Pokkén Tournament
Pokkén Tournament Review by Slim Shady

Even as an avid Pokemon fan, I have to admit I was a little skeptical when Pokken Tournament was announced. Tekken was, admittedly, never one of my favorite games in the fighting genre--due to its choppy style--and I was afraid that Pokken would adopt that. However, as I am a slave to the Pokemon franchise, I purchased Pokken Tournament.

Okay, I maybe had preordered it, scoured the depths of the Internet for leaks, and bought a lot of merchandise. But come on, seeing Gengar in all of its well-designed, spooky WiiU glory? (Which should have happened in Super Smash Bros. WiiU, but that is a rant I will save for another day.) The concept of a fresh, new way to battle was enough of an incentive.

If you begin in the Story Mode, you start out as a challenger of the Ferrum League; an elite group of trainers centered around 'Synergy'--a strong bond between a trainer and Pokemon. But when a dark force threatens the League and the ties between humans and Pokemon, it is up to the player and their partner Pokemon to save the day.

Aaaaand an annoying 'coach' named Nia that decides to tag along and serve no purpose but to antagonize you with her obnoxious voice. The worst part? You can't turn her off. Sure, you can try to escape her incessant talking by setting the advisor settings to 'none', but her messages will still appear. Which means, if you lose a match, you still get to see her insults that are just borderline cruel--such as her comparing you to a pathetic Magikarp. For her being an important game mechanic, that is not a good thing. Worst of all, the voice acting in this game is hilariously bad; during serious plot points in the game, Nia is questioning you in an emotionless voice that reminds me of an unenthusiastic first grade teacher reading to a group of rowdy students.

But, despite her being a reasonable rival against Navi for the 'most annoying character' slot, Nia does boast a useful skill--waifu outfit changes! (I'm kidding, but character personalization is a wonderful asset to this game, allowing you to purchase new clothing and backgrounds for your character to fit your creative needs.)

Nia has a nifty tool called the "Cheer," which allows you to formulate your own technique in battle. For instance, you have two gauges that are filled over time during the battle, 'Support' (which allows you to summon a 'helper Pokemon,' each with its own special attack) and 'Synergy Burst,' (an extremely powerful move). Between each round, if you select Nias' "Support Based" Cheer skill, when you hop back into battle, your Support Gague will be maxed out and ready to unleash on your opponent. There are many different skills and options to try out and tailor to fit your fighting style.

Pokken also brings a fresh trademark to the table--alternating phases with unique move controls for each. Dual Phase can be compared to a close proximity, face-to-face grapple, while Field Phase gives you the opportunity to move around your opponents entire circumference. These phases alternate back and forth repeatedly during battle, so its important to know the distinctive controls and movements for both!

The game, also, definitely didn't disappoint me with its aesthetics. The character models are designed with a beautiful amount of detail, all the way down to the flowing of Suicunes butt-ribbons. (Yes, this is a thing.) The stages, although lacking in variety, have a wide array of things going on in the background. This allows the game to be more immersive and alive, grounding a fictional universe into a believable world.

Pokken definitely has its flaws in regards to variety and substance, but the ability to make your playstyle uniquely yours is its saving grace. I would definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for a new way to experience the Pokemon world, or if you're looking for a fun and addicting pastime.
Pros:

     ˇ    Unique Fighting Interface - The alternating phases and interesting movesets lead to an fresh new experience for fans of both Tekken and Pokemon.

ˇ    Detailed Stages and Character Design - The models in Pokken seem to be a lot more harsh than the traditional, bubbly style of Pokemon, but it is executed very well. From the Joker-esque warped realm brought on by Gengar to the pop star persona that Braixen gloats, Pokken allows you to not only experience characters, but their personalities as well. The Stages are engaging, grounding the real world into that of fiction. There are little bits of life going on in each of the backgrounds.

ˇ    Tailors To Your Fighting Style - Each character is set into three different categories, "Technical," "Standard," and "Speed," making it easier for seasoned and novice gamers to select their main based on their strengths. This makes the battling a lot more balanced at the start, therefore reducing the need for character nerfs.


Cons:

ˇ    Low Replay Value - Sadly, Pokken Tournament suffers from the same thing a lot of modern fighting games do. Once you beat the main story, there isn't really much to progress on; at least, not enough to hold your interest. Online Play fixes this, but only slightly. The outlook for Online Play in the coming years isn't spectacular, seeing as the fanbase is already beginning to dwindle. (Although, I could be a little biased in this regard. The servers shutting down for HeartGold and SoulSilver traumatized me. May they rest in peace.)

ˇ    Terrible Voice Acting - The worst thing about this game is the voice acting. I hate to be harsh towards beginning actors, but when every character has the same emotionless, deadpan drawl, it makes the storyline not as immersive. Which leads me to my third point...

ˇ    Lacks Depth in Regards To Storyline and Lore - Honestly, I had to force myself to see through the storyline. It is rather shallow, focusing on Synergy and not much else. A lot of things remain unexplained as well. I don't see a future for the Ferrum region due to this.


Rating:
Fighter's Nirvana Rating - 6/10 - Acceptable

- Slim Shady 01/03/17