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Dogasu's Backpack | Features | Pokkén Tournament
Pokkén Tournament (ポッ拳 POKKÉN TOURNAMENT) is a fighting game produced by a collaboration of The Pokémon Company and Bandai Namco Entertainment. While it was initially promoted as a Pokémon x Tekken crossover the final product bares very little resemblance to the latter. It was released on July 16th, 2015 exclusively in Japanese arcades. An international release has not been announced yet.
I had a chance to check the game out on its release day here in Japan and thought I'd share my thoughts.
My original plan was to go by the arcade by my office and play a little bit during my lunch break today but unfortunately that particular arcade didn't have the game.
It wasn't until about 7:30pm that I arrived at the Pokemon Center in Ikebukuro. For those of you who have never been, the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo actually covers a large part of the 2nd story of the Sunshine City mall. There's the main store itself and then there's an arcade corner off to the side where Pokemon Tretta machines, the puck-based arcade game made for the elementary school crowd, are usually set up. When I rode the escalator up to the second floor I saw that the Tretta machines had been moved to the inside of the store while Pokkén Tournament machines took up the arcade space.
There were four machines in total; two with Lucario on them and two with Pikachu. The line, as you can see, was pretty small but that's actually not so unusual. Weeknights at the Pokemon Center Mega Tokyo are pretty dead and the store was only about 30 minutes away from closing anyway. I took a few pictures of the posters adorning the walls and then got in line.
During my ten minute wait in line I took note of a few things. The game cost 100 yen (about US $0.81) per play and supports Aime cards. Aime cards are these special IC cards you can buy that allow you to save your game progress. In Pokkén Tournament, I would later find out, this means you can save your Trainer data and any experience points / level gains your pokemon received (more on that later). It's not too hard to imagine that, with a little bit of reprogramming, this card functionality being replaced with Amiibo functionality for a potential console release. The door's certainly been left wide open.
I didn't have one of these Aime cards so I just went into the game au naturel.
When you put in your 100 yen and press the start button you get asked to scan your Aime card. Since I didn't have one I pressed the start button to skip past the counter. From there you're taken to the Character Select screen where you're asked to choose among eight playable characters. I chose Lucario. You then get asked what kind of game you want to play - Single Play, National Battle, or Local Battle. I went with the National Battle which pits you against players all over Japan. The game couldn't find anyone for me to play against so I had to end up playing against a CPU player.
The first battle's against Kairiky. I button mash my way through the match, pulling off combos randomly while learning the basics of the game. A placard above the screen listed out all the pokemon's moves but I didn't take the time to look through it until after the first round was over. The second time through I'm doing far less button mashing and even manage to Mega Evolve. Mega Evolving gives you a boost in strength, I guess? but I didn't really notice that much of a difference if I'm being honest. I win both rounds and move on to the next battle.
The second battle's against another CPU-Kairiky. The battle starts and then after a few hits...a challenger appears! It seems like the game doesn't stop searching for someone for you to play against even after the battle starts and so the game gets interrupted so I can go up against a real live human and her Pikachu.
Pikachu kicks my ass. I wasn't purely button mashing anymore by this point but I was still very, very new to the game. And while pokemon like Lucario and Lizardon can Mega Evolve for their ultimate attack everyone else gets these super charged attacks. For Pikachu it's Voltekken (ボルテッ拳, a portmanteau on "Volt Tackle" and "Tekken"), an attack that has Pikachu zip around and then finishing off with this crazy uppercut attack with a freakishly huge human-looking fist. It's kind of ridiculous / awesome.
Pikachu ends up winning the match and so it's Game Over for me. There were signs up in the line saying that you can only play one time if there are other people waiting behind you. Luckily for me that wasn't the case so I fed the machine another 100 yen and played again.
This time I chose Lizardon. Lizardon definitely moves more slowly; Lucario moves pretty quickly and has its Bone Rush attack that makes it handle like a swordsman but Lizardon kind of stomps around a bit more slowly.
My first match was against Manyula. The funny thing about this battle was that Manyula's so much smaller than Lizardon that the latter's Flamethrower attacks go right over its head! By this point I was pretty comfortable with the controls so I was able to call out Support Pokemon (Emonga or Fokko) and use attacks like Seismic Toss (which feels great when you pull it off) so I managed to win fairly easily.
One thing I kept noticing was how whenever I played against real live people they would be able to use Jirach as an Support Pokemon. Which I thought was kind of crap because all I ever had to choose from was Emonga and Fokko. I would later find out that those Support Pokemon are yet another perk of having one of those Aime Cards
The second match was against a Gengar. Again, I win pretty easily as I discover that the CPU's not all that great. Gengar has a really cool punch attack that punches through a tear in space but that's about all I remember from the battle.
I then made it to a third match. This time I was put up against another Lizardon who was colored a bit differently than mine and was wearing a sash. Again, the CPU sucks / I was getting better so the match ended fairly quickly.
After that my three battles were up and it was time to stop. By this point it was almost 8:00pm the the store was ready to close so I picked up my belongings, grabbed the Official Guide from a nearby staff, and headed out the door. But Ikebukuro's a pretty big part of Tokyo so I walked about five minutes over to a nearby arcade, found their Pokkén Tournament machines, and got in line.
Since I was in an actual arcade this time and not in the Pokemon Center I went out looking for a place to buy one of those Aime Cards I keep talking about. I found a machine, put in the 300 yen required to buy the card, and then went online to the official Pokkén Tournament website to register is. I then got in line and, after another ten minute wait, got to play my third round. I scanned my card, entered my name and gender, and then went to the Character Select screen.
This time I chose Suicune. I wanted to see how the four-legged pokemon would handle and I would say...very differently from the other two. The big thing about Suicune is that all its attacks are long range and take a long time to charge up so you definitely want to keep your distance whenever you use it. A fires off Aurora Beam (which is kind of easy for the other person to dodge), Forward + A for Hydro Pump, Back + A for Mirror Coat (which feels super great when you get it to work), and Jump + A for Blizzard.
All three times I play against a human character and all three times it's against a Sirnight. I didn't pay attention to whether or not the game was pairing me up against the same person three times in a row but I doubt it; the second Sirnight was really good and was thiiiiiis close to beating me while the third Sirnight was a complete pushover. By this point I knew what the hell I was doing and was pulling off combos / pulling off strategies with a fair amount of confidence.
After I won the game tallied up the experience I had earned and my Suicune went up to Level 2! You get taken to a screen where you get to choose which of its four attributes you want to have go up so I ended up choosing strength. A screen then comes up telling me that since I'm using an Aime Card I'll get to use both Jirachi and Elfuun the next time I play. Cool!
There was a line waiting behind me so I decided to call it quits for the night.
I'm definitely looking forward to playing it again soon. There's a lot to like about the game and I think it's going to be fun to level up my pokemon and watch them become stronger. I really, really hope this game gets a console release because that's honestly the only way I can see this game making it across the Pacific.
How's the controller?
It's...a regular video game controller. Nothing more, nothing less. D-pad, four buttons (A, B, X, Y), a big start button in the middle and two shoulder buttons. It wasn't uncomfortable or anything but it wasn't the next big thing in video game controls either. I did notice that the cord that connected the controller to the arcade cabinet was really short, though.
What are the fighting arenas like?
They're small. I felt like I was always being pushed up against an invisible barrier and the amount of space you actually have to use is quite limited. With that said, however, the backgrounds are fun and filled with life. There's a city with a Pokemon Center in it, a temple with a giant Registeel statue (?) half buried in the background, there's a mine with Yamirami riding past in little mine carts, there's a farm with a windmill, etc. There are lots of pokemon and people in the background and they really help make the places come alive. A few of the human character models are a bit off (Joi looks atrocious) but the pokemon themselves look great.
How do Lizardon and Lucario play in Pokkén Tournament compared to Smash Bros?
Pokkén Tournament and Smash Bros are such completely different games that it's hard to really compare the two but, gun to my head, I'd say that Lucario moves a lot faster and Lizardon has a lot better attacks. It's going to be hard to go back to Smash Bros 4, honestly; the way they handle in this game just feels so much better.
This page will be updated as I get more time in with the game.
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