One of my favorite aspects of fighting games has to be the rosters. Whether the fighters look stylish, have unique playstyles, or just stand out in some way, I’m always interested in who’s on the roster and how all the characters interact with each other. I’ve found Pokkén Tournament ’s roster to be one of the most interesting rosters in a while, both in terms of the character choices and due to the fact that Pokkén itself is an interesting twist on the fighting genre. With a total roster of sixteen Pokémon, it may be hard to pick one to start out with, so I figured I’d help out and tell you about three of my favorites.
The first Pokémon I picked after booting up the game was definitely a tough choice for me, but in the end I felt like I had to go with Charizard. Sure in the actual games I prefer the Squirtle family, but Charizard is just plain cool. Charizard is also powerful, especially in Pokkén. In this game, Charizard specializes in powerful attacks with longer reach than one might expect.
Playing as Charizard involves a surprising amount of aerial acrobatics considering how weighty he feels to control. Moving on the ground is slow and lumbering, but jumping up and entering into its flying stance allows you to cover ground very quickly. From there it’s easy to approach with fireballs, foot stomps, or a Flare Blitz directly into the ground. Once in close, Charizard has great moves for spacing out the opponent by Fire Punching through an attack or tripping the opponent with its tail.
Next up, Machamp in Pokkén Tournament is by far the coolest interpretation of a Pokémon I’ve ever seen in a spin-off. This Machamp feels like what would happen if Zangief from Street Fighter suddenly turned into a Pokémon. He pumps himself up, he’s got grabs, he even has the spinning lariat. Machamp’s fighting style revolves around getting right up in your opponent’s face and crushing them with a powerful offense.
When playing as Machamp, the two key components to keep in mind are staying close to your opponent and setting up for big damage. Machamp can shoot some energy fists from its hands if it’s at a distance, but their range isn’t great and all the big damage is saved for when he’s up close. When you’re at your sweet spot, Machamp can dominate with a combination of his grabs and lariat counter moves. Once you’ve landed a hit, Machamp is one of the easier Pokémon to figure out and perform combos with in order to pile on massive damage. Also worth keeping in mind is that Machamp can use Bulk Up to enhance its special moves, which can make an already devastating grab that much more deadly. Machamp’s combination of big hits and wrestler theatrics easily makes him one of the most satisfying characters to play.
For my final favorite Pokémon, we’re sticking with wrestlers but one with a completely different approach. Pikachu Libre caught my eye immediately and she’s (check the tail!) one of those characters you see on a select screen and just have to stop and admire. I’m not sure what series of events led this Pikachu to pick up wrestling, but I’m glad it did.
Pikachu Libre’s moves can quickly overwhelm its opponents with a mix of speed and status effects. Interestingly, Pikachu Libre’s success can be directly tied to the Phase Shifts. As long as Pikachu Libre instigates the shift with one of her attacks, she will automatically power herself up, boosting her attack or defense. To tip things further to her advantage, she also has an electric net attack that will lower her opponent’s speed. Since Pikachu Libre already starts out with high speed, landing the net can make it extremely difficult for an opponent to keep up.
One of my favorite Pikachu Libre moves is her Double Team. Part dodge move and part mind game, Pikachu Libre will make three clones of itself laid out in a row. The direction you hold (left, right, or nothing) will change which image is the real Pikachu Libre, meaning you can dodge attacks while making it unclear which direction you went. If you’re close enough, then Double Team can be cancelled straight into an attack giving a clear opening for attack. It’s a unique design for a move, and it can make your playstyle very tricky.
From my time playing, these three Pokémon stand out to me as my favorites, but they’re also the Pokémon I spent the most time playing as. With 16 characters total, I’m far from done exploring the entire roster fully. Whether or not you pick one of the Pokémon I like, however, I’m confident in saying that even with my shorter time with the rest there’s something to like about every Pokémon in the game.