Pokken Tournament is one of the most “no-brainer” video games I’ve ever seen. We’ve been playing Pokemon and watching the anime for over 20 years now, and it isn’t until now that we have a game that actually captures the dynamic and intense fighting style that exists in the show. Overall, it’s one of the better and more unique games that you can get on the Wii U, and it’s a ton of fun as well. It makes you wonder why it didn’t get released years ago.
Like every fighting game ever, Pokken Tournament has a roster of characters to choose from that usually rank on a tier list; despite how balanced they attempt to make a game. I should take this opportunity to say that the only game that I’ve ever seen that was so incredibly balanced that a tier list was almost irrelevant was Soul Calibur 2.
Perhaps the only gripe I have about Pokken Tournament to this day is that its roster is awfully small. And when I say small, I’m talking only 16 different fighters in the Wii U version and 19 for the arcade version (with #20 on the way). For some reason the new characters haven’t made it to the Wii U yet. Regardless, these different characters can be ranked and some are much better than others.
Get your Gamepads ready as you read this list, cause you’re about to find out who the top 15 fighters in Pokken Tournament are. For the purpose of this list, we are excluding the arcade-only characters.
Coming in at the lowest spot on our list is Garchomp. Arguably one of the coolest Pokemon to come out of Gen IV, Garchomp has been a staple for Dragon type users for many years now. He has a slick design, a viable moveset, and a Mega Evolution to boot, so it’s easy to understand why he was included in Pokken Tournament. However, despite his prominence in the actual Pokemon games, Garchomp isn’t top tier in this one. His lack of decent speed makes him a fairly easy target for other swift attackers like Weavile and Pikachu, and his overall stats don’t do him a lot of favors either. As a matter of fact, he is one of the least-used fighters in the competitive scene to date, having only a small number of people that actually declare him as their main. Many of his attacks are also structured a bit weird, because they’re not simple attacks and can instead function as alternatives to his grabs and other moves. Don’t let this discourage you, though, Garchomp still has enough strength to take on tougher opponents. Couple that with his terrifying Mega Evolution, and if played correctly, Garchomp could make a lot of other players tremble when they fight you.
As much as it pains me to put one of my favorite Pokemon so low on this list, I have to remain objective about it. In Super Smash Bros. (Wii U/3DS), Charizard isn’t very fast but hits hard enough (especially with Flare Blitz) to make anyone play at the top of their game. When it comes to Pokken Tournament though, he’s not quite as good. Charizard is fairly easy to counter thanks to his lumbering movements and is fairly predictable. What makes matters even worse for this Fire Lizard is that he also plays well when he’s up close and personal. While that would normally be fine, Charizard doesn’t move fast enough to be viable for that kind of strategy. Other faster Pokemon are going to run circles around him, and anyone with better ranged attacks is going to set him back. Charizard does have his flamethrower attack, which does a good amount of damage, and when he does get up close he can bring the pain well. I would also say that his Mega Evolution and Burst Attack also punish foes, but that pretty much goes for about every character in this game.
This is a ranking that surprised me a bit. Blaziken is a decently fast and powerful fighter, with enough overall stats to make him a force to be reckoned with. However, after a closer look at this Hoenn starter, I realized why he scored a bit lower in the rankings. A lot of Blaziken’s most powerful attacks, such as Hi Jump Kick, Brave Bird, and Blaze Kick deal a lot of good damage, but also damage Blaziken himself. As such, this fighter requires a bit more skill to actually be competitively viable. That’s three attacks that come with a recoil penalty, and if you don’t know how to properly land or combo them, you’ll find yourself in a tough spot very early on in the fight. He does a number of other attacks that don’t damage him, but you’ll need to be smart if you want to utilize his entire moveset. Earlier in the game, Blaziken was a bit more useful to play because his Burst Attack would actually break the opponents’ guard on impact, but since that was later patched out, it looks like this fire/fighting type will forever remain on the lower end of the Pokken Tournament food chain.
Speaking of big jumps between the standard Pokemon games and Pokken Tournament, Gengar comes next on this list. His Mega Evolution when X and Y were released was so good that it was largely considered unbalanced. However, I think Game Freak didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. Gengar in Pokken Tournament is not the bottom of the barrel by any means. In other words, he’s not outright bad. As a matter of fact, because he is a technical fighter, Gengar has some useful positioning that allows him to avoid a good number of low and high attacks. When it Mega Evolves, it can even deal some of the greatest damage in the entire game! So why is Gengar lower on the list? Well, for starters, its HP is awfully low, having the second lowest total in the entire game (tied with Chandelure). As such, if people can find an opening, you’re basically already down for the count. When the game first came out, Gengar was actually one of the best, but he got a hard nerf that dropped his HP really low and made his moves a little less effective. That’s why he’s on the lower end of things.
Coming in at the next spot is the other Hoenn starter in the game. Sceptile was arguably the coolest grass starter until Gen VII, and because of the addition of a new Mega Evolution in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it was all but confirmed that Treecko’s final form would be included in Pokken Tournament. The first speed type on this list, Sceptile hits fast and hits hard. Unfortunately, Sceptile is the slowest speed-based character, and due to his relatively bigger size, is a bit more of a target than others like Pikachu. Despite being slow for a fast character, Sceptile does pack a bit more punch than most speed characters. He can also lay down some Bullet Seeds that will grow and deal some damage to his opponents. While he has some good balancing on paper, the way his speed and power are distributed make him more of an in-between character as opposed to being purely speed or all-around. As such, he gets outclassed by fighters that have more focus in their builds and movesets. Granted, he isn’t a bad character; he could just use some fine tuning.
10. Pikachu Libre
The most surprising inclusion in Pokken Tournament was easily Pikachu Libre. After all, Pikachu was already making it into the game, why not just make the Libre variant an alternate costume of sorts? (Although Pokken isn’t exactly known for its excellence in fighter costumes). Anyway, whether we wanted it or not, Pikachu Libre is in the game. Like it’s original form, Pikachu Libre is a speed type and has some good combo potential to her vastly different moveset. However, working against her is the fact that she is a bit difficult to play and understand, so unless you’re really good with her, you shouldn’t use her. Also, she has some serious weaknesses that prevent her from performing exceptionally in battle. She does have some really good moves at her disposal, but they don’t do a lot of damage. Furthermore, she used to be much better. However, in the 1.3 update she got a hard nerf that lessened her potency and combo potential overall. The length of her Synergy was also reduced. It does say something that she is still mid-range on this list despite getting a lot of her capability taken away overnight.
Now we’re starting to move up in the mid-range section. Coming next is another technical fighter: the Psychic/Fairy type, Gardevoir. Since her debut in Ruby and Sapphire, Gardevoir has always been a rock solid choice for many teams. With her getting a Mega Evolution after X and Y, though, it only made her better. In Pokken Tournament, her skills also ring through the competition. She is more of a technical fighter like Gengar, utilizing a unique and excellent moveset to take her opponents. Her best feature is that while in her High Stance, she slowly recovers her Health. Couple that with her skills in ranged attacks, and if you keep your opponents at a distance for long enough, you could easily turn the battle in your favor. On the other hand her biggest downside is the fact that she relies so heavily on ranged attacks. If a speedy character like Pikachu Libre or close-range fighter like Charizard gets too close, she’s in for a terrible world of hurt. The best strategy for her is to keep your opponents far away, but if they get close, use Psyshock and cause and shift to Duel Phase. That way, you’re less susceptible to combos and powerful attacks.
Along with Garchomp, Lucario was the biggest contender for coolest Gen IV Pokemon. There is a lot to love about Lucario from his design to his movepool (including the introduction of Aura Sphere). This character is also well-known for fighting in a way that is reminiscent of martial arts. In Pokken Tournament, he is one of the most fair and balanced characters in the entire game. Nobody will be screaming “hacks” while you’re playing this fighter. He is an all-around fighter with good coverage for multiple styles of battle. Fighting a Gardevoir that’s trying to keep you at a distance? Take her down with Aura Sphere. Have a Charizard that’s trying to get up close and personal? Whip out Bone Rush to punish that mistake. Furthermore, Lucario also has the potential to break counters and guards, giving him a bit of utility in battle. Then there’s his Burst Mode which changes him into Mega Lucario to deal even more amounts of damage. There’s not much else to say about Lucario other than he’s one of the most solid options to choose, even despite the fact that he got a bit nerfed in the 1.3 patch.
Coming next on the list is the yellow mascot himself, Pikachu. Whereas Pikachu Libre is more of a speed fighter, Pikachu is labeled as “standard.” However, after playing a few rounds with Pikachu, I’d probably classify him in the speed category. Pikachu is fast, punishing, and is very balanced, just like Lucario (he’s had a mixture of buffs and nerfs over the various updates). Despite being such a little creature, Pikachu has the fourth highest HP count in the entire game, ensuring that he’ll be able to take a hit. This Pikachu ranks a bit higher than his Libre counterpart solely because he has more potential when it comes to the overall battle. Much like Lucario, Pikachu has good options for every situation. When in Field mode, Pikachu can send out an effective projectile attack. When in Dual Mode, Pikachu can pull off some quick but devastating combos. Pikachu’s moveset is a bit more complex than Lucario’s though, utilizing a bit more “off the wall” attacks than normal. As such, he is a bit harder to play, but the time spent is worth it. Pikachu is an all-around good fighter to pick up, and opponents are going to think twice before taking on an amazing Pikachu player.
My personal favorite fighter in Pokken Tournament is this little guy right here. I knew immediately once I saw that Weavile was in the game that he would play off of speed and punishing, and boy was I right. Weavile is a deadly character to go up against in the game for multiple reasons. The first is that he dodges really well. Basically, if someone uses one move that takes just a hair too long, you simply dodge, then go in for a powerful combo. Second, he has a few moves that allow him to break through counters, and that’s a helpful feature indeed (he also has a counter at his disposal too). Finally, Weavile also has a decent amount of utility in the form of ice platforms. In mid-air, he can create a platform to stand on and launch himself from. This can easily disrupt the flow of your opponent’s battle strategy as you go in for the kill. He is one of the fastest characters in the game, but despite that, his moves aren’t the weakest of the lot. He’s a little less balanced than some people would like, but you can’t deny that he’s one awesome character.
When Pokken Tournament was first announced and everyone was speculating who would make it, never once did I see anyone predict the inclusion of Chandelure. After all, it was theorized that the game would only make use of bipedal creatures and maybe the occasional quadruped. No one saw this coming. What’s even more surprising is that Chandelure is good. Not just decent or balanced, but good. Chandelure is power-based, so you know he is going to deal a lot of damage. Unfortunately, he has the second lowest HP in the game, so it’s important that you bring the pain before someone else does it to you. What makes Chandelure so good is his ability to break through blocks and counters with every single attack. If done correctly, this will leave your opponent open for all kinds of deadly combos. To make matters even worse (or better, depending on which side you’re on), Chandelure even has ranged attacks in order to stop foes in their tracks at a distance before moving in for the kill. There isn’t a lot to dislike about Chandelure- his only downside is that he can’t take a lot of damage.
Braixen is one question that I don’t feel I will ever have answered. Why would they include the middle evolution of a starter lineup as opposed to just opting for Delphox? Why didn’t they put Greninja in the game? Questions aside, Braixen is another fighter that left some scratching their heads. However, after seeing how she plays, it makes sense as to why she was included. Braixen is modeled after a witch, and they really played with that idea in the game. Braixen is best at range and deals powerful attacks to drop someone’s health before they even get to you. However, you may feel throughout the fight that you’re not doing enough damage. Not to worry! Braixen can increase the damage on her melee and ranged attacks. While her ranged attacks deal more damage, it’s always nice to know that you have some close range options to fall back on. Her trusty torch can also be transformed into a whip that will make even a Garchomp think twice before attempting to get the drop on you. She’s definitely on the higher end of fighters in Pokken Tournament, and it’s not hard to see why.
Much like Chandelure and Pikachu Libre, Suicune was a little more “off the wall” than some of the other fighters in Pokken Tournament. However, Suicune isn’t impractical or anything; it is just really random. Out of all the legendaries, they pick one of the three dogs from Gen II. I’m not knocking their decision by any means, I just think it’s totally random. That said, Suicune is an excellent fighter in the game. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with the fact that it fights on four legs as opposed to two, but either way, Suicune is a beast. Much like Braixen, Suicune works the best when fighting at a distance. Having attacks like Aurora Beam at its disposal, it’s almost necessary to put as much space between the battle as possible. Like many other standard fighters, though, Suicune also has some melee attacks to give it viable options in any situation. A lot of its ranged attacks can have their direction altered, and Suicune’s Mirror Coat not only serves as a counter but protects from other ranged attacks, which makes it even better during the Field Phase. Suicune also has the second highest HP count, so it will have no trouble taking a hit either.
It seems so fitting that the “world’s strongest Pokemon” would rank so highly on this list. Since Pokken Tournament was released, Game Freak has always had some balancing issues with Mewtwo. Naturally, they gave him a few nerfs over the various updates, but even then, Mewtwo is one of the best fighters in the game. Mewtwo plays with a high risk high reward system. His attacks are incredibly powerful, but gradually deplete his synergy gauge, making it difficult to use Burst Mode. Furthermore, some of his other strong attacks leave a little room to for someone to combo you, although the most of those are ranged, which aren’t overwhelmingly a bad thing by any means. However, his standard categorization gives him excellent options in any battle situation. Couple that with him being tied for the second highest HP total in the game, and you’ve got a really good fighter on your hands. Perhaps it’s because of his excellent moveset and stats that he was one of the few unlockable characters in the game. Regardless, it gives players a lot of incentive to complete the Red League and get him in the game.
1. Shadow Mewtwo
I’m sure there was no doubt that Shadow Mewtwo would be making the top of this list. His inclusion in the game is very reminiscent of older arcade games that had bosses like Shao Khan, and Unknown. As such, when you first face this monster, it is one of the most difficult bosses you’ll ever face. Eventually, by completing the Chroma League or by having the Amiibo card, you can unlock him for your roster. Naturally, his stats are much lower than when you fight him as a boss character. He is more of a technique-based fighter, but he also employs a little risk and reward. Shadow Mewtwo has the lowest HP in the entire game, so taking a powerful hit isn’t going to do him any favors. However, he hits like a truck. Some of his attacks do upwards of 100 damage, and his Burst Attack will leave you running for the hills. Shadow Mewtwo was actually so good in the original game that he was actually broken; that’s because there was a way to use him and juggle your opponent in an infinite combo. Game Freak eventually had to nerf him hard before making him a bit more balanced when put against the rest of the cast. That said, he’s still the best fighter in Pokken Tournament.