Alright folks, let’s talk Pokémon.
If there’s a single topic that can turn sane, rational debates into a frothing fury, it’s Pokémon and how you play it. Not to sound like an old man here, but when I started, the topics for debate were if you were a cheating ass for playing a team of Psychic types crowned with a Mewtwo (you were), or if you could move that truck near the SS Anne and get a Mew (you couldn’t and why would a legendary super Pokémon be there in the first place?!). Nowadays, with IV’s, EV’s, breeding, tier lists and over seven hundred of the myriad magical creatures, it is physically impossible to express an opinion on Pokémon and not incite the rage of at least 30% of the fan base. Minimum.
Yet from the distant days of black and white graphics to today’s three dimensional extravaganzas, there has been one thing that unites us. A distant fire promising a timeless experience that we’ve dreamed of since the first cry of ‘Pika!’ on television. The holy grail of Pokémon. A honest to goodness Pokémon MMORPG. The stuff of Arthurian legend.
…yeah. that’s not happening. But we have the second holy grail instead in the shape of Pokken Tournament, an honest to goodness Pokémon fighting game.
Wrap your head around the idea that we had Pokémon Conquest, a crossover between Pokémon and Nobunaga’s Ambition of all things (excellent though it was) before we got a Pokémon fighting game. Now that you’ve done that, Pokken Tournament is the crossover between Pokémon and the Tekken fighting series. A sizeable portion of the budget must have been taken up on that name. Snark aside, Pokken is getting a limited arcade release in Japan soon, with limited information available to us at this time.
What we do know is that five fighters have been revealed so far, and not all of them are Fighting Pokémon. Besides the fairly obvious Machamp, and the inevitable Lucario, we have series mascot Pikachu, who is contractually obligated, and… Suicune, a Pokémon without hands, and Gardevoir, a Psychic Type of all things? Calling it now: Gardevoir – top tier.
Each Pokémon has four special moves that have been revealed so far. Will they have more or will they require clever usage like the fights in the anime? We don’t know yet. But an interesting addition reminds me a lot of Dissidia in the shape of support Pokémon. Support Pokémon have a recharge timer, making them more than a one-off, which is either going to involve a lot of strategy, or the tried and true chaos of Super Smash Bros.! Speaking as a hopeless case when it comes to combos, timing, skill or even basic competence (Imran’s videos on focus combos and other things are as good as arcane sorcery to me), I’m hoping for some chaos myself. And of course, you’ll have a super gauge tied into super attacks and – interestingly enough – Mega Evolutions, the game-shaping change to the Pokémon world brought into Generation Six. Will there be a story mode? Well, the soap opera-like dramatics of the modern fighting game (take a gander at the Mishima family tree at some point) suggest it’s likely. Though the subtle nuances of their tragic angst might lose something in the translation to ‘Pika pika, Pikachu!’ Though I would pay for a Devil Pikachu.
In the olden days I’d have called this a straight up license to print money, and Pokémon has regained a measure of the popularity it had before the zeitgeist cooled around Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire. I guess the best I can ask is that the modern industry don’t destroy our childhood dreams like an explosion-loving nameless director. At any rate, who else might show up in this extravaganza? You decide!