Pokémon fans, rejoice! The fighting game that all of us have been waiting for has arrived. Featuring elements from Tekken, Street Fighter and several other stalwarts from the fighting genre, Pokémon Tournament for Wii U balances complex fighting game mechanics with the cute anime style that millions around the world have grown up with. In addition, the game draws from other anime-based games such as Naruto and Dragonball to create an interesting environment where your favorite Pokémon battle each other to the death.
The game switches between traditional 2-D plane combat and a 3-D perspective where you can dodge and reposition your characters on the battlefield. The game calls these two phases Duel Phase and Field Phase respectively. If you circle around your opponents and maneuver yourself into a favorable position to land some meaty blows in Field phase, the game activates Duel Phase, which allows you to string together combos and rack up the damage. Finishing a Duel Phase combo sends you back to Field Phase, where you can continue the positioning and evasion battle. This system lends a lot of complexity on top of the traditional fighting game style, making it fun for newcomers and experienced gamers alike.
Which is packed with old and new fan-favorites from the Pokémon stable. Although it would be impossible to accommodate the hundreds of Pokémon that exist, the 16 characters that make it into the game will make most gamers happy. Most of these characters have been around for decades, and the game does a fantastic job of displaying their unique personalities and fighting styles. When you see Gengar using a combination of feints and dodges to set up his attacks, or Machamp stalking his foes until he can get into melee range, it all makes sense.
Are perfect for the Pokémon universe. There are current-generation elements such as advanced lighting and sprite effects, but they’re complemented by an art style that will be immediately familiar to fans of the series. The on-screen action is backed up by a bombastic soundtrack that mixes classic tunes with some modern compositions. Bandai Namco has ensured that Pokémon Tournament features the same high-quality music that has been a hallmark of the franchise.
Pokémon Tournament has a deep and complex combat system. However, this complexity sometimes gets in the way. The game expects you to juggle a lot of different mechanics simultaneously, and it can be a tough ask. The tutorial mode will give you a primer on the different concepts that you, as an elite Pokémon fighter, will be expected to keep in mind. Some of these concepts, such as wall combos, guard breaks and cancels might be familiar to fighting game veterans. But when you add things like phase shifts, Synergy Gauges and Support Gauges to the mix, it can be a little too much to swallow.
Luckily, the developers are aware of how complex the game might be for beginners. As a result, the single player campaign will make sure you have plenty of time to test out and practice all of the different things you’ll need for high level battles. You can challenge several AI Pokémon trainers to matches which grant you access to other, more skilful combat leagues. By gradually increasing the difficulty level, Pokémon Tournament ensures that by the time you get to the big leagues, you’ll at least have a working understanding of the different game mechanics. The campaign also culminates with an epic boss fight, which will be a nice surprise for gamers. If you’re a fighting game enthusiast, you should expect to put in several hours into the game before you get comfortable with everything that’s happening. Even after you’ve risen through the ranks of the single-player campaign, you can sometimes find yourself overwhelmed with the number of options you have in a match.
Fighting games live and die by the strength of their multiplayer combat. Here too, Pokémon Tournament offers a largely lag-free experience with quick matchmaking. As the number of players increase, you’ll have to wait even less to find a trainer to fight against. There are two multiplayer modes currently available – friendly and ranked. Both of these modes are fun to play and don’t make you wait too long for an opponent. Cough* STREET FIGHTER V* Cough!
Overall, Pokémon Tournament is a solid fighting game. It blends elements from several different games and creates its own unique mix of Pokémon fighting madness. The complexity might be off-putting at first, but eventually, you’ll grow to appreciate the depth of the combat system and the multitude of strategic options you have in a fight. If you’re completely new to fighting games, you might find the going rough at first. But if you stick with it, you too can join the ranks of the Pokémon trainer elite.