Comparing the Deluxe
Multiplayer gameplay is ultimately the main draw for Pokkén Tournament DX. The base gameplay is decent enough, the Switch is ideal for the title, and the new Team Battle mode, while simple in concept, is a fun addition and adds some variety. For players who didn’t get the Wii U version, this game certainly offers a lot. However, something does need to be said on the missed opportunities for improvement.
The graphics are fine for the most part, but there are some cuts here and there. You can for instance make out polygon edges at times on the fighters, whose models are lower in polygon count than those within the main series titles. This applies to certain attacks as well, particularly Ice-type attacks. They can be ignored when caught up in the thrill of battles, but they could be better. Meanwhile, pre- and post-battle animations remain the same for each fighter as well. Maybe the greatest offender though is no tweaks to the background animations on arenas. You don’t expect great detail here – after all, the game is about the battle arena and what’s occurring within it, rather than the audience watching on. When these onlookers bob up and down without ever placing their feet on the ground however, there’s work that could be done.
Speaking of arenas, these are perhaps the most solely lacking aspect of the game in terms of practical variety. They come in circles or ovals, some longer or bigger than others; and that’s it. Despite some having rather nice aesthetics and imaginative settings, there’s nothing truly unique about them in relation to the battle itself, beyond how often or when synergy energy can be collected, and it’s a disappointment. Stage selection hence does not impact on the battle or give much aid to particular fighters outside of adjusting your positioning for projectile attacks.
The organisation of menus is mostly solid; but then little has changed from before. The game loads from system menu to game menu fairly quickly too, and navigating never takes too long. That said, having to visit ‘My Town’ to change your Pokémon for story mode is annoying, particularly when it doesn’t even get used for multiplayer. An option for a quick-select screen in the Ferrum League would have been better. Meanwhile, avatar custom selection and options could be better too – while it is a minor gripe, having facial edit options under a moustache icon, with no way to actually add any facial hair to your trainer, is odd. There doesn’t appear to be many additions to this either beyond new phrases and titles associated with the added playable and Support Pokémon. Lastly, when selecting a different outfit or background for your avatar, the game takes a second to update the model, which is odd when all it is bringing up is a flat 2D image.
The tutorials are hit and miss. The first few do quite well in explaining the basics and letting you participate, and they are customised for whichever fighter you pick. However, another advanced tutorial, described as being for more advanced aspect of the game, was a five minute exercise in listening to Nia tell you everything without the ability to try out anything. It results in a boring information overload.
Lastly, despite being a Deluxe version, one can still see evidence of the game being an arcade version at heart. There are only three game modes – regular, Extra Battles (which introduces random items on top of Synergy boosts) and Team Battles. These are always 1-on-1 fights and involve the same end goal and gameplay, with no other challenges on offer. When comparing to two other titles for the Nintendo Switch, both ARMS and Splatoon 2 offer easily more variety in game modes, and hence if you do not appreciate the finer parts of fighter games, Pokkén Tournament DX can start getting stale even with the five new fighters.
The music has not changed either, and a lack of new tracks is a pity. What is in the soundtrack is serviceable, and some tunes are worth the re-listen, but in all honesty it’s hard to recall any particularly catchy tune. Overall the sound work is serviceable. Sound effects for attacks are fine and do not interfere or dominate. Some may find a couple fighters make annoying shrills or the like, but sound effect volume can also be adjusted if desired. You won’t have to worry about fighters besides Pikachu repeating its name at any point like in the anime, and the more realistic direction with shouts and cries is a highlight.
Ultimately these are all small aspects by themselves, but they add up. And given this is an enhanced port of a game, it is disappointing that these areas, highlighted by the player-base for the Wii U version, have not been improved upon for the Switch release.
Meanwhile, the Amiibo functionality returns with the same 5-uses-per-day limit. However, given the rewards are relatively small, you don’t have to worry about any significant content being locked behind Amiibo. In this writer’s opinion that’s a plus and something that didn’t require any change.
- 21 fighters – the five new additions are all decently varied in playstyle and appearence
- Solid gameplay
- New modes that aid the single player experience and
- Takes advantage of the Switch portability and functionality
- Can turn off voiced lines
- Only three modes for multiplayer matches; one more than before but still too shallow
- Same gameplay mechanics and objectives throughout leads to lack of variety
- Lack of polish in some areas compared to the Wii U version
- Arenas remain vanilla in scope and functionality
- Nia will talk a lot before you can turn off voiced lines
Overall, Pokkén Tournament DX is fun and embraces the portability the Switch affords it. While the Online battle mode could not yet be tested, provided the servers remain stable for the console it’ll be a good time filler, and the ability to do local battles with friends on the go adds a nice dimension. While few, the additional modes and features are worthwhile, and it gets a lot of the basics of fighter titles right.
Ultimately, it comes down to your experience. If you haven’t played Pokkén Tournament on the Wii U and don’t mind fighting games (and additionally like Pokémon), it’s certainly a worthwhile purchase. If you enjoyed Pokkén Tournament on Wii U and are eager to enjoy the greater opportunities to play the game with friends, the Nintendo Switch version has you covered. However, if you were on the fence about the Deluxe version or are satisfied with what you played of the original title, it is harder to recommend picking up Pokkén Tournament DX right away, as while five “new” fighters and some new modes are decent additions, they fall short of being a major one that warrants full retail price for this player. One hopes that unlike the Wii U version, Pokkén Tournament DX will receive boosts to the roster and game modes through updates.
We thank Nintendo Australia for kindly granting us a review copy. Pokkén Tournament DX releases worldwide 22nd September.
Footage recorded by Me and edited by Jake.