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The Pop Culture Wing of Hot Corner Harbor

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Best Pokémon Missing from Pokkén Tournament DX

I’ve been playing a decent amount of Pokkén Tournament DX for the Switch as of late. Fighting games aren’t always my jam, but I’ve found myself liking it a lot so far, which maybe isn’t surprising given my love for Pokémon as a series. And given that love of Pokémon, I have some opinions on the roster that was chosen for the game. Granted, the roster as it is isn’t bad or anything. At 807 total species in the series, narrowing it down to about 20 is a difficult task, and the 21* that were included in the game do as good a job as any others.

*Well, 19. Two of the characters, Pikachu Libre and Shadow Mewtwo, are variations of other Pokémon already on the roster. So they don’t really widen the total scope of species represented, even if they are unique characters in their own right.

But at the same time…since DX is a port of an earlier game, a part of me hoped it would include a couple of new choices to expand the roster into at least the mid-20s. Instead, we basically just got one new character (plus four others that were in the arcade version but not the Wii U one). It would have been nice to have seen a little more added in to this updated version*

*I didn’t really play the original version all that much, so I feel like I can’t complain too much since it’s all new to me either way. But still.

There’s still hope, of course, in the way of things like downloadable content, but there’s been no news on that front. Given all of that, I assembled a list of my thoughts on the most notable Pokémon omitted from Pokken Tournament DX’s playable roster.


Jigglypuff and Greninja
First, let’s start with the two obvious ones. Pokkén isn’t the first fighting game series to feature Pokémon as characters: you may have heard about this little series called “Smash Bros”. While Jigglypuff and Greninja weren’t the only choices to make the latter and not the former, they were probably the most notable omissions. Jigglypuff started as something of a joke addition to the original Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 64, but it’s gone on to be in every version of the game since then. You can definitely see reasons to include it, too; Jigglypuff is popular, would be the only normal type on the roster, and could contribute an especially aerial style of play that Pokkén Tournament DX doesn’t have much of, making it stand out.

Greninja seems much more in line with the rest of the Pokkén roster, with its design drawing heavily on a type of warrior (ninjas, duh) and a reasonably large fanbase, especially being a starter. On top of that, it’s a relatively recent Pokémon, being introduced in Generation VI, something that’s surprisingly underrepresented in the game.



Hawlucha
This is maybe the only exclusion that actually baffled me. With the last two exclusions, you could easily explain it away as Pokkén wishing to establish its own voice, independent of the influence of its massive predecessor. Hawlucha doesn’t carry that problem. It carries an incredibly unique design that is, like Greninja, directly inspired by a form of fighting (lucha libre). Both flying type Pokémon and Generation VI are underrepresented in the game’s roster (again, more on that shortly). It looks awesome. I can’t think of a reason against it, but instead, Pokkén decided to go with a second Pikachu that’s wearing a lucha libre costume.



Blastoise

This would be a play directly into nostalgia, positioning the Pokémon Blue cover star directly against its Pokémon Red counterpart Charizard (who did make the game). I also feel like given Blastoise’s water cannons and shell, it could bring it’s own unique style to the game, focusing on ranged attacks and heavy defense. The biggest concern might be too many Generation I representatives in the game already, but it’s arguably not even the most represented (5 unique species versus Generation IV’s 6), despite being arguably the most influential and inarguably the second largest in terms of new Pokémon introduced.

You could throw Venusaur in here if you wanted to as well (especially given the original pairing being Red and Green versions instead of Blue), but it might be a little harder to fit in. Sure, they put a quadruped on the roster already in Suicune, and Ivysaur was in Super Smash Bros Brawl, but it would definitely be a little more awkward than Blastoise (as Brawl itself demonstrated), so if you were worried about oversaturing Pokkén with the original generation of Pokémon, I’d go with Blastoise first.



Hitmontop
The Hitmon line is a fan favorite, and Hitmontop is far-and-away the most unique member. As an added bonus, it would add to Generation II's representation, which only consists of Scizor and Suicune as is despite being arguably the most influential and maybe best-remembered games in the series. Hitmontop would obviously carry a unique sense of movement given its ability to travel like a top, could maybe make greater use of the different stances than any fighter in the game, and would certainly provide a totally new experience no matter what.



Heracross

While we’re on the subject of popular fighting Pokémon from Generation II, it’s a little strange that Heracross didn’t make an appearance. It’s actually based on a real-life beetle that’s used in insect-fighting (which is also a real thing, apparently), and has a name that’s inspired by a Greek demigod famed for his strength (Herakles/Hercules). And it’s not like the game was overflowing with Bug types, with only Scizor present.*

*Ice, Ground, Flying, Bug, Dragon, and Fairy each only got 1 representative, while Rock and Normal got none.


Generations V, VI, and VII
As I’ve been alluding to throughout this piece, Pokkén’s breakdown across the generations of Pokémon games isn’t anywhere close to even. The three most recent generations, which total 314 species (nearly two-fifths of the total) and represent every new Pokémon that debuted in the past decade, contribute a total of 3 picks to the roster.

It’s not like they lack for solid choices, either. I’ve already mentioned two Generation VI options in this article in Greninja and Hawlucha, plus other unique possibilities like Tyrantrum (who wouldn't want to play as a T-rex in a fighting game?) and Aegislash (if they could do a haunted chandelier, a haunted sword and shield should be no problem).

Generation V has (in my opinion) the overall strongest design of any single generation in the series and is overflowing with with strong candidates, including but not limited to: the samurai-otter hybrid Samurott; the enchanted golem/superhero Golurk; the large electric spider Galvantula; the swordsman Bisharp; the legendary technology-enhanced prehistoric bug Genesect; and the three-headed dragon Hydreigon.

Generation VII has it’s own set of interesting choices. There's the first fighting-type psuedo-legendary in Kommo-O, and the intimidatingly-designed Golisopod. And if you like bizarre monster designs that would fit perfectly, it's hard to top new legendary Buzzwole, an extradimensional mosquito-like being with the jacked physique of a wrestler.

There's no way you could include all of these Pokémon, but it's frustrating they didn't even try two or three of them.



Pseudo-Legendaries
Of all of the groups of Pokémon to be underrepresented, the “Psuedo-legendary” class might be the most surprising. The pseudo-legends are rare, powerful, frequently part dragon-type, one-per-generation evolutionary lines (with one exception), and usually become one of the biggest hits of their respective games for all of those reasons. Yet only Garchomp made it into the final version of Pokkén as a playable character (Dragonite is a support Pokémon as well). I’ve already mentioned Hydreigon and Komm-o as possibilities in the last selection, and I think Tyranitar is also a strong choice, but really, any of these ones would work. In the end, I guess it’s good the developers didn’t lean too heavily on any one category like this, but if you were adding a handful of extra Pokémon to the DX version, at least one more pseudo-legendary seems like a strong choice.



Legendaries

DX’s roster has probably the right balance of legendary Pokémon to regular ones, at four out of 21 (counting both Mewtwos); while they are usually popular due to their status and power, you wouldn’t want them to overwhelm the roster. But if you were including a few more characters, probably one or two of them should be legendaries.

I already mentioned Genesect and Buzzwole back in the Generation V-VII section, but there are a few other options as well. One of the Titans (Regirock, Regice, Registeel, or Regigigas) would work well; they’re humanoid, big and tough, and could focus on defense. And as a bonus, Rock, Ice, and Normal (Regigigas’s type) have 0, 1, and 0 representatives, respectively, allowing them to cover even more types. And something like Deoxys was long speculated to make Smash Bros, and it’s transforming could make for an interesting playstyle.

Alternatively, they could go with something unexpected and pick one of the smaller legendaries. In my mind, Celebi stands out as a fun option, getting to see how it’s time travel/control powers work.



Honorable Mentions
Everyone’s going to have their personal favorites, but I had to narrow it down somehow. There were a bunch that I thought about including that would be interesting in small ways, but couldn’t write a unique-enough full blurb for, like Poliwrath, Gallade, Abomasnow, Swampert, Ampharos, Shiftry, and Breloom. Every species, in the end, is pretty well designed, and it’s not hard to see how they could fit into a game like Pokkén.

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