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Pokkén Tournament Wii U Game Review

Reviewed by on Mar 15, 2016
Rating: 4 Star Rating

We finally have a Pokémon fighting game but was it worth the wait? With deeper combat than we were expecting, the short answer is yes! Check out Kidzworlds Pokkén Tournament review right here.


Pokkén Tournament Video Review


Pokkén Tournament for Wii U could have easily been mishandled by the wrong team. Transferring the turn based battle concepts of Pokémon into a real-time fighting game while keeping the gameplay fresh and unique is no small task and Bandai-Namco have for the most part pulled it off.

Surprisingly Deep

The core gameplay in Pokkén Tournament is actually a lot of fun and there is enough depth to the gameplay to result in some epic battles between two seasoned players. It's also accessible enough that casual fight fans or the greater Pokémon fan base in general can pick it up and start throwing flashy moves with little effort. When you really get a grasp on the gameplay mechanics though, the combat shines.

Charizard has a crazy mega evolution comboCharizard has a crazy mega evolution combo

Each Pokémon has ranged and homing attacks as well as blistering combos and a set special moves. All accessible from the start by pushing the control stick up, down, left or right in conjunction with a button or in some cases, two. Reversals, grabs, air dodges. It's all here. What makes Pokkén Tournament's gameplay stand out from the countless other fighting games available is the inclusion of two very distinct phases, Field Phase and Duel Phase.

Field Phase allows for 360 degree combat.Field Phase allows for 360 degree combat.

"Phase Shifts" happen through out the fights in real-time. In Field Phase you have 360 degree control to launch projectiles as you attempt to target an open and vulnerable side of your opponent. Things quickly change upon landing a hard hitting homing attack or special move and you're thrust into Duel Phase. Duel Phase turns the gameplay into a more traditional 2D fighting game and it's here where you will lay some of the biggest damage. Each phase actually grants Pokémon different attacks adding a ton of strategy. Back and forth this goes over the course of a match and it's always exciting. Running around in Field Phase takes some getting used to as movement feels a little angular and not always the smoothest but I quickly adjusted to it and fell in love with the fast paced moment to moment action.

When in Duel Phase combat is like a more traditional 2D fighter.When in Duel Phase combat is like a more traditional 2D fighter.

There is a well implemented rock-paper-scissors feel to the move sets. Throws overpower counter attacks, counters beat normal attacks and so on. A smart player will always have a move to match whatever you are throwing at them. What's also great is that each Pokémon has their own move set with no two feeling alike. Even regular Pikachu and Pikachu Libre offer enough differences to warrant learning both.

Calling In Support

While you fight, you are constantly building up a couple meters. One being your Synergy Meter, which when fully charged allows you to unleash more powerful attacks as well as a flashy and punishing ultra combo. The Strategy Meter meter is tied to your support Pokemon.

Call in support Pokemon to help you in battle!Call in support Pokemon to help you in battle!

Before each fight, you can choose a pair of support Pokémon to bring into battle. These guys can aid you with their own attacks or even replenish a little of your health depending on their designated role. Support Pokémon come in handy often and can turn the tied for those on the ropes.

Everything you do is also leveling up your Pokémon. After each battle you can allot earned skill points into one of four slots. Attack, Defense, Synergy and Strategy. So my version of Pikachu Libre could potentially have very different stats than yours. Again, adding another onion layer to battle strategies.

There are a lot of moves to learn.There are a lot of moves to learn.

Weak Link

While combat is definitely a blast with more depth than expected. It would have been nice to see the same attention given to some of the presentation. Menus are all slick, colorful and easy to navigate and matches feature some eye-popping moves. But the thin story at play in Tournament Mode is also told through really bland voice work over static images. The main guide alongside you can be quite irritating and really repetitive but at least her lines are delivered with some sort of enthusiasm, which I can't say for the other characters.

The story elements and voice acting are pretty bland.The story elements and voice acting are pretty bland.

What's more is the really "grindy" feel to the single player Tournament Mode. You will have played around 80 matches by the time you enter the "A" league tournament and have leveled up your character enough to give the mysterious Shadow Mewtwo a run for his money. The best rewards for your efforts are new support Pokémon to choose from. But you'll also unlock new gear, hair styles and accessories for you avatar to model.

Shadow Mewtwo is really powerful.Shadow Mewtwo is really powerful.

Battle Modes

If you're looking to take your Pokémon online I am happy to say the online play was fast and smooth in my time with it. If things change once the game is in the wild, I'll update the review but for now, the online portion seems to work well.

There's a pretty thorough training course in the Dojo.There's a pretty thorough training course in the Dojo.

On top the Tournament and Online Battle modes, you can take your Pokémon into the Dojo for detailed combat tutorials or to practice your combos. A Quick Match mode is also available for those that just want to jump into a single match with any of the 14 available Pokémon. Here you can set difficulty, match length etc.

Final Thoughts

Pokkén Tournament succeeds where it counts by delivering a well playing and unique fighting game for competitive and casual players alike. It shines on the battle field with exciting gameplay but missteps when it comes to presentation and rewards. The most important part though is that I have had a heck of a lot of fun playing it.

Pokken Tournament is available March 18th, 2016 for Wii U!Pokken Tournament is available March 18th, 2016 for Wii U!


  • Surprisingly deep gameplay
  • Solid and reliable online play
  • Flashy visuals at times


  • Voice work is horrible
  • Tournament mode is a bit of a grind

Pokkén Tournament Game Rating:4

Have Your Say!

Do you want to play Pokkén Tournament? Let us know in the comments!