Over the last 25 years, Pokemon games have come in all different genres, formats and form factors.
With over 120 different titles to comb through, it may be easy to overlook some notable titles in The Pokemon Company’s arsenal.
This article will discuss the most underrated spin-off game from the main Pokemon series: Pokken Tournament. Pokemon has always been about battling, but Pokken Tournament takes it to a whole new level. This fighting style game really puts player’s skills to the test in a way that has not been done in the main series games.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the opinion of the writer.
Pokken Tournament: The most underrated Pokemon spin-off from the mainstream series
Pokken Tournament or Pokken Tournament DX for the Nintendo Switch is a Pokemon franchise game spin-off in which Pokemon battle it out in a Tekken-style fighting manner. The game presents multiple elements modeled after Tekken and other fighting games by adding features such as 2D and 3D movements, among many others.
Depending on the version of the game that users are playing (Arcade, Nintendo Wii U, or Nintendo Switch), there are up to 23 well-known Pokemon available to use in this one-of-a-kind fighting game. Special Moves and Mega Evolutions were also perfectly incorporated into the game.
When the game was in its early stages of development, Tsunekazu Ishihara, the CEO of The Pokemon Company, wanted to feature mainly fighting-type Pokemon in the game. This was not well-received by the producer of Soulcalibur, Masaaki Hoshino, who was also the producer of the project. As a result, the game was released with different types of Pokemon.
The game features two different fighting modes. Field Phases are phases where Pokemon can move around freely, similar to fights in Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm. Meanwhile, Duel Phases are fought relatively closer, like Tekken-style battles.
Pokken Tournament presents multiple elements modeled after Tekken and other fighting games (Image via The Pokemon Company)
Originally unveiled in Japan as an arcade game in July 2015, Pokken Tournament initially received stellar reviews from critics. As of 2021, only sixteen of the twenty-three Pokemon are playable in the arcade version.
Pokken Tournament was released worldwide in March 2016 on the Nintendo Wii U. The game received mixed reviews as a console game, which is ironic considering that the arcade game tried its best to give players the experience of console gameplay. Pokken Tournament was then remade and re-released for the Nintendo Switch as “Pokken Tournament DX” in September 2017.
Pokken Tournament initially received stellar reviews from critics (Image via NintendoSoup)
Due to the fact that one game credit can last a single player up to 45 minutes, the arcade version of Pokken Tournament did not pull in the revenue that was initially expected.
However, the game was doing phenomenally consumer-wise. Pokken Tournament was nominated for best Fighting Video Game at The Game Awards 2016. Both the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo Switch versions peaked as the best-selling games the week of their release.
The Wii U version even tripled the sales of the Nintendo Wii U in Japan immediately after its release. As of March 2021, the Nintendo Switch version of the game has sold over 1 million copies.
Considering all these factors, it is obvious that Pokken Tournament is the most underrated Pokemon spin-off from the mainstream series.