Finally - watching Pokemon actually FIGHT
PokkÉn Tournament delivers something that's been out of reach of Pokémon fans for 20 years - watching Pokémon actually fight. Fights in Pokémon have always more or less been played out in the imagination. Clashes between the various creatures of the Pokémon universe have generally been played out in one's imagination, with the on-screen action reduced to a cursory wobble of the Pokémon or a prompt in a dialogue box.
Pokkén Tournament offers something more substantial than just the impression of a fight. Now, pint sized Pikachus can punt a Charizard three times its size in the stomach, wrap its stubby arms around the dragon's thick neck, launch into the air, and fling it to the ground.
Unlike most fighting games, which feature long and hard-to-memorise strings of input commands, Pokkén Tournament is a fighting game that anyone can enjoy. Every single move in the game can be performed with only two buttons, usually a combination of an attack and a directional input.
Despite this streamlined approach, however, the game doesn't feel like it at first. There's a lot to keep track of, starting with the opening tutorial where you're bombarded with all kinds of weird phrases and rules. In addition to your health bar, you'll also need to watch a gauge that powers potent special attacks, and another that lets you summon helper pokemon to aid you in battle. The game also has a strange, shifting camera: at times it's a 3D, free-roaming arena, but throughout the battle things will switch to a more traditional Street Fighter-style 2D camera angle.
Pokkén Tournament is very different to a title like, say, Street Fighter in that it is incredibly simplified and obviously trying to cater to a younger, more casual audience, but it is perhaps a little too on the easy side. It will take a long, long time before you work your way far enough up the leagues to meet any sort of challenging player in single-player mode, so prepare yourself for a great deal of boring gameplay.
Of course, single-player is only one small part of a fighting game. The real fun comes from playing against others, and Pokken doesn't disappoint in that regard
Whether Pokkén Tournament has the staying power of some of the more popular fighting games is debatable. But, maybe the point of Pokkén Tournament is to deliver something new to the hordes of Pokémon fans around the globe. It certainly has, and is a recommendation for any Wii U owner to pick up.