Pokkén Tournament DX - Nintendo Switch Review

Switch_PokkenTournamentDX_box-Pokkén-Tournament-DX-Capture-300x479 Pokkén Tournament DX - Nintendo Switch Review

The real Pokémon fighting game! Take three...

Game Info:

  • System: Nintendo Switch
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Developer: The Pokémon Company, Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • Release Date: September 22, 2017

Who it Caters to

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A little over two years ago, thousands of Pokémon fans in Japan ran to arcades to finally play a “serious” action-packed Pokémon fighting game called Pokkén. At last, a game where Pokemon actually hit each other! But hey, what about the people that don’t live in Japan? Well, sadly most of us had to wait almost a year to play Pokkén for Wii U. Now, the new and improved Pokkén Tournament DX was released for the Nintendo Switch!

So, is it any different? Yes and no. For those who could play the arcade version, the only good news is that you can finally sit down and play on your couch or bed. For the ones that played it on Wii U, it’s most certainly a lot more things to take in, as it has significant improvements to some major issues present in the Wii U version. What? Then why not just make a simple DLC for the Wii U version? Nah, it’s not that simple, why? Well, let us explain in the next section!

What to Expect

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First thing’s first! DX looks absolutely beautiful! The Wii U could never run graphics as beautiful and smooth as the ones Nintendo Switch can, of course; it’s all because naturally, the new console is more powerful and can run it as smoothly as the arcade version at 60ps, compared to the 30fps the Wii U could handle.

It’s not just beautiful on the outside, it’s beautiful on the inside too! Compared to the Wii U version, Pokkén DX includes all the characters the arcade version had, along with the Wii U ones and even a new character, the final evolution of our winged starter pokémon from Sun and Moon, Decidueye! And turn that frown upside down because yeah, the other starters Litten and Popplio also make an appearance as assist pokémon! (Just kidding 🙁 we’re still slightly disappointed, why not Incineroar, though?)

Pokkén Tournament DX - Launch Trailer (Nintendo Switch)


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The first thing you’ll notice is the character customization, for which we had some mixed feelings about because of the poor variation of facial expressions and customizable options available for our avatars, as well as your character being 2D instead of 3D like the rest of the game. On the bright side, we can use the game’s currency to buy more outfits for our trainer and unlock outfits for Nia, the main NPC or advisor in the game. Speaking of Nia, although she always seems cheerful and motivating in the speech bubble text, the voice actor in English wasn't as excited to deliver the character’s emotions, which was a slight bummer.

The game doesn’t force a story upon you right off the bat, instead lets you dive directly to matches, either local or online, without the necessity to guide you through a tedious tutorial either. The game does have long in-depth tutorials available for new players as well as striking dummies for those returning competitive players looking to shake off the dust.

Even when we’re excited to see both Mewtwo versions available from the start, and all the 21 characters unlocked, the true disappointment lies in the story, which is nearly non-existent. There is no real story, you just start in some tournament called The Ferrum League where some cliché “mysterious person appears” that we have to defeat. On top of that, the battles are easy and not challenging at all, even for first-time players (unless it's your first time ever touching a fighting game). Fighting games never have a story that goes too deep, but taking into account that this is a Pokémon game, a franchise known for their interesting stories in the main games as well as in their spin-offs, Pokkén feels like it was a day late and a dollar short.


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Unlike the story, the gameplay actually has real content to offer; daily challenges, in-game currency, lots of combos and special abilities, online playability, local multiplayer... just to mention a few. Like a good pokémon trainer, let’s start with battles!

Like previous versions of Pokkén, each pokémon comes with their special ability called Synergy Burst, which is this game’s version of using mega-evolutions (sadly, no Z-moves yet!). When your bonding gauge is filled, you can unleash your Pokemon's mega evolution for a powerful and flashy mega combo (if it lands the first hit!). We all know not every pokémon has a mega evolution, but worry not, some of them have just-as-good equivalent specials, like our personal favorite from Croagunk. Nothing much has changed with our assist pokémon aside from having two starters from Sun and Moon join the team. The major difference in battle is just the frame rates when compared to the Wii U, and the ability to duo-play with just one controller (well technically two, but you get it, one console, two joy cons...) when compared to the arcade version, where you played locally with two separate classic controllers.

For first-timers, especially for those that just play RPGs and are playing Pokkén for obvious reasons, the controller and all the options available to each button combination can be mesmerizing, there is simply too many buttons to press for a pokémon player, who is used to maybe pressing one or two at a time. This button frenzy is good for Pokkén veterans, or any fighting game, as it gives them a variety of options to choose from and build strategies with each pokémon and support.

Taking fighting game things aside, and viewing Pokkén as purely a pokémon fan, it’s… ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!! It’s just breathtaking when you use a certain pokémon, and they hands down, NAIL IT. The abilities are just as our real-life Pokemon delusions would imagine them to be, and the way the pokémon moves and behaves during battle animations is exactly how they should be… like, it captures the nature of that specific Pokemon to perfection. On a side note, all 21 playable pokémon have a really cool entrance animation that really captures their personality. For example, every pokémon fan knows Gengar is a trickster, and also enjoys being mean to others and this is exactly how the character is portrayed. Another great example is Pikachu, and Lucha Pikachu, which is technically the same character but, the regular Pikachu feels a lot more like the anime’s version, even the voice is the same, and it’s more of a long-range speed based attacker, unlike the Lucha Pikachu which, like a Mexican luchador, needs to be closed ranged, having bulky powerful moves (and we love the fact Lucha Pikachu is a girl).

Okay, so what about competition? Well, Pokkén adapts to modern-time competitions online, with online rankings. If you’re new to the game… we’d advise you to keep away from trying online battles during your first days, as people in here are seriously skilled. “But if NPCs are too easy to practice with, and the online players too skilled, how do I get to be the very best?” And the answer is friendship! Or more like local multiplayer, go find a friend to play with! But, please stay away from the split screen as it makes the game a bit laggy as it drops to 30fps, not to mention super tiny if you’re using the Switch’s screen directly. If you wanna be extra sneaky and unfair, don’t tell your friend that triggering a Phase Shift will buff you, and debuff them… huehuehue.

A way to try and get good as a lone wolf would be 3 v 3 battles, or team battles (totally not related to the 3 way battles from the main game). In 3v3 you pick a team of 3 pokémon to battle with and once the first is defeated, you can pick who will be next from your other two team pokémon without it being considered a second round, much like the main game but without the switching during mid-battle. Sadly, it doesn't seem like this feature is supported in online battles, so it’s still fairly easy versus an NPC, making it ‘OK’ to maybe practice fighting styles of several pokémon at the same time, but not really a way to practice for online matches vs real people.

You could try to train in the daily challenges, a mode where they force you to use a random pokémon and supporting team while meeting that day’s “clear conditions”... but it’s sort of too easy to get good, and it’s definitely not rewarding for the effort. Maybe they tried to emulate the early Pokémon Stadium matches where they made you enter a certain cup with a random set of pokémon to use; who knows?. In these challenges, Nia most times gives out some good basic tips to learn combos, so make sure you’re reading. But if what you are using the dailies just for coins, might as well get all of those amiibos off your shelf and scan them daily for a couple of coins.

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Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

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A better story is the only thing that would have made this game gold. It’s a fighting game, understandable, but it’s also a Pokémon spin-off game. We can forgive games Super Smash Bros. for not having a story, because how do you even write a story where Donkey Kong and Yoshi don’t classify as pokémon, but hey, Pokkén Tournament is entirely just pokémon. We could have gone through different towns or gyms to unlock arenas, we could have started with just three pokémon and unlock them as we go, or heck, even be able to switch out in the 3v3 battles. Anyway, this game wins a gold medal when it comes down to the characterization of each pokémon available, but it really misses the essence of the pokémon adventure.

Honey's Pros:

  • 21 characters from the start
  • Special abilities are fun to watch
  • World ranking of online matches
  • Past issues have been addressed
  • Local Multiplayer
  • 2 local players use both Switch joy-cons, no extra controllers

Honey's Cons:

  • No story plot
  • Split screen is terrible
  • Bad voice acting for Nia
  • 3v3 battle not available online
  • No challenging content in story mode or dailies

Honey's Final Verdict:

Switch_PokkenTournamentDX_box-Pokkén-Tournament-DX-Capture-300x479 Pokkén Tournament DX - Nintendo Switch Review
So in the end, is it worth even getting Pokkén for the Nintendo Switch? Absolutely yes, especially if you have never played it before. Absolutely yes, if you’re a diehard Pokémon fan. Yes, again, if you’re upgrading from the Wii U version. But if you’re lucky enough to randomly live near an arcade that has Pokkén, maybe not? Unless you’re interested in participating in future online tournaments. At first, 60 USD seems like it’s “not worth it” but when you look closely, everything starts to add up, especially if you’re considering the future and yourself entering any wifi or local fighting game competitions.

Pokkén Tournament DX will be present in all of them. Of course, the game has potential to have a huge amount of DLCs, like many more Sun and Moon pokémon, new arenas and new supporters, but if you’re dreaming of getting better content story-wise, it’s not going to happen. Will they ever include all 802 pokémon? Highly unlikely. But that won’t stop us from training and mastering all 21 in Pokkén Tournament DX!

Thanks for joining us for this review! Make sure you’re not missing out on one of the best fighting games by Nintendo to date! Let’s go become the very best like no one ever was!

Switch_PokkenTournamentDX_box-Pokkén-Tournament-DX-Capture-300x479 Pokkén Tournament DX - Nintendo Switch Review


Author: Yanayme Roman

Yo! I'm yet another anime lover that lives in japan! I also love RPG games! My goal in life is to work in an animation studio! I love drawing anime! Love all related to anime!! Here is my work: https://honeysanime.com/honeys-anime-character-gallery/

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