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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pokken Tournament is built around combat -- essentially the entire game is about battling Pokémon -- but it's not graphic or realistic in nature. Characters can kick, slash and use magic attacks to defeat an opponent. There are some cries of pain, but the opponents aren't hurt or killed. There aren't really any role models or specific characters that you play as either -- you're essentially a trainer using your monsters to fight others. This is also the latest title in the wildly popular Pokemon franchise, so you might expect some interest in the other titles or properties for fans of the game.
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What's it about?
POKKÉN TOURNAMENT is an action-heavy battle game that pits Pokémon characters against one another in epic area fights. Your goal is to become the ultimate champion by mastering the various fighting styles and signature moves of familiar Pokémon -- including Pikachu, Charizard, Lucario, Machamp, Pikachu Libre (a wrestling champ), and many more -- plus you can call upon support Pokémon to assist with damaging moves to KO your opponent. Much of the action is divided into two parts: a Field Phase, where players use ranged attacks to attack opponents from a distance. It's a simple but effective way to engage in turn-based battles, with offensive and defensive moves at your disposal. The second part of combat, Duel Phase, is more melee-focused, which leverages Bandai Namco's experience in fighting games, like Tekken. Along with multiple solo and multiplayer modes, included in the box is an amiibo card, which unlocks Shadow Mewtwo when gamers use the Wii U GamePad to read the card -- but only after you've earned the right to use the new fighter.
Is it any good?
It's fair to say Pokémon fans have been waiting years for a game like this -- one that allows you to battle between Pokémon up close and personal, like your favorite Tekken or Street Fighter franchise. First of all, Pokkén Tournament looks great, which will be a treat for fans. Between the high-definition and smoothly-animated characters, arena environments, and special effects, this is by far the best-looking Pokémon games to date. Secondly, the game is very accessible. It's a cinch to pick up -- even for those who haven't played a fighting game previously -- yet the combat still has enough depth for more experienced and/or demanding players. For example, most special moves -- which are unique to your Pokémon -- can be performed with a single button. But you'll need more timing and multi-button skills once you want to take advantage of some advanced moves and chaining moves/combos.
Worth noting are the special Pokémon you can summon if and when you need it, cinematic "Bursts" attacks to inflict damage on opponents, and multiple stages and modes to keep the gameplay fresh, along with support for amiibo characters and cards. A limited number of Pokémon -- only about 16 -- may be the only beef players might have with this new game. With many, many hundreds of Pokémon available after 20 years, it's too bad this game only focuses on a few. But still, Pokkén Tournament wont disappoint fans of the franchise and new players, too. It's fun, feels fresh, and offers a lot of accessible yet challenging gameplay.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about marketing to kids. Has Nintendo (or in this case, Bandai Namco), created enough titles out of the Pokémon franchise? Should Nintendo move on and create new franchises or continually go back to the same characters and gameplay mechanics? Are games like this purely a shameless marketing play for the franchise overall?
Talk about violence in games. Is the violence in Pokemon games acceptable because the fighting and creatures are clearly unrealistic, or is it disturbing because you have creatures fighting each other for sport?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo of America
- Release date: March 16, 2016
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Space and Aliens, Wild Animals
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.