As we’ve previously reported, Bandai Namco and Nintendo are currently holding location tests for Pokken Tournament in Japan through February 1. Japanese outlet Game Watch attended the one being held at the Namco Lazona Kawasaki arcade and provided a detailed report on the current state of game and its systems, which we’ve summarized below.
Those of you who caught the archive of last week’s Famitsu tournament for the game have likely noticed this already, but the arcade game is controlled with a gamepad, which is shown above, rather than the traditional arcade-style stick and buttons. As is evident in the photo, the button layout is akin to ones employed in older systems like the Super Nintendo, while employing more modern ergonomic philosophies in terms of how its handles are designed. In all, the controller features a d-pad, four face buttons, A, B, X, and Y, which are ordered the same way as with the Super Nintendo, a Start button, and two triggers, L and R. Knowing that, the basic controls for the game are as follows:
- D-Pad: Character movement. Hitting a direction twice will perform a short step.
- Y Button: Weak attack.
- X Button: Strong attack.
- B Button: Jump.
- A Button: Pokemon Move.
- L Button: Summon Support Pokemon.
- R Button: Guard.
- L+R Buttons: Burst Mode. Press again during Burst Mode for a Burst Attack. (More details below.)
- Y+B Buttons: Grab.
- X+A Buttons: Block Attack. (More details below.)
Gameplay-wise, the basic objective is to reduce the opponent Pokemon’s HP, which is represented by the green horizontal bar with the number inside it, to 0. (Should a match time out, the Pokemon with more HP wins.) Whoever wins two rounds in this manner wins the overall match. Each player’s own stats are displayed in the lower-left corner of the screen, while their opponent’s appears in the upper-right portion. The fights themselves, meanwhile, are conducted across two distinct phases: Field Phase and Duel Phase.
Field Phase, which is shown in the above screenshots, depicts combat in a manner akin to the traditional Pokemon games in that each side sees their respective Pokemon from behind the back. In this phase, Y Button attacks are used for long distance attacks, while X Button ones are closer range homing ones designed to close the gap between Pokemon and build up combos. Long distance attacks can be dodged either by jumping or performing a step. The main point of this phase is distance management, which heavy importance being placed on players’ ability to read their opponent’s moves and know when to close in or stay away.
Though each round starts in the Field Phase, it can transition into the Duel Phase (pictured above) by landing certain attacks such grabs and a Pokemon’s Up+Y Button move. Doing so transitions the perspective to a horizontal plane resembling older-style arcade fighting games like Street Fighter and King of Fighters. Here, the rock-paper-scissors dynamic that exists between the three main move types that determines each types strength and weakness is of particular importance. The breakdown is as such:
- Normal attacks beat grabs.
- Grabs beat Block Attacks.
- Block Attacks beat normal attacks.
While the first two types are self-explanatory, Block Attacks are essentially a distinct type of guard that comes with an offensive bite to it. They can be used to block long range attacks and, in more technical terms, can also be canceled with a step.
Regardless, gameplay can revert from the Duel Phase back to the Field Phase by having certain attacks connect or as a result of a player landing a set number of combos. As such, Duel Phases are considered to be an ideal way to dish out a lot of damage in a short period of time.
Fighters are also capable of triggering a Burst Mode, which is achieved by filling up the circular bar that’s affixed to the player portrait on screen by dealing and taking attacks, as well as most ideally by successfully landing moves that cause Phase transitions, as such moves fill up the bar the fastest. During Burst Mode, a Pokemon receives significant buffs for a limited period of time as the Burst Gauge ticks down. They also have a one-time option of using a Burst Attack at this stage which, while avoidable, will trigger a special cutscene if successfully executed and deal major damage to the opposition.
As for the actual roster of playable Pokemon at the location test, five were available, listed below along with their general combat styles:
- Lucario: An all-around fighter with balanced offensive and defensive capabilities.
- Pikachu: Combines swift speed and powerful electrical attacks.
- Suicune: A defensive character that specializes in keeping opponents at bay with myriad long range moves.
- Machamp: Extremely powerful in close-quarters combat.
- Gardevoir: A tricky technical character that likes to mess around with opponents with flashy moves
Pulling off special moves with each Pokemon is a simple affair, simply requiring that a direction be held down whilst pressing a button a la Super Smash Bros. The types of moves that they can perform in this manner include long and short range attacks, anti-air moves, rushdowns, grabs, and more.
Each Pokemon fighter is also backed up by a team of two Support Pokemon, which are picked in preset pairs. Once a pair is picked, one is actually selected to participate at the start of each round. For this location test, six such Pokemon are available to try out. Each Support Pokemon specializes in providing a specific type of one-off assistance that broadly fall into three different categories: Attack, Interference, and Buff.
After using a Support Pokemon, a recharge period is imposed before they can be sent out again, signified by their darkened portrait lighting up in clockwise chunks, with the recharge speed varying among each Support Pokemon. Naturally, picking the right one can make or break a player’s prospects. Here’s the list of Support Pokemon that are playable, along with their accompanying move that they use when brought out:
- Emolga: Uses Shock Wave as a long distance attack to slow down the opponent’s speed.
- Snivy: Uses Leaf Tornado as an anti-air attack to maintain distance
- Frogadier: Uses Water Pulse to fire off discs of water from afar.
- Fennekin: Uses Ember as a multi-stage, dome-shaped area attack.
- Lapras: Uses Surf as a wide horizontal rush attack to deal major damage.
- Eevee: Uses Helping Hand to temporarily buff attack power and heal HP.
Pokken Tournament remains slated for a Japanese arcade release sometime during 2015.
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