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Pokken Tournament to Kick Off in March

By Quinten Plummer
Jan 18, 2016 12:09 PM PT

Nintendo last week announced that Pokkén Tournament will be available worldwide for Wii U on March 18.

The Pokémon-themed fighting game, developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo, will retail for US$60.

For the first production run of Pokkén Tournament copies, Nintendo is tossing in a Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card. When used with a Wii U gamepad, the amiibo card will unlock Shadow Mewtwo as a playable character.

This year, the 20th anniversary of Pokémon, also will see the release of Pokémon GO, an augmented reality game for mobile, and classic Pokémon games on the Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo eShop on Feb. 27 will release Pokémon Red, Blue and Yellow for the 3DS. It will be priced at $10.

The Popular Vote

Pokkén Tournament was developed with Pokémon fans as a priority, rather than those who simply like fighting games, according to Bandai Namco, which also developed the arcade staple Tekken series.

Pokkén Tournament, however, isn't going directly after casual gaming fans, noted Mike Schramm, manager of qualitative insights at EEDAR.

"Pokkén Tournament seems targeted at the core to hard-core audience around Pokémon and should make a good addition to the competitive side of the 'Gotta catch em all' empire," he told TechNewsWorld. "The game also connects up fairly well with the more competitive side of the Super Smash Bros. audience, featuring familiar characters in a fighting game setting."

Targeting core gamers might be a good thing, but it could be a negative to the more casual crowd of Pokémon gamers who are more interested in collecting than competing, according to Schramm.

"It's unlikely that Pokkén Tournament will be received as well or as widely as a more traditional Pokémon game, but given that this year is the 20th anniversary of the series, we would expect to see a lot of other releases to fit those other audiences (including the re-release of the original games, already announced, and probably more announcements coming)," he said.

See You, Wii U

It won't be the swan song of the Wii U, which has underperformed over its life. The Legend of Zelda Wii U appears poised to wave the Wii U off into the setting sun.

Every moment is important for Nintendo, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"Nintendo is struggling for relevance, so anything like this that gets people talking about the platform or one of their game properties in a positive way helps them in this regard," he told TechNewsWorld. "This is one of a diminishing number of properties that still can pull significant interest and likely will form the foundation of any eventual turnaround."

If gamers lost interest in games' fresh takes on old franchises, Nintendo would "truly be done," Enderle said.

"Pokkén Tournament should hit its core audience well," said Schramm, "but more casual fans are likely hoping for more news from the franchise over the rest of the year."

Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.

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