Opinion: Pokken Tournament Needs Some Changes To Be Competitive

By | 7 months ago 

Pokken Tournament is no doubt a fun experience but, in this author’s opinion, Nintendo must make some changes to get the game ready for competitive play.

Last Friday saw the release of Pokken Tournament, a fighting game using Pokemon, with gameplay similar to that found in the Tekken franchise. Whether you’re a fan of the game or not, it’s no doubt an interesting route for Nintendo to take as part of Pokemon‘s 20th anniversary celebrations.

With the launch of the new title, the Big N appears to be attempting to take a step into the competitive gaming scene by pushing Pokken Tournament into the lineup for EVO 2016, one of the largest annual fighting game tournaments in the world. What’s more, the company has released a special edition controller, unique to the new game, which can be used to play local multiplayer without the need to carry around the GamePad. But, as I’m positive Nintendo will soon realise, there’s a lot more to do if it is truly looking to keep the title competitive.

First of all, as we mentioned in our review of the game, Pokken Tournament only has 16 playable characters. This is including the unlockable Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo fighters who are similar in many aspects, as well as the two versions of Pikachu available in the game. While this is the same number as the base game of Street Fighter 5, another recently released fighting game, that title promises a monthly DLC character which players can purchase with in-game fight money. Pokken Tournament, on the other hand, reportedly has no plans for any DLC at this point in time.

While I don’t think it should be necessary for a fighting game to have additional fighters added, it certainly helps with a game’s lifespan by keeping the fanbase excited, as we’ve seen in the latest Super Smash Bros. title. With over 720 available Pokemon to choose from, plus new creatures coming with Pokemon Sun and Moon, there’s no question that the game could easily fit in a few additional fighters – heck, we at Game Rant have a few ideas as to who we’d like to see added to Pokken already.

Pokken Tournament Launch Trailer

Next I think that Nintendo needs to restructure its ideas on the game’s controller. Local multiplayer usually requires just one console to play at a competitive scene, but Pokken is looking like it might need more than that. For one, the special edition controller is sure to be what the majority of players are looking to use in much the same way as many players use a fight stick for input-based fighting games but, at the moment, Pokken Tournament only supports one of the controllers at a time. The other player is then forced to use the Wii U GamePad as a second screen, ensuring that they have a much smaller display to look at.

Of course then the issue could become: what if both players want to use the GamePad? If they do, you could flip a coin or play rock, paper, scissors but not matter the result, someone is going to be using a controller that they don’t want to be and are therefore at a disadvantage for the game. This becomes a big issue when at high level competitive play and large amounts of money are on the line.


To combat this, tournament organisers could have 2 set-ups, with the consoles linked to one another, utilising the LAN battle mode. In fighting games however, even the tiniest amount of lag between consoles can be a huge issue for competitive players so this situation is not ideal, even if it would allow both contestants to use their own pad. The 2 set-up system is likely what most tournaments will require, especially as it is the only way to run Pokken at 60 frames per second.

Don’t get me wrong though, I personally love Pokken Tournament and am having a great time playing local multiplayer – something I think many believe is missing from too many games. It’s just clear to me that if Nintendo really wants to push the game as a competitive title, it’ll have to make some changes to the current software. If the fanbase responds well to the game, it’s possible that the company will take up the challenge of developing new DLC characters, but we are yet to fully judge the title’s character balance and broken mechanics, two things that will massively affect how Pokken copes in a competitive environment.

For now, we’ll have to see how the EVO tournament organisers handle the set-ups to judge if there are any major problems with how the game operates. We’re also sure to get a good look at the game’s balance and issues, based on which characters and moves we see abused as the finals approach. Hopefully Nintendo will be as good at fixing any issues that arise in Pokken as it has been with Smash Bros., but I’m also hoping that the company will take steps towards making the game easier to use in competitive settings.

What are your first impressions of Pokken Tournament? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Pokken Tournament is available now, exclusively for Wii U.