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Pokemon brawler Pokken Tournament heads to Wii U in 2016

Nintendo’s army of cuddly Pokemon creatures will soon star in their very first fighting game, as the publisher announced that a Wii U version of the one-on-one fighter Pokken Tournament will launch worldwide in 2016.

Developed by Bandai Namco, Pokken Tournament is a Pokemon-themed adaptation of the studio’s popular Tekken series, which has remained the exclusive domain of arcades and PlayStation consoles for almost two decades.

Pokken Tournament replaces the Pokemon franchise’s traditional turn-based battles with real-time matches in which players unleash melee attacks and special moves as one of several featured Pokemon characters. An arcade version of Pokken Tournament launch in July in Japan, and the upcoming Wii U edition will be the first time the game will see an overseas release.

Pokken Tournament‘s default roster includes returning series characters like Pikachu, Charizard, Gengar, Machamp, Lucario, Suicune, Gardevoir, Blaziken, and Weavile. Several more Pokemon — including Eevee, Jirachi, Lapras, and others — are support characters in Pokken Tournament, appearing when players deliver specific moves or commands.

A lucha libre-themed Pikachu variant, Pikachu Libre, will soon debut as part of a forthcoming update for the arcade version of Pokken Tournament. The announcement trailer above reveals that Pikachu Libre will be playable in the Wii U version of Pokken Tournament at launch.

Initially a series of monster-battling RPGs for Nintendo’s Game Boy portable platform, the Pokemon franchise saw widespread global success, ushering in hundreds of sequels and spinoffs in the decades following its debut. While games like Pokemon Colosseum and Pokemon XD have previously featured 3D Pokemon characters in one-on-one battles, Pokken Tournament is the first series entry to feature a round-based fighting game structure that gives players direct control over their chosen creatures.

Nintendo notes that further details regarding the home console port of Pokken Tournament will be revealed as the game approaches its spring 2016 release window.

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