Pokken Tournament Review: A Dream come True

Pokken Tournament is an amazing fighting experience that provides a good entry point for those unfamiliar with the genre.

When I first heard about Pokken Tournament, I was skeptical. I love the Pokemon series, but I prefer the adventure titles. I was not sure how a fighting game would turn out, but it is everything I could have asked for and more! It should be no surprise since the producer for Pokken Tournament is the same producer of Soulcalibur, and it was influenced by Tekken.

This game provides a good entry point into the fighting game genre for those unfamiliar with it. The game is technical enough that I can see this becoming a permanent series, welcomed into the exclusive fighting game club.

Unique Fighting with Phase Shifts

What sets Pokken Tournament apart from most fighting games is the battle arena. Fights take place, and switch frequently, between two phases. The Field Phase has free movement like a 3-D arena fighter. Duel Phase turns the arena into a 2-D fighter, such as Street Fighter or Tekken.

Certain attacks will put you into the opposite phase, which leads to some interesting combos and game play.

Some Pokemon are more suited to the long-range nature of Field Phase, and some want to get in close for devastating combos in Duel Phase. This is what makes the game fun and different, while still sticking to roots of a serious fighting game.

Single Player

This section is a mixed bag. There are plenty of single player options, which is good, however I don't agree with everything.


Pokken Tournament Tutorial

The tutorial is great. It teaches you everything you need to know abut the game and even some advanced tactics. For younger players, and those unfamiliar with fighting games in general, it is definitely overwhelming.

You learn one thing after another with only a few tries on each and if you fail, it just moves on to the next thing. The good thing is that you can come back at any time to redo any of the tutorials, so while it is overwhelming, you can learn at your own pace.


Fighting games are not known for their story, and this game keeps that trend! There are some things going on with Mewtwo, but overall you just fight. A lot. All the time.

My issue here isn't that the story is bland, it is the sheer number of battles that you go through.

Sure it is great that you will have plenty of battles to do in single player, but this is also how you unlock support character in the game. You will have to complete 100+ single player battles before you complete the main story and unlock every support and the Mewtwo characters.

This isn't a huge issue, but when it just consists of battling Pokemon and very little narrative, it can get tiring in long stretches. You also have to rank up in the story by doing league matches, which consists of 5 matches in a row.

If you lose any, your rank doesn't go up much, which requires you to do several more battles. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it. Personally, I have the most fun playing against other players and could do it all day without getting tired.

Before moving on, I have to address the English voice acting. I won't say that it is the worst thing I ever heard, but I will say that I turned off all voices. I have never done that in a game in my life.

Online, Multiplayer, and Roster

You can fight locally against someone on the same console, however, one person must use the Wii U game pad and look at the screen while the other players uses the TV and their controller of choice.

This is needed because of the way the camera works in the game, every player needs their own screen. It isn't a problem for me, but it is something to think about.

The online multiplayer -- what I've played of it so far -- is solid. Fighting games are the worst games to play when you get lag, but I haven't had much of an issue with that in the 50+ matches I've played so far. From my experience playing online in other fighting games, Pokken Tournament was the best time I ever had.

Pokken Tournament Roster

The roster has mixed results. There are not a lot of characters, but some of their choices were confusing to me. I know they wanted balance, but why is a Pokemon like Chandelure in the game, while saints like Greninja are not? Plus, there are 2 Pikachu and 2 Mewtwo. There are around 721 Pokemon, surely they might have added of a few of the others instead.

The good thing is that the game seems fairly balanced from what I have seen so far. Sure some Pokemon might be easier to play than others, and there are a few cheap things you can do, but every Pokemon is good.

If you like the way a Pokemon plays, you can be good with them and win matches. The smaller roster also makes it easier to learn how each Pokemon fights so you can defeat them.

Overall, I am very impressed with Pokken Tournament and hope this becomes a new franchise for Nintendo. If you ever feel like doing some battles, Synzer is my name on the Wii U as well.

Our Rating
Pokken Tournament is an amazing fighting experience that provides a good entry point for those unfamiliar with the genre.

Guide Editor

After gaming for 25 years, Synzer leveraged his vast knowledge of RPGs and MMOs into a job as a games journalist, covering the games he loves. Five years later, he's still writing about Kingdom Hearts, Pokemon, and Knights of the Old Republic. Synzer has a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing. You can see him in action on his YouTube channel (https://bit.ly/2F97BrR) and Twitch (https://www.twitch.tv/synzergaming).

Published Jun. 27th 2016
  • | Narz |
    I didn't know about this! Im going to have to check it out! Thanks! =D
  • ElectricNerd
    I absolutely loved this game and have to agree, the online fighting in this game is WAY more enjoyable than the time I spent on Street Fighter V or any of the other newest fighting titles in recent memory.
  • Chief-Moha
    I have been really hyped for this since it was announced, haven't had a chance to pick it up yet though. have to admit its upsetting that they chose to make two Pikachu instead of adding my favorite Quilava, but it is what it is. I am really happy to hear that the game is a solid fighter i was worried it would be to simple and uninnovative.
  • DoubleVendetta
    As a longtime aficionado of the fighting game genre, I don't think it's really fair or accurate to say the whole "Fighting games aren't known for having story" anymore; certainly not these days. When you have things like Mortal Kombat 2011 and X, the BlazBlue series, Persona 4 Arena, and now even Street Fighter V trying to play into the whole "big epic story" vein, it's become clear that fighting games with solid, fleshed out stories is very much a trend that's here to stay. I mean hell, as convoluted as it might be in both cases, Soul Calibur and the Tekken series both have story as well.

    With all of that said, it kind of makes it a little odd that of all things, a fighting game based around Pokemon, which has literally one of the deepest backgrounds in all of gaming history, wouldn't get a decently written story mode. Odd, and for hardcore Pokemon fans, (which I am not) I can only imagine, a bit disappointing.
  • Synzer
    Guide Editor
    Well, I'll agree that recently there have been some decent story modes in fighting games, but it is usually not the focus or point in playing a fighting game.

    It is true that there are stories in all these games, and there is one in Pokken Tournament. There is a break at one point where you must deal with the story, but it really isn't the main focus of the game.

    I am a hardcore Pokemon fan, one of my favorite series ever, but I don't mind that Pokken is light on the story. Any fan of the Pokemon series knows that the stories in those games aren't amazing either.

    It is designed as a kids game and fans of the series don't play the games for their story. The game play and competitive aspect is where most of the replay value come in for Pokemon games.

    Pokken Tournament is meant to be a great fighting game, so the light story they have does not take away from the overall quality of the game.

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