A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pokkén Tournament DX is a fighting game. The action is built around combat -- this Nintendo Switch exclusive is about battling Pokémon -- but parents should know 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. This is also the latest game in the wildly popular franchise that covers everything from TV shows to merchandise and other games, and features support for amiibo, which can be bought separately.
What's it about?
POKKÉN TOURNAMENT DX is a portable action game that pits Pokémon characters against one another in epic arena fights. Your goal is to become the ultimate champion by mastering the various fighting styles and signature moves of more than 20 Pokémon -- including newcomers Croagunk, Scizor, Empoleon, Darkrai, and Decidueye -- and because it's on the portable Nintendo Switch platform, you can vie to become Ferrum League champion on the go or at home while docked with your TV, perhaps. Along with single-player options against the game's AI (artificial intelligence), new modes lets you challenge your friends in intense competitions, including Team Battle or Group Match modes (which allows you to battle friends in tournament-style play), and three-vs.-three and split-screen options. Plus, you can record and upload your favorite fights with the new replay feature (which is free until the paid Nintendo Switch online service launches in 2018).
Is it any good?
Both seasoned and newbie Pokémon players should get a lot out of the fun arena battles between these Pokémon characters -- and there's a nice assortment of modes available. That coupled with the fact that you can take this game to go makes Pokkén Tournament DX a stellar pick. That said, those who bought last year's Pokkén Tournament for Nintendo Wii U might not get as much out of this, as this Nintendo Switch game is essentially the same, except for a few more characters (and Mewtwo and Shadow Mewtwo being playable right from the start), a Daily Challenge mode, a three-vs.-three arena option, and a new online leaderboard. There's also split-screen local play, but we'll get to that in a moment. As with the Wii U version, this game is very accessible. It's a cinch to pick up using the JoyCon controllers -- 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 press. But you'll need more timing and multi-button skills once you want to take advantage of some advanced moves and chaining moves/combos. On the new content, the Daily Challenge mode is a nice addition, as you're given a specific Pokémon and assist team each day, and rewarded with some skill points you can redeem. But more interesting is the new three-vs.-three mode.
As a Pokémon trainer, you must decide who joins the fight and when, based on your Pokémon characters' skills and your opponent's strengths. Don't expect as much depth as other fighting games, of course, but for a Pokémon game, it's quite meaty in both the gameplay and game mode department (though it would be great to offer more Pokémon characters to choose from). One mode to pass on, though, is Split Screen, as the gameplay area is too small to look at (with large borders around the edges), and more importantly, the game slows down dramatically. Finally, Pokkén Tournament DX also looks great, which will be a treat for fans playing on the small screen or big screen. Between the high definition and smoothly animated characters, arena environments, and special effects, this is by far the best-looking Pokémon game to date. Overall, this fighting game is accessible and fun and has lots to do -- and having it portable is an extra treat.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. Is it OK to fight creatures against each other? Is it OK because there's no blood or gore shown?
Talk about marketing to kids. Are Nintendo and other publishers (in this case, Bandai Namco) marketing the same characters and games to kids in the hope they'll want their parents to buy them sight unseen? Or are these game makers and marketers trying to reinvent themselves?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Bandai Namco
- Release date: October 1, 2017
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Dinosaurs, Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, 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.