Games: Pokken Tournament a rock-solid fighter that's as accessible as it is adorable
Pokken Tournament DX (Switch)
IN THE mid-90s, Tekken was the Buckfast and Wotsit-smeared jewel in every student's PlayStation collection, spinning proudly in Sony's new doo-dad as it brought arcade pugilism to the masses in a way not seen since Street Fighter. Full of bronzed, heavily inked meatheads, it was like Geordie Shore only entertaining (though in Geordie Shore, Tekken is a Liam Neeson film) and the only game where you could unleash barbaric violence on the most bloodthirsty of God's creatures – the panda.
With Pokken Tournament, all of Tekken's steroid-sweating roster has been replaced with super furry animals – in this case, the stars of Nintendo's Pokemon cash-cow (which, when you consider was a cutesy videogame version of cockfighting in the first place, makes perfect sense).
Pumped with yen in Japanese arcades, the game served as a last-gasp stop-gap for the beleaguered Wii U last year, but now comes to the uber-successful Switch heavy with enhancements, including five additional characters plus new online and local multiplayer options.
While Mario Odyssey will grab the Switch column inches in the coming weeks, Pokken is well worth a gander for Nintendo-ites aching to let the fur fly. Swelling to the original's roster are fan-favourites Darkrai, Scizor, Empoleon, Croagunk and Pokemon Sun and Moon's Decidueye while you can now play with a mate locally, either docked or in tabletop mode (using the Switch's dinky Joy-Con controllers) or online in three-on-three battles.
The bare-bones plot involves players heading to the Ferrum region and ranking up through the Red, Blue, Green and Chroma leagues, with each bout featuring two combat phases as long-range 3D battles switch to a traditional 2D view for close-range fisticuffs.
While hardly loaded with enough extras to warrant a double-dip for Wii U fans, the Switch's local versus is nonetheless a knockout move. And with Nintendo's newest pushing the polygons, crippling small animals has never looked so good.
Despite a spiritual gulf, Namco's button-spamming brawls transfer to Pokemon's one-on-one upmanship splendidly with a game that's as accessible as it is adorable. Catering to both thumbs short on years and joypad vets, Pokken manages to weave that old multi-generational Nintendo magic.
The meat n' spuds violence is hardly as technical as Tekken, while its solo campaign can be a repetitive grind for Billy No-Mates types. Still, the unholy lovechild of these franchise behemoths is a rock-solid fighter and another destined-to-be-forgotten gem given a new lick of life on Nintendo's newest.