What We Learned from Friday’s Pokkén Tournament Live-Stream

One of the bigger surprises from the Pokemon franchise last year wasn’t the Ruby/Sapphire remakes, but the announcement of Pokkén Tournament. The arcade-exclusive developed by Bandai Namco’s Tekken team was announced last August, but we’ve heard very little about it since. On January 23rd, however, Monthly Famitsu launched a live-stream that cracked open Pokkén Tournament like a nut, revealing new fighter Pokemon, stages, and the game’s unique controller.

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Pikachu, Gardevoir, and surprise choice Suicune are among the Pokemon confirmed as playable, joining the likes of Machamp and Lucario. In addition, players will get a Support Pokemon to aid in your battles. Pokemon like Emolga, Fenniken, Snivy, and even Lapras have been shown so far. Mega Evolutions have been confirmed as special attacks, as per Lucario and Gardevoir’s own Mega Forms.

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As for the machine you’ll be playing on, producer Katsuhiro Harada revealed the controls for Pokkén Tournament, and they look very familiar. The control pad, two per machine, look very similar to a Super NES pad rather than a traditional arcade stick and buttons. The ubiquity of this controller should easily facilitate a home port. More surprisingly, the arcade machine not only has local multiplayer, but online play as well.

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So how did Bandai Namco get their hands on such a profitable Nintendo franchise? Well, it wasn’t through their work on Super Smash Bros. recently, but through an idea of Pokemon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara. Katsuhiro Harada explained that Ishihara was speaking with Bandai Namco regarding music licensing for Taiko Drum Master, when he pitched the idea of a Pokemon fighting game similar to Tekken. Since he has no prior experience with fighters, he said he’s been spending a lot of time on the project.

Pokkén Tournament certainly has come a long way since its tease in late-2013, and it is expected to launch in Japanese arcades sometime in 2015. A North American release, much less a Wii U port, has not been announced at this time. In the meantime, here’s an archive of the Famitsu live-stream if you want to see the game in action.

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