Sunday, 20 March 2016

First Impressions: Pokkén Tournament

I'll write the post after one more game all right?! *Two hours later* Should probably start. *Two days later* Oh dear...

That is basically what happened with Pokkén Tournament, the new 3D freeflow Pokémon fighting game (I did an unboxing on the YouTube channel if you want to check it out). After preordering it a while back so as to get the Shadow Mewtwo card, I decided to try to play a bit more competitively than with other games (I always say I will then never get round to going on ranked matches). So I picked my main Pokémon as Weavile (haven't actually played as any of the others yet) and after playing a couple of LAN battles against Harry to gain the gist of the game I jumped straight into some friendly matches online.

After some very close finishes and a 4 win: 1 loss ratio on friendly, I jumped into ranked battles (normally I wait because I'm scared of my win/loss ratio going down but I forced myself into it) and won the first two battles. Feeling quite pleased with myself I carried on and then Suicune came along. Suicune, along with Chandelure, Braixen and a few others are ranged attackers (Weavile's focused on speed instead) and are the bane of my Pokkén existence at the moment. Due to the main damage being dealt in Duel Phase, a 2D plane similar to Tekken, and ranged attackers having moves that cover the bottom section of the screen, with some moves even damaging you when you are blocking, it becomes very easy for them to stop you from ever reaching them.

However, I'm not sure if this is a balance issue or something that will be found to have a counter over time as I didn't see a Suicune as a top ranked Pokémon until around the 150 mark. It is early days for this game after all and the franchise as a whole. Anyway, my win/loss ratio in ranked battles is now a nice 50/50, with both mine and Harry's (his main Pokémon is Machamp) coming under that number. The battles overall have been really fun and I've rarely found one that's unfair although not being able to rank down after losing could hurt the matchmaking in the long run as a couple of lucky matches could make you face a lot harder opponents.

The graphics and music are awesome and the environments are varied although a couple of the backround features could do with a few more pixels. However, the pace of the battles mean that you can never look around for long, especially as the camera is locked onto your opponent at all times. I haven't unlocked all the stages yet as well as the support Pokémon, so the game seems to have plenty of unlockables to keep the game interesting for a more casual player. The inclusion of titles is nice as well, and they serve as achievements (the Wii U really needs general achievements, as Smash Bros., Xenoblade Chronicles X and Pokkén each have their own anyway), although having a more varied unlock requirement than 'lucky bonus' would've been nice. amiibo are available to use, although you can only use 5 per day and they only unlock random clothes or titles (in the special amiibo category for the latter), so nothing like Super Mario Maker or Yoshi's Wooly World specific unlocks here.

I had a quick go at the Ferrum League, the single player offering, and found it quite good although by that time I was a bit overpowered for the Green League (you gain experience after each battle and can allocate skill points into attack, defence, synergy or support) and managed to blast my way through it until Shadow Mewtwo where Harry and I promptly destroyed. The major flaw with this game has to be the sub-par voice acting which sounds forced and synthetic, and really for a big company like Nintendo, it is inexcusable. Allowing you to have the option to turn the voice-acting off is nice although it's a bit of a workaround than fixing the problem.

Overall, I've had a really fun time with Pokkén Tournament so far and can't wait to play more and hopefully rise the ranks. Whether DLC or balancing will enter the world of Pokkén is yet to be seen but it is definitely the start of something great. Now to have another battle.

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S if anyone has this game and would like their wins to be added to the leaderboards then comment below and if anyone wants a friendly battle comment your friend code.

Note: after doing some more 'research' while writing this post, I had a battle with a Gengar which I must say, seems to have been made to be as nightmarish as possible. It went into burst mode and proceeded to destroy me even countering attacks I made with ones of its own. The previous round I had defeated it with my burst attack so it all came down to round 3. I had 1 hp, they had over 200. I got a combo going and managed to... Win! This is where Pokkén and Nintendo really shine, as you are never out of the race with games like Pokkén and Mario Kart. My heart was though as I leaped into the air celebrating.

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