Pokkén Tournament DX
Another great Wii U game makes the jump to the Switch this week as Pokken Tournament DX arrives with new features and an expanded roster. After some hands-on time with the re-release, it’s definitely worth the upgrade. Come inside for my full review!
Earlier this year, Mario Kart 8 made the jump from the Wii U onto the Nintendo Switch with all of the DLC intact and a couple minor tweaks. Considering the previous console has been all but dead for some time now (long before the Switch even released), it was a great way for fans to enjoy the game on their new device. Thankfully, Pokken Tournament is getting the same treatment.
Pokken came out late in the Wii U life cycle and gave console owners one of the last big reasons to dust off their Gamepads. It’s a great fighting game and, I mentioned upon my initial review, that had it come out earlier, could have been a system seller. As it was, it was a must-play game for those already with a Wii U and gave Pokemon fans an excellent fighting game with some decent depth to it.
Sadly, it’s late life-cycle release meant that it was left behind in terms of updates. While the arcade version of the game in Japan was receiving regular updates to improve the gameplay and added four new characters to the roster, Wii U players were stuck with the initial 16 fighters and no DLC to be seen.
For such a competent fighting game, it was frustrating to see, especially as it began to cause problems for the esports community; the two versions of the game were becoming much different. By this point Nintendo was putting just about all focus on the Switch, and just didn’t seem interested in updating Pokken Tournament on the Wii U despite its critical acclaim and success.
Now, with Pokken Tournament DX on the Switch, the game is getting a much deserved second chance with gamers. The basics of the game remain the same; you'll battle Pokemon throughout the Ferrum League (a new Pokemon area created for these games). The two fold battle system remains intact, as you'll switch between a free-roaming 3D fighter, to a 2D mode. Each mode has it's own unique attacks and combos you can unleash to pummel your opponents or even call in support Pokemon to provide defensive/offensive buffs.
The mechanics themselves remain deceptively simple and still one of my favorite aspects of the fighting game. It's a game that's easy to pick up and play, as you can button mash your way through matches if you need to, but if you take the time, there's a depth to the combat that's a lot of fun to master. Regardless of your skill level, the game makes it easy to feel like a badass throughout every match you play (check out my full review of the Wii U version to delve more into these aspects).
Learning the moves is easier in DX than ever before, as one of the new features added in this version is the "Replay" mode. In this, you'll be able to rewatch matches (even controlling the camera to move around), and have the option to see the button inputs being hit as moves happen. If you're button mashing and pull off something really cool, you'll be able to go back and learn exactly how you did it! While I enjoy fighting games, I'm the first to admit I'm pretty terrible at them. As such, this feature, which feels a little more intuitive than the 'training' section, is a really sweet addition.
Other new things added to Pokken Tournament DX includes the addition of the four extra characters in the arcade version, plus Decidueye (from Sun and Moon) exclusively for the Switch version. This brings the roster up to 21, along with a pair of new support Pokemon, Littena and Popplio (also from Sun and Moon). The expanded fighters brings a big breath of fresh air to the game, making the new 3-on-3 battles a lot of fun to play around with.
This mode lets you pick three of your favorite pocket monsters to battle another group of three. It plays out like a survival mode, as health bars remain locked in place throughout the entire match. It's a neat way to test your mettle against other players (or just the computer for extra experience points) in a setting that feels more akin to traditional Pokemon battling, while retaining the intensity of the Pokken brawls.
Online has been given some upgraded tweaks as well, and generally speaking, everything about Pokken Tournament DX feels more refined and polished. The new stuff blends in effortless with the groundwork that's been laid out before, and the power boost makes every battle look absolutely gorgeous. While I powered through the game and its story mode already on the the Wii U, I had no qualms going through it again and still had just as much fun.
If you never played the game before, the Switch version is the perfect time to jump in with a more active community and the potential for more regular updates. For gamers who played it on the Wii U, the DX version offers up enough extra features to justify picking it up once more.