Pokkén Tournament: First Impressions

This article was originally published at Another-Castle.com

I had a brief chance to try out Pokkén Tournament over the weekend. I had to look around but I eventually found a couple of machines at an arcade next to a whole bunch of Tekken 7 machines in Sakae, Nagoya. It occurred to me as I wrote this that I should have tried Tekken 7 too – as it hasn’t been released overseas yet. My time was limited though and I’m probably the worst person on this site to talk about fighting games anyway. To be frank, I’m only interested in Pokkén Tournament because it is a Pokémon game. If you’ve been following the game you probably know a great deal about it now so I’ll try to spare commonly known details and stick to my impressions.

What most surprised me upon seeing the machine is that it is played with a control pad. A very simple control pad with no analogue sticks. I was also surprised that there are only eight characters to choose from. I don’t know if more are unlockable but it seems a very small selection and if Namco are planning a home release, I hope they’re planning to include more characters. The arcade game also allows use of a card or mobile phone scanner to retain progress; a feature common in many Japanese arcade games.

In my play I selected Charizard and the easiest of the three available tournaments. I played two battles; the first against Gengar and the second against Machamp. I easily won both, even scoring a perfect round in both. So easy, does indeed mean easy because I’ve never been very good at fighting games. The d-pad used to move is smooth and despite the 3D environment, the controls worked well. Charizard hovers in the air and the controls reflected the smooth movement of flight. The different fighting moves I attempted were also quite easy to pull off.

Not having had time for any more than one game, I’m not going to pass judgement without more time. Even though I won the two fights, I had to pay to continue which again, is quite normal in arcade games: those who’ve played Namco’s arcade version of Mario Kart will know what I’m talking about. The fighting generally felt smooth and responsive and the overall presentation was like a Pokémon tournament played in real-time which of course, is the whole point. If this is to be brought to the Wii U – (and I’d be very surprised if it isn’t), it will obviously need a lot more content to recommend it. If you were to take away the Pokémon licence, it wouldn’t be remarkable at all but then I would have just played Tekken 7 instead.

July, 2015

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