Pokken Tournament is just the beginning
Did you hear the news about Pokken Tournament? If not, get ready to have your mind blown by the concept of a Tekken game that replaces the cast with the toughest Pokemon imaginable. The game, currently only announced for Japanese arcades in 2015, is being developed by Bandai Namco, and Lucario and Machamp are just a couple of the fighters you'll be seeing in this upcoming oddity. And, unbelievably, this isn't even the fifth weirdest Pokemon spin-off of all time.
Yes, in the nearly 20 years of Pokemon history, the main RPG series has been supported by so many strange side games that a Tekken-style fighter is par for the course. There's been virtual pinball, fishing, ranching, and more that all feature the pocket monsters in one form or another. Get ready to put Pokken Tournament into perspective with this long list of Pokemon oddities...
Pokemon Pinball (GBC, GBA)
Until recent years, high-quality pinball games were few and far between, especially on platforms other than the PC. So imagine the shock virtual pinball wizards felt when they discovered that the Pokmon brand led to the creation of one of the greatest pinball video games in recent memory. Replacing the actual pinball with a Pokeball was a stroke of genius, as high scores end up taking a backseat to the growth of your Pokemon collection (just like the core games, really). If you're good with the flippers, the Pokemon Pinball game will provide hours of entertainment, all contained on a handful of colorful tables.
Pokemon Snap (N64)
There you are, a Nintendo employee sitting in an intense brainstorm session at the height of Pokemania. The task: come up with the breakout Pokemon experience that shows the majestic creatures in their natural habitat. It needs to show Pokemon with greater detail than ever before--AHA! It'll be in first-person! But it can't be a first-person shooter--NO! You'll shoot them... with a camera! Great, but it'd be too difficult to create an entire 3D Pokemon world from scratch...EUREKA! Put the whole thing on rails, just like a safari tour! Throw in a few Professor Oak lectures and some apple-tossing antics in for good measure, and the legend of Pokmon Snap is born.
Pokemon Conquest (DS)
Nobunaga's Ambition has been around since the NES era, retelling the tale of Japanese historical figure Nobunaga Oda. Pokemon Conquest recasts the tactical look at Japan's past with cuddly faces like Jigglypuff and Evee standing next to generals and samurais. The gameplay is pleasing to strategy buffs and Pokefanatics alike, but it's still odd to see a series as globally minded as Pokemon focus on such a specific time and place, especially when it focuses on a franchise most of its audience likely never heard of.
Pokemon Trading Card Game (Game Boy Color)
This one is hardly obscure to the devoted TCG fanbase, but it's worth noting for how many steps removed this is from its source. The success of Pokemon Red/Blue led Wizards of the Coast, makers of Magic: The Gathering, to create a collectible card game that kids all over America played almost as obsessively as the main game. Then Hudson Soft translated the cards back into a title that came to Game Boy Color in 2000, which added a story to the collection of digital cards. Sadly, Wizards of the Coast didn't follow this with Pokemon Trading Card Game: The Collectible Card Game.
Pokemon Puzzle League (N64)
Alternatively known as Panel de Pon and Tetris Attack, this franchise has some of the best puzzlers Nintendo ever made, and the series got some extra exposure by attaching to the Pokemon brand. The game really only went through a cosmetic change, adding all the popular Pokemon and anime stars into the background. But the intense, brain-bending gameplay is unchanged, so who cares? Also, this is the only Pokemon game not to be released in Japan, most likely because its heavily based on the American version of the anime.
The Pokemon Mystery Dungeon series (GBA, DS, Wii, 3DS)
Much like Pokken Tournament and Pokemon Conquest, Mystery Dungeon appears born from this idea: this game is cool, but itd be much better if Pokemon starred in it. Chunsofts Mystery Dungeon series are infamous for their hardcore difficulty, and the developer only softened the difficulty slightly when making these more kid friendly games. Players still had to explore dark caves full of killer enemies, and players would still lose all their items if they were defeated. But now they had Charmander by their side! The Mystery Dungeon titles also feature the Kafkaesque scenario of a human waking up in the body of a Pokemon--this has to be the first time ever Kafkaesque has been used to describe a Pokemon game, right?
Pokemon Dash (DS)
Every successful game franchise deserves its own kart racer--but how could Pikachu ever put the pedal to the metal? And thus, Pokemon Dash was born: a racing game where your pet monsters sprint on all fours for your amusement. It's like horse-racing, but significantly less depressing when you lose. The zoomed-in aerial view ensures that you will never be able to see where you're going, and the stylus-heavy method of acceleration ensures that your hands will be dead tired in no time. On the bright side, the game has 420 special courses, so any time's a good time to get your puff-puff-pass on.
Hey You, Pikachu! (N64)
Hanging out with Pikachu looks like so much fun in cartoons that it makes sense a game would be built around it, especially when virtual pets were all the rage in the late 90s. The N64 release came with a microphone peripheral for your controller, and Pikachu would respond to your commands in real time. The game boasts that Pikachu understand up to 200 words, which makes him about as good at listening as a Kinect. In retrospect, Hey You, Pikachu! is admittedly gimmicky, but its influence can still be seen in X & Ys Pokemon-amie minigames.
Pokemon Rumble (Wii, DS, Wii U)
Like to fight with Pokemon in the Smash Bros. games, but wish you were more removed from the action? Pokemon Rumbles odd approach to portraying brawls with nearly 100 monsters on-screen at once is to remake every monster as a simplified, wind-up toy. It makes for some rather abstract gameplay to see armies of barely articulated pocket monsters bump into each other, but their plastic outsides have an undeniable charm. Plus, it gave fans an excuse to buy more toys (as if they needed another one).