Video Games Weekly: Pokken Tournament
Gamers have been waiting for Pokken Tournament to be released for a while, and it’s finally here! It’s probably one of the most awaited Wii U games besides Starfox Zero, which isn’t out yet (librarians will probably want to preorder it though, jussayin’).
Background: You probably are familiar with the Pokemon franchise, so I won’t go into too much detail. If you’re not familiar with Pokemon and want to learn more, Mashable has a long but detailed article about the history of Pokemon.
Pokken Tournament is a different spin on the Pokemon games. This game is not your standard turn-based combat game that you are probably familiar with,instead, it’s a fighting game similar to Tekken or Street Fighter.
Platform: Wii U
Single or Multiplayer: Both.
Storyline: Players start the game as a new Pokemon Trainer, and you can customize your character’s appearance before starting the game. In this Pokemon world, trainers wear a special pseudo mind-control earpiece so they can control Pokemon in a battle arena. Once you are done customizing your character, you have to play through a [long] tutorial on how to fight in battles and you also get a tour of the map. The map replaces a basic menu, and from here players can battle online, battle locally, battle in a tournament, or customize their character/Pokemon.
Once you are done, you have the option of playing through even longer, more detailed tutorials about battle strategies and secrets, or you can jump right into the storyline. I highly recommend playing through all of the tutorials before jumping into a battle, especially those who are not familiar with fighting games. Yes, it’s a little overwhelming and mind numbing, but the skills you will learn in the tutorial will help you quickly progress in the game.
The storyline is not that obvious in the game, and for a while I wasn’t even sure if there was a storyline. In order to activate the storyline, players have to start competing in the Green League Tournament. In this type of tournament, you battle AI trainers in a tournament and try to rise to the top of your league. The leagues get progressively more difficult as you battle and once you succeed in winning the Green League Tournament, the storyline will start. The storyline comes down to an emergence of an evil Shadow Mewtwo, and you’ll eventually have to beat it to save the world. It’s a pretty typical storyline for Pokemon.
Gameplay: Players get to choose among 14 Pokemon initially to battle with, and there are only a few “classic” Pokemon to choose from. This will probably disappoint oldschool Pokemon fans, but the good news is you can unlock more Pokemon as you progress. My favorite Pokemon to play with was Suicune, because she is majestic. She can pulverize enemies with rainbow crystals and stomp them around the arena while looking quite fabulous. My only complaint is every Pokemon is voiced by one dude, and that was disappointing because it was hard to tell which Pokemon was yelling.
The battle controls are simple in concept, but difficult to grasp or memorize for inexperienced players. Although there are only six buttons (A,B,X,Y,L,R) on the GamePad, there are infinite combinations that result in different moves. Some are punches, some are blocks, and players learn these complex button formulas in the tutorials. What’s really neat is how each individual Pokemon has their own unique moves, strengths, as well as weaknesses, so this game incoroporates the same kind of strategic element that was present in prior Pokemon games..
Like many battle video games, there are essentially two tactics a gamer can use: 1) memorize button combinations and moves or 2) mash buttons and hope for the best. Usually the younger the gamer, the more likely they are to button mash, which isn’t necessarily a horrible tactic. If players really do want to progress in the storyline however, button mashing will not get them very far and they will be forced to memorize button combos.
Multiplayer: Players can battle online and personally, I got my butt kicked online. I highly recommend experienced players play online, because you’re sure to find a pro fighting gamer out there!
You can also battle another player locally (ie in the same room), but what isn’t fair is the person with the GamePad has the clear advantage. Battling with a Wiimote is even more complicated, so local multiplayer can feel unbalanced in terms of fairness. This is a common problem I’ve been noticing lately with the Wii U and unfortunately, you can’t buy another Wii U GamePad to play simultaneously with another one. Bummer.
Amiibo Component: The game comes with a bonus Mewtwo amiibo card, but luckily it is not required in order to play the game. Instead, it unlocks Shadow Mewtwo, but players can also unlock Shadow Mewtwo by beating the storyline. I left the Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card out of our circulating video games because I wasn’t sure if it would be returned with the game. I put them aside and will be using the amiibo cards at our Teen Game Night programs.
Audience: This game is for all ages, but teens will especially be interested in this game. My teens requested it for our Teen Game Night program, which I gladly obliged because there aren’t that many fighting games that are not rated M nor are they bloody.
Verdict: Primary purchase for library collections, and highly recommend getting this game for teen programs.
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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