Pokémon: Type Wild isn't just any Pokémon fan game. It's a more intense, Street-Fighteresque take on the pocket monster series, and you should totally check it out if you haven't yet.
Earlier this year, The Pokémon Company announced a crossover between Pokémon and Tekken, appropriately titled "Pokkén Tournament." The trailer, which you can view here, showed Lucario and Machamp in a fierce one-on-one battle. The game looked interesting, and the concept was sound—a Pokémon fighting game just makes sense. That's what the Pokémon are doing during their turn-based battles, after all: they're fighting against each other.
But right now, the official game is only slated for a Japanese arcade release. Will we see a western release? We don't know, though such a thing isn't so unusual for fighting games in Japan. But why wait on a release that might not come, when there's already a cool Pokémon fighting game that we can all play right now?
We've written about Type Wild before—a demo of the game has been out for a while. I actually took it for a whirl last night, though, and I really liked what I played.
The game uses standard fighting game conventions. If you've played a fighting game before, you know what to expect here: special moves done through quarter circles, for example:
Nothing out of the ordinary, but even so, Type Wild is still a novel take. The thing about what we've seen so far out of Pokken is, they've only announced the characters you might expect out of a Pokémon fighting game: fighting-type Pokemon. That's cool and all, but it's also kind of safe. The beauty of Pokémon is that it has such a diverse selection of fighters. I know people get hyped up on Lucario—he's so popular, you can find him in Super Smash Bros. But that's exactly why I don't really want to play him in a fighting game. Not when I could theoretically also be playing as more interesting like Espurr, or ridiculous Pokémon like Luvdisc.
That's what Type Wild gets right. It's not just the characters you'd expect to see, like Blaziken, or Lucario. It's also Pokémon like Breloom, and more hilariously, Snorlax. Every character has moves from the games, too. Gengar for example can learn things like Shadow Ball and Sucker Punch, two moves which the average Gengar owner in the main Pokémon games would likely equip Gengar with.
When you start a single-player game, you can pick your difficulty level...
I had to go with 'Easy,' because anything else would totally kick my ass. It's not an easy game! But it might just be that I was trying to play with an Xbox 360 controller, which is not the best pad to use for a fighting game.
Once you get started, you're tasked with defeating Pokémon from around the world...
Matches are interesting because you are given a certain amount of PP at the start. PP, for those who aren't Pokémon veterans, is somewhat like MP in RPGs—they dictate how many times you can do a special move. And sure enough, it seems like this game limits how often you can do special moves based on PP, which is an interesting take on already-existing Pokémon mechanics. It means you have to judge when the best time to use something is, instead of spamming your special moves all the time.
Mechanically, Type Wild is curious, and it'll be interesting to see the ways in which the official game takes already-existing Pokémon ideas and incorporates them into the game. I think it's likely the official game will use actual Pokémon moves too, juding from what Smash Bros does with monsters like Charizard. But the place where Type Wild really shines, the thing that is more immediately noticeable is just how good the game looks. It's all in the sprites.
The new Pokémon models in games like X & Y are nice and all, but there's something nostalgic about old-school sprites. Sprites carry the bulk of Pokémon history. The same could be said of fighting games—while there are plenty of ones that use 3D models, it's the ones with sprites, or the ones with good visual styles that end up capturing our attention. I'd rather play a game styled like Type Wild than I would Pokken. One day, Pokken will look dated. Type Wild? Not so much. So when I say Type Wild looks better than the official Pokemon fighting game, that's what I mean, in a very literal sense—the visuals.
Type Wild does have plenty of rough edges. I mean, the game isn't even finished—the Japanese developers seem to have abandoned it at some point, which is a shame, given that since Type Wild's demo was released, we've had the addition of cool things like mega Pokemon. I could easily see megas finding a home in a Pokémon fighting game, as they have in Smash Bros. That's a thing that maybe Pokken can deliver on (edit: among many! It's too early to judge how the game plays, even if I can concretely say I prefer sprites and hope that the game isn't limited to just fighting game Pokemon.)
But, even as abandonware, Type Wild is worth checking out if you're a fighting game fan, or if you like Pokemon. It's free, it's good, and unlike Pokken, you can actually play it right now (provided you have a PC, that is). What else do you need?
You can check out more footage here: