Pokken Tournament creators pushed hard for “really realistic” Pokémon

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Pokken

Pokken Tournament may have the hands behind the Tekken franchise behind it, but it also has the runaway DNA of the Pokémon franchise influencing how it plays, merging both traditional 2D, 3D and RPG mechanics to become a different kind of brawler. Beyond that unique style of play, it’s also got something else going for it: It looks rather pretty.

If you’ve seen Pokken Tournament in action, you might have noticed that this specific Pokémon game really pops. It’s bright, colourful and runs at a delicious 60 frames per second at all times. The Pokémon themselves also look quite stunning, and particularly realistic in a stylised manner that makes a Pikachu dressed in Lucha Libre garb an actual possibility.

And that’s an intentional bit of design, that co-developer Bandai Namco and producer Masaaki Hoshino pushed for. “With this game, one of the things I really wanted to do was represent the Pokémon in a really realistic style,” Hoshino, who also worked on the SoulCalibur series, said to Kotaku.

A graphical representation that’s really realistic. I had to really convince the staff working on the game, as well The Pokémon Company, to go in this direction.

He’s not lying. I’m busy with Pokken Tournament right now, and I can’t believe that the Wii U is capable of these visuals. Lucario’s fur bristles and moves with the wind. Machamp’s various muscles make him look like a Rob Liefield drawing come to life and Garchomp has a rough skin texture that ties into his dragon land-shark design.

It really is something to see these guys jump onto the screen, and something else to see various Pokémon land their signature moves in ways that look frightfully real. According to producer Katsuhiro Harada, there was one other challenge to developing Pokken Tournament: Bones. “It’s a simple thing that surprised me the most,” Harada said.

It’s a hidden element in the game. There are actually a few signature Tekken moves performed by the Pokémon in the game. And originally when I heard this idea [I thought] Tekken characters and Pokémon have totally different bone structures. I didn’t think they would fit at all.

Fortunately, Harada discovered that Tekken style moves “actually fit the Pokémon” really well. Pokken Tournament is out on March 18.

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Last Updated: March 3, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

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