Pokkén Tournament (Arcade) Preview

By Neil Flynn 24.11.2015 3

Review for Pokkén Tournament on Arcade

Pokkén Tournament - a game that only costs £0.50 a turn and is an endurance of second hand smoke. That is because where this unit is being played in a Japanese arcade, the public area smoking ban doesn't apply, and, surprisingly, arcades are not filled with the youngsters that many would expect. Nintendo's Wii U will be receiving a port of Pokkén Tournament in early 2016, but the question is: is it a title to get excited for?

Expectations were high whilst preparing to sit down to play this game. The cabinet, while small, is visually appealing, and the menu, while in Japanese, is pretty simple. There are four options: CPU battles, a tournament mode versus CPU or human opponents via network connection, human versus human, and a tutorial. Each option costs 100¥ (£0.54) a turn and it is totally worth it.

The tutorial (again, in Japanese) is pretty straightforward. Users choose one of the 10 selectable Pokémon, ranging from Pikachu to Lucario, and then moves and combinations are able to be practiced with that monster. It teaches the basics and then allows a low level CPU opponent to be fought, to test what has been learnt. It's actually a fairly lengthy tutorial, particularly for an arcade game.

Screenshot for Pokkén Tournament on Arcade

With newfound abilities acquired, jumping into the CPU battle mode was the next logical step. In this mode, two battles against CPU characters are fought. As per most fighting games, battles consist of up to three rounds (the winner is the first to two wins), and a good six battles were played to fully test the feel of the game. Following that, a bonus fight against a surprise Pokémon was rewarded. No spoilers here, but this one truly gave a beat down!

Slotting in another 100¥, it was decided to take on Tournament mode, which pits users against other Pokkén players around Japan via a network setup. If no player is found then a CPU opponent is automatically fought. Difficulty can be set to Easy, Medium or Hard.

This is where the real meat of the game is. The first few computer opponents can be sailed through, but as soon as another human player entered (challenger approaching), things became a lot harder. Just scraping through, the game continues...but here's the thing: this play was still running off the same 100¥ that was put in earlier. Six battles, which roughly took about 15-20 minutes, and still playing on the same coin. Brilliant value for money! Unfortunately, progression was continually hindered as tournament mode was proceeded through, as human-enabled opponents kept on getting the better. However, after spending a collective two hours with the game, opinion was already decided.

Pokkén Tournament is visually striking; it looks and feels like a Pokémon game - there is no doubt about that. The abilities and moves are brilliantly executed with such fluidity. The soundtrack is good, too - especially when executing and landing a move.

Screenshot for Pokkén Tournament on Arcade

The controller is what can catch users off-guard, though. It feels like the original PlayStation controller - yes, an actual controller; not a fight stick setup. The controls are fine and quite easy to understand, and the moves are easy to pull off. No half-circles, charge moves or ridiculously long combos were on show here. These are simple combinations, which really do allow a number of players to not feel ostracised by such a game - something that this genre rarely does, let alone at the arcade level.

The battles themselves switch from a 3D plane to a 2D plane every so often, allowing play styles to be mixed up. The match starts in a 3D view, but once a combo is landed, it switches to 2D for a certain amount of time, before switching back to 3D. The only gripe with this is that it's natural to get into a rhythm that is comfortable fighting with, only to then be thrown back into a 3D arena where the controls and moves change again. It does take some getting used to, but once it does, the depth of the gameplay on offer can be recognised.

Screenshot for Pokkén Tournament on Arcade

As per most fighting games, there is a special meter, which, once built up, can activate a Mega Evolution. This is done by pressing L+R, and then pressing this combination again allows the Pokémon to unleash its special move. However, a more suped-up version of the monster can continue to be used for a short while longer to inflict a little more pain.

Another variance in the fighting comes in the manner of having a support Pokémon on hand. This additional critter can be activated every so often to help out if a tight spot against an opponent has been nestled into. The choice between two support Pokémon is granted at the start of each battle, and while it is a nice touch, the selection is a little poor.

One of the few criticisms of Pokkén Tournament is that the developers have a plethora of Pokémon to choose from, but there are only 10 present and one of them is a clone! Some are seemingly obscure when considering any of the 720 Pokémon they could include. It's hoped that the roster, including the support Pokémon, will be expanded in the Wii U version of the game, or at least will include amiibo support to add in the Super Smash Bros. characters that are missing.

Screenshot for Pokkén Tournament on Arcade

Final Thoughts

With that said, for 100¥, this game is truly value for money. Strangely, it never seems that popular; there are people in the arcade, but nobody else has ever been seen playing it. That's crazy considering how popular other fighting games are in the same arcade. Is it worth getting excited about? Although not many people seem to be anticipating it, with some extra characters, this could be a surprise little gem on the Wii U.


Bandai Namco







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  n/a

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


I got to try this back at the Pokemon World Championships in Boston last August. It was pretty fun.

Here's a picture I took of the sign listing the move sets, in English, for anyone interested

Image for


That definitely helps me! Thanks! 

Good stuff Neil - it does sound pretty decent - I wonder if the lack of popularity could be down to the controller (though personally I love the fact they've given a standard controller over the stick).

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

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