Introduction to Pokken
Part Tekken, part Pokémon, and part Super Smash Brothers, Pokkén Tournament takes elements from plenty of fighters you know and creates a brawler you've definitely never seen before. Even with its focus on moves and special attacks designed for regular console controllers (rather than those coded with arcade sticks in mind), Pokkén Tournament can still be a bit of daunting prospect for new players.
Now with Pokkén Tournament finally on Wii U, we bring you ten tips and tricks to help you absorb the basics of battle and become a Pokémon brawling champion.
1. Start thinking Rock, Paper, Scissors
Rather than use a traditional fighting system where any move can be dealt and countered (think Street Fighter V or Tekken 7), Pokkén Tournament instead ops for a rock, paper, scissors style 'triangle' system that seemingly turns every bout into a tactical exchange of counters.
The key is knowing which moves trump which. In Pokkén Tournament, the following rules apply - Normal Attacks counter Grab Attacks, Grab Attacks in turn beat Counter Attacks and Counter Attacks always outdo Normal Attacks. Be patient and watch your opponent's style - if they favour a certain kind of move, be ready with the right counter.
2. Know your Support Pokémon
There are 16 playable Pokémon to select as your main competitor in a Pokkén Tournament bout (with Garchamp and MewTwo added as Wii U-exclusives), but there are also 30 non-playable Poké stars that can be chosen to support your bare-knuckle efforts. These less powerful creatures always come in pairs, so choose the Pokémon that suit your chosen fighter and overall playstyle.
At the start of each round you have to select one of these Pokémon to use, and each one offers a certain type of move that can have a profound effect on the course of the match. When you press L to activate your support character, they will either perform an Attack (causes damage), Disrupt (causes damage and confusion) or Enhance (which boosts your stats).
3. Get all Tekken with combos
Just because Pokkén Tournament uses the 'triangle' move system doesn't mean it's a simple case of chance with zero skill required. Yes, the move combinations aren't as deep as Tekken, but the same principles apply - string your moves together in combos to maximise damage and end a round swiftly and decisively.
Use grabs and counters to join strings of punches and kicks together before you hit your Synergy Gauge. If you've got a Mega Evolution packed in there as well, apply the same strategy and aim for groups of moves rather than single hits. With your stats boosted you'll overwhelm your opponent in no time.
4. Don't discount the tutorials
Yes, we know you want to jump straight into career mode or test your mettle online but like any good fighting game, if you ignore the tutorials then you're setting yourself up for a shameful beating. Much like Street Fighter V, using the tutorials won't just teach new players the basic moves, controls and rules, but also offer those returning from the arcade version a chance to reacquaint themselves with the nuance of each Pokkén fighter.
Best thing to do: test a handful of characters from the roster and get a feel for each one's speed, range of attacks and Burst Attacks. Same goes for the Support Pokémon - test out combinations and you'll soon find the right fit for you.
5. Build your Synergy Gauge for Synergy Burst mode
When your Synergy Gauge is full you can activate Burst mode, which turns your Pokémon fighter into a souped-up version packing plenty of extra punch. Your character will have all of their stats buffed during this time period so you can move that little bit faster and deal plenty more damage - so make sure you rush your opponent and make the most of this buff before it runs out.
Some characters, such as Gengar, will also Mega Evolve during Burst mode making them even more powerful so don't give your foe any room to manoeuvre or recover.
6. The Support Gauge can turn matches
First of all, play through the entire career mode to unlock as many of the 15 Support Pokémon pairs as possible - the more of them you have (especially when you journey into online battles), the better. Once you do pick a pair, and select which of the two you'll take into that round, the next stage is all about knowing when you to use your chosen backup.
Keep in mind that a Support Pokémon doesn't work like an additional creature in the Pokémon series or a partner in Tekken Tag Tournament; they offer a single powerful move each time they're summoned. Many of these attacks are all based on proximity so be smart and use them after a combo when your opponent is reeling.
7. Use your stances like a pro
When flying about in the Powerstone-esque Field Phase, it's all about using speed to collect energy or zoning in for ranged or melee attacks - but when you go through a Phase Shift and enter the Duel Phase it's all about using your position to gain an advantage. That's where we come to the subject of stances.
Every Pokémon on the Pokkén Tournament roster has a high and low stance, and each one favours dealing with certain types of opponent. The low stance is ideal for dealing with grounded Pokémon with lower ground clearances, while the high one works well against aerial types. Simply press down or up on the D-pad to enter either position.
8. Get aggressive in Duel Phase
As we mentioned earlier, knowing how to use the two phases to your advantage is the key to winning big in Pokkén Tournament. Duel Phase is the second section of a round and sees the two Pokémon square off in a 2D plane similar to Tekken or Street Fighter.
This stage is all about getting up close and personal, so know the strengths of your character's moveset and get in close for maximum damage. Mix up combos with Burst Attacks to stun your opponent, then juggle them into submission. Use simple combos, such as two-button grabs, to pile up that damage.
9. Use Field Phase for ranged attacks
Each round is split into two distinct phases of gameplay - the first, Field Phase, is a ranged affair where each fighter starts on either side of the arena. From here you can either use ranged attacks to take chunks out of your opponents or zone in quickly for more powerful attacks up close.
Keep in mind that there's no specific time limit on this first phase - some moves and Critical Hits actively shift the round into Duel Phase so the change could happen at any time. Also remember to keep collecting energy littered around the arena to boost your Synergy Bar, too.
10. Play smart and keep moving
Playing aggressively will do you well in the earlier sections of the career mode and your first forays into the online component, but as you come up against more experienced AI and players, you'll need to start mixing things up and playing smart. Dodging and blocking are two of your most useful moves and each one, if used correctly, will pay dividends in either the Field or Duel Phases.
Time your dodges right in the first phase and you can sidestep attacks early on and get collecting those energy-filled gems. Blocks play a big deal in Tekken and they're just as vital here - if your opponent is about to spool into the start of a combo, block to take off the edge.