Pokkén Tournament DX is an enhanced port of the original Pokkén Tournament (released last year on the Wii U) for the Nintendo Switch. For a more in-depth review of the original game, check out our review of the original game. The list of enhancements isn’t huge, but worthwhile. What makes this release so interesting though, is how a platform can change the entire gameplay experience.
Like I said, the list of changes isn’t too big. Four extra characters of the Arcade version are included, as well as a completely new character for the DX version: Decidueye. A new set of support Pokémon is added as well (Litten and Popplio). As for game modes, Team Battle Mode and Group Match Mode are added. To make the single-player somewhat more interesting, Daily Challenges and the Mission Board were added to mix things up a little. There’s also an option to watch battle replays now, which is a nice addition for those who want to hone their skills.
The Daily Challenges are a nice change of pace from fighting your way through the leagues. Where I usually use the same Pokémon for League Battles (to have it level up), the Daily Challenges provide the player with a pre-made scenario with different fighters each time. The Mission Board provides you with objectives to complete while progressing through the leagues, which turns the League Battles into more than just defeating your opponent. While I haven’t played the original game, the Leagues still felt like a little bit of a grind, so I can imagine the dailies and the missions being a big improvement for players picking up this game for the second time.
The platform impact
While the enhancements are a nice touch, the real important difference here is the platform. And I’m not talking about performance (which is, by the way, buttery smooth), but the way you play it. I’m a terrible fighting game player, so whenever I have a console fighting game I grow bored of it once I beat the single player. The AI is usually more than hard enough for me. Online is no fun, as I get my ass handed to me all the time, but I do fancy me some battles on the couch with friends. However, times change, and I don’t get friends over that much anymore.
However, it does happen to be that I see those friends at work every week, and that is where the platform comes into play. Whereas it’s quite difficult to bring a Wii U with you, within a minute I can pull out my Switch and set up the Joy-Cons for a few quick rounds of Pokkén Tournament. Of course this the key selling point of the console itself, but most games that I own take too long to properly play in a lunch break. With Pokkén Tournament, I can quickly play a couple of rounds in the five or maybe ten minutes I have between taking my last bite and getting back to work.
With that said, I do have a few notes. They don’t really apply to me as a casual player, but worth considering for more serious players. A single joy-con isn’t really going to cut it in a serious battle (not even two joy-cons in the plastic grip) due to lack of a proper D-Pad. The Pro Controller makes a big difference, even for me as a casual player. Second of all, for on-the-go multiplayer, the screen simply doesn’t cut it. You get a choice between the regular display mode (which focuses on one of the two fighters, giving an advantage to one player) or a split-screen mode with black borders, so each player has less than half of the 6.2-inch 720p screen available to see what his or her character is actually doing. Since the original game is already relatively old and they had plenty of time for the port, I’m a bit disappointed they couldn’t implement a better local multiplayer solution. Of course on a large TV it’s fine, but I only play the single player (or online) on that. Nonetheless, for casual play, it’s good enough and it brings plenty of joy to my lunch breaks.
Pokkén Tournament DX is a solid fighting game entry for the Nintendo Switch. It couples well with the platform itself, although the two-player screen modes could have been better. If you’re a competitive player, you’re best off playing on the big screen with the Pro Controller with plenty of online competition. Being able to watch replays of fights is a big plus compared to the original game. However, it has to be said that this game is yet another port of an existing game on another platform, instead of a new installment exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.