With the release and subsequent success of Nintendo Switch it’s clear that Nintendo has their sights on the Wii U library to bolster this new console. We’ve already had one big port with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and now we’re at it again with another Wii U title in Pokken Tournament DX. Unlike MK8, the original Wii U release of Pokken Tournament wasn’t universally praised. While it had an interesting set of fighting mechanics and a nice roster of Pokemon, the game lacked a few things that dragged the whole experience down somewhat. Pokken Tournament DX does a good job of patching a few of these holes, while also adding portability, which might just be enough to make it worthwhile for game starved Switch owners.
If you’ve already played Pokken Tournament on Wii U (or in a Japanese arcade) then you know exactly what you’re getting here. Taking the Pokemon franchise and turning the combat realtime, Pokken Tournament DX once again has players teaming up with a Pokemon to fight other Pokemon in a 2D/3D arena. Fights start out in 3D, with fighters moving all around the stage. Once a heavy blow is dealt though it switches into 2D, with each combatant hoping to land the strong attack that will send their opponent flying.
Adding to this are the assist characters, two Pokemon that will help you out during a match. Each has their own special ability, which charges up at a different speed, depending on its usefulness. Using these strategically can mean the difference between victory and defeat, so there’s a steep learning curve to this part of the game. Just as useful, but a bit easier to understand is the Synergy Gauge, which fills up during the match based on your skillful fighting. Once it’s full you can activate a power up that will let you deal massive damage to your foe.
The core fighting mechanics within Pokken Tournament DX are strong and have been left totally unchanged in the transition to Nintendo Switch. If you were a pro on Wii U then you’ll be a pro once again here. Of course, that also means that if you weren’t a fan of the Wii U fighter, you’ll probably want to avoid this Switch enhanced version. There’s a few changes to the game, but none that impact the overall experience in any significant way.
Pokken Tournament DX is the definitive release of Bandai Namco’s Pokemon fighter
Where changes were made it was simply in rethinking the unlock structure of the game. Previously players had to unlock some characters, and others were added later on. Some of these were exclusive to the arcade, meaning 90% or more of the audience never even got to try them out. They’re all here for Pokken Tournament DX though, including a Switch exclusive character. This all brings the roster up to over 20, fixing one of the big problems with the Wii U release. More importantly, they’re all unlocked right from the beginning, making the game more enjoyable for those who just want to get in and play.
Some game modes have been added, such as a 3v3 battle and ranked online. Most of your time in the early days will be spent in the same old Ferrum League though. This ongoing, single player tournament has you facing off against tougher and tougher fighters as you work your way to the top of the leader board. Once there you’ll move up to a new and more challenging league to do it all over again. This is where the storyline takes place, which is pretty skippable if you’re not dying for plot to drive your combat.
Those who’ve already beat the Ferrum League, or players who just want to fight other human players will want to jump straight into online multiplayer. This is likely the big seller for most players, and while we’ve only been able to test it intermittently before release, it is clear from the previous game this it should work well here once again. There isn’t a ton of variety to these matches, but that hasn’t stopped the Wii U game from holding a dedicated audience for over two years, so I wouldn’t expect less here.
On the whole Pokken Tournament DX is the same game you could find on Wii U, just a little bit better in a couple places. The graphics are mostly the same, which is to say they are fantastic. Characters looks great and everything runs at a smooth 60 fps either in the dock or in handheld mode. The fighting mechanics remain the same as they were two years ago, which is great if you liked them, and offers great promise if you haven’t tried the game out at all.
The biggest thing that makes Pokken Tournament DX worth a look for anyone, even if they bought the game on Wii U, is that it’s now portable. Fighting games work exceptionally well in portable format, allowing for quick matches between friends. Being able to play a game that looks and plays this well on-the-go is already great, and its multiplayer modes, including with just two Joy-Con, are robust enough to offer a lot of fun.
It is still the same game though, so only the most die hard fans should be willing to double dip on this “DX” release. If you haven’t tried Pokken Tournament before though, this is release you’ll want to get. It has more characters, more modes, and you can play it anywhere you want. If you’ve had a passing interest in the game, it’s worth checking out.
Pokken Tournament DX is the definitive release of Bandai Namco’s Pokemon fighter. With more characters, modes, and other features, it enhances and improves on the original in a few key areas. However, it’s not a complete overhaul at all, so those who never enjoyed the fighting mechanics will still want to stay away. If you’re looking for a solid fighting game on Nintendo Switch though, you can’t go wrong here.
Pokken Tournament DX
- Available On: Nintendo Switch
- Published By: The Pokemon Company
- Developed By: Bandai Namco Studios
- Genre: Fighting
- US Release Date: September 22nd, 2017
- Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
- Quote: "Pokken Tournament DX is the definitive release of Bandai Namco's Pokemon fighter. With more characters, modes, and other features, it enhances and improves on the original in a few key areas. However, it's not a complete overhaul at all, so those who never enjoyed the fighting mechanics will still want to stay away. If you're looking for a solid fighting game on Nintendo Switch though, you can't go wrong here."