Title: Pokken Tournament DX
System: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 09/22/2017
Being an enhanced port of Pokken Tournament for Wii U, the main story and other aspects of the game are exactly the same as they were in that version of the game. Therefore, I will refrain from repeating the same thoughts I shared with the original for the bits that didn’t change.
When it comes to the visuals, everything in Docked Mode is presented in the exact same quality that they were on Wii U, so everything that was in the Wii U version looks just as good now as it does here. For the new characters and stages exclusive to this version of the game, they all blend in snugly to with the game’s artstyle, with the new beach stage containing just as much fun things to spot in the background (such as a Pyukumuku giving a peace sign or Sandygast idling about) as the other stages, proving that the new content had just as much effort put into it as the old material.
Upon taking the game with you in portable mode, the detail continues to shine, with the crisp display of the Switch greatly benefiting Pokken, as little detail is lost in the resolution switch, save for a few background objects being just a bit harder to spot than before. The music also sounds perfectly fine in both modes, with the new theme accompanying the beach track being a really catchy tune that’s a major improvement over the average tracks that remain from the Wii U version of the game.
Since I mentioned how the core game is exactly the same here as it was on the Wii U, that also means the single player Ferrum League mode is still as much of a repetitive slog as it always has been, unfortunately. That being said, there is a small tweak to the single player that makes the repetitive nature less of a problem, and that’s the Mission Panels presented with each rank.
With one Mission Panel becoming available at the start of each rank, plus a secondary being available if you 100% the first one, these mission panels are a list of mini-achievements that the game tasks you with completing throughout the many, many battles you’re required to do in the single player, and only in that specific rank. (So you won’t be able to unlock Green League panels in the Red League, for example)
For the earlier leagues that were short to begin with, this can seem pretty pointless, especially since you’ll have to battle long after beating the League Leader in order to get all the panels unlocked, but it does add a fun bit of replay value to an otherwise dull campaign, and it especially comes in handy for the painfully long Red and Chroma Leagues, which were long, boring chores to complete on the Wii U. Speaking of the Wii U version, to make up for the lack of the Wii U Gamepad, the Local Multiplayer has significantly improved, now offering a single screen experience that doesn’t suffer from the atrocious framerate drop that the Wii U version dealt with, although you can still split the screen if you’re mad enough to deal with a lower framerate, and for some baffling reason you still cannot earn experience from these matches, despite that being something possible in the Wireless Multiplayer mode, which requires two Switch systems.
While I praised the original Pokken for having a solid roster with not a single character that felt unplayable, the five newcomers are a mixed bag, with four of them being introduced in updates to the Arcade version that skipped the Wii U entirely, these characters being Empoleon, Croagunk, Scizor Darkrai, and the Switch exclusive Decidueye. Empoleon and Scizor feel like natural additions to the roster, controlling rather well and being fun to practice with, but the other three aren’t nearly as accessible. Decidueye is tricky to get the hang of at first, but once you get his tricky combos and attacks down he becomes one of the best characters in the game, but the other two are just a total mess. Darkrai relies less on power and more on complexity, being somewhat similar to Gengar in nature but a lot harder to master, making him a character I just can’t recommend to newcomers unless you’re willing to practice hard with him.
That just leaves Croagunk, the absolute worst fighter in the entire game due to the random nature of his attacks. Sometimes they’ll be really good, and sometimes they’ll barely do anything significant. He’s an unpredictable pain to play as, but even he can be a valuable asset, since those skilled enough to master him can really take advantage of his randomness to make quick work of opponents despite the fact that there are plenty of other characters who are easier to use and stronger by a long shot.
Finally, to round off the new additions and tweaks, there’s a Daily Challenge option, which pretty much gives you a set Pokemon and support pair to use in a battle against the CPU for experience, which can sometimes include the new Team Battle option, where you play as three Pokemon in a row, trying to take down everyone on the opponent’s team before they defeat you. It’s a fun way to experiment with other characters you would normally ignore, and a recent update enabled online Team Battles, making this something that could lead to a lot of online tournaments in the future (thanks to the Online Group mode, another new addition)
In conclusion, Pokken Tournament DX does a great job at being the Switch Port this fun little fighter deserved, adding a few helpful quality of life improvements, along with enhancing the single player just enough to reduce the awful repetitive nature of the League mode. Despite the same issues with local multiplayer and lack of Pokemon variety in the Ferrum League, it’s still really addicting to go after all the unlockable titles, or challenge other players online in Ranked Matches, which I had just as much fun with now as I did last year. If you enjoyed the original or want to try out Pokken for the first time, then this is the best place to start! I give Pokken Tournament DX an 8 out of 10.