaping up to be a quality game, and it will certainly benefit from this new lease of life.