Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get Ready for the Next (Pokémon) Battle!

Namco and Pokémon officially announced their marriage of fighting games and Pokémon, two of my favorite things in video games, and I couldn’t be more excited! Pokkén Tournament, a mix of Tekken gameplay with Pokémon, is planned for an arcade release for Japan in 2015. There’s no confirmation of a console release yet, but judging by Namco’s history of releasing fighters like Tekken on arcades first, it’s safe to assume a console release is inevitable. Worried that Pokkén Tournament will remain a Japan-exclusive? Pokémon Conquest was a cross-over between Pokémon and Nobunaga’s Ambitions, which is a rarely known series outside of Japan. If that got an international release, I’m sure Pokkén Tournament will.

 The first trailer show Lucario and Machamp duking it out in the countryside. A flurry of punches an Aura Spheres are thrown in this otherwise peaceful backdrop. While Pokkén Tournament’s fighting style is similar to Tekken, there also seems to be a hint of Dragon Ball Z fighting games like Raging Blast. In one scene, Lucario’s back is completely turned to the camera as he wales on Machamp. While characters in Tekken can circle around an opponent, their back never turns completely against the camera. Taking cues from DBZ fighting games might be a good way to balance the projectile-based attacks used in Pokémon.
Side-by-side comparison of Pokkén Tournament and DBZ Raging Blast
Ready to bust a move! Credit to Zweilous on Tumblr
Character selection make or break a fighting game, which Namco in the past has handled well. We already know that Lucario, Machamp, and Blaziken (teased at the Pokémon Game Show in 2013) are confirmed, so there’s definitely an emphasis on Fighting-type Pokémon. With that in mind, Hitmontop and Heracross would be my top choices for contenders. Yes, I’ll admit my choice is biased due to being my favorite Fighting-types, but they would bring welcome diversity. Hitmontop just screams Eddy Gordo! Heracross could play a mixed set, utilizing physical contact moves like Close Combat in his normal form, and then Mega Evolve to use more projectile attacks like Pin Missile.

If he can fight in Smash Bros, he can fight here
Hopefully, Pokkén Tournament will expand its roster to include more than Fighting-type Pokémon. It’d be a shame to miss out on powerhouses like Charizard and Tyranitar. It wouldn’t even take much to imagine their moveset. They got claws, they got a big tail, Charizard can fly and breathe fire, Tyranitar can throw rocks and cause earthquakes, they got all they need to be perfect fighters. Other hopefuls for me include Greninja, Mewtwo, and Shiftry.

*UPDATE: Pokkén Tournament producer Katsuhiro Harada confirmed via Twitter that other types besides Fighting will be represented. There's hope for Charizard! 
Tekken does a great job of including joke characters like Kuma and Roger Jr. and still making them play well. At first, I couldn’t think of a Pokémon that would work well in this game while being somewhat of a joke. Then it hit me, like a stick to the head.

It’s not a farfetched concept to imagine. Farfetch’d could use his stick to attack, kick up dirt with Sand-Attack, and peck things with his bill. The hype would be unreal if Farfetch’d won EVO! While the final decision of characters is up to Pokémon and Namco, a man can dream. But Farfetch’d would be pretty sweet.

While there isn’t much information, I’d expect in the coming months to hear more about Pokkén Tournament and what the King of the Pokémon Fist Tournament will bring. I’m excited about the first Pokémon fighting game, and know it’ll do well in Namco’s hands.

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