This E3 Nintendo has been making a concerted push towards competitive play that’s going hand-in-hand with its Switch system – one of the most multiplayer friendly consoles yet devised. It started off with Splatoon 2’s World Inkling Invitational, carried on with the Pokken Tournament DX Invitational and got really interesting with the Arms invitational that took place last night.
All eyes are on Arms right now, with Nintendo’s fascinating take on fighting games launching tomorrow. It’s an alright video game, though whether it can sustain a competitive scene remains to be seen – but having watched last night’s Invitational I think it stands a good chance.
It helps, of course, that out of all the competitive video games fighting ones are the easiest to read. There are two characters that take up most of the screen’s real estate, and a nice big health bar that means you’re always on top of exactly what’s going on. Arms muddies the purity of other fighting games such as Street Fighter 5, with its close-quarters camera enforcing that matches are watched in splitscreen (although a spectator camera does pan out and give us a view of both fighters – even if it was a little under-used in last night’s tournament).
Arms does, at least, give a good fight that’s fun to watch, as demonstrated in the grand final between Zerk and SkywardWing. What started out as something of a mismatch, with Zerk’s Twintelle wiping the floor with SkywardWing’s Ribbon Girl, soon developed into something much more gripping and showed how fascinating high level Arms play can be – it’s a merry dance of punch and counter punch with environmental positioning proving key to success.
Zerk’s Twintelle won out in the end, resulting in a merry dance of his own and no doubt leading to conversations about who’s the best Arms character at this early stage in the game’s life. That argument was already raging after the Arms Test Punch last month, with both Twintelle and Ribbon Girl emerging as two of the top tier fighters.
What no-one reckoned with, though, was another fighter who’s got them all licked. Upon taking the crown, Zerk was challenged to a fight by Arms producer Kosuke Yabuki. What followed was pretty savage.
Yabuki first selected Min Min, the diminutive fighter who can kick attacks away, while Zerk went with the hulking Master Mummy. The decisive takedown was exemplary, Yabuki’s Min Min throwing Zerk’s Master Mummy off of the stage’s trampoline extremities then juggling into a rush attack that finished the match off. Just as spectacular was Yabuki’s celebration.
The match ended with Zerk pitting cover star Spring Man against Yabuki’s Twintelle, with the results again going in the favour of the Nintendo employee. An unfair advantage? Perhaps, but I think Nintendo should also look at nerfing its superstar producer before he does any more damage.