Feature: Getting Competitive at NintendoUKVS Live in London

By Neil Flynn 13.08.2018

Exhibiting products and games is no new feat, but for Nintendo UK, putting together an e-sports and exhibition space for the hottest games is a step forward by reaching out to the gaming community that has enveloped the family friendly entertainment company. Cubed3 attended the recent NintendoUKVS Live event in Central London to check out the latest gaming gems. Read on to find out what made it worth visiting.

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) has often been hailed as the gaming mecca by many who want to know about the latest developments and to finally get their eyes on some highly anticipated titles. What normally happens in the following months is that these games are then taken on a road show around the world, appearing at events like Comic-Con and GamesCom; however, tickets for these events can often be scarce or the event difficult to attend. Fortunately, Nintendo has launched NintendoUKVS Live (the UK equivalent of Nintendo Versus), which hosted local invitational tournaments for Splatoon 2 and the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, all of which was live-streamed across Twitch and YouTube.

The two-day event, between the 28th and 29th of July, took place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London and had numerous demo stations of previous releases and upcoming hits, most notably Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The event happened to take place during the record-breaking British heatwave but that didn't deter the most eager Nintendo fans who attended in their droves. Demo stations were set up for ARMS, Pokkén Tournament DX, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and Mario Tennis Aces, although it is slightly strange that there was no appearance of Kirby Star Allies or Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, even if the emphasis of the event is multiplayer-focused (both of those do have multiplayer elements, after all).

Nintendo even had a whole half of the show floor dedicated to Third Party games and showcased them at the front of the exhibition hall, which included playable demos for Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dark Souls, FIFA 19, Killer Queen Black, Overcooked! 2, Fortnite, Paladins: Guardians of the Realm, and Monster Hunter Generations. Titles such as Dragon Ball FighterZ, Dark Souls and FIFA 19 all perform well and are already looking fairly polished. Nonetheless, the vast majority of the focus was shifted to opposite side of the hall, where Nintendo had a dozen or so Super Smash Bros. Ultimate kiosks set up for multiplayer madness. Queues were in excess of 20 minutes at one point, but this is nothing compared to how long the rest of the gaming population will have to wait to get their hands on the title, which is scheduled to release in December 2018.

Nintendo UK's first official foray into a live Nintendo Switch e-sports event took place on centre stage that featured hourly competitions with up to eight players showcasing their skills on a variety of games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario Tennis Aces, Fortnite, Splatoon 2, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with each participant receiving a swanky red Nintendo tote bag full of prized goodies that would make any Nintendo fan squeal. The various competitions were open to the public and showcased Nintendo's modern approach to engagement with its gaming community.

The event allowed Cubed3 to get some hands-on time with Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu!, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! largely felt like how a 3D Pokémon game should do, and Cubed3 got to experience the critters and monsters of Viridian Forest, which looked vibrant and playful. Catching Pokémon felt a little mundane compared to previous iterations as Let's Go has lifted the mechanics straight from the mobile sensation, Pokémon GO. Catching basic Pokémon in this manner is fine, but as the game progresses, it might become less rewarding to catch a higher-level Pokémon by just lobbing a ball at it. The Pokéball Plus accessory has a good weight to it and can fully control the movement on-screen. The additional piece of kit will be essential for Pokémanics due to being able to train your Pokémon while on the go. Interestingly, the demo had all three starter Pokémon, all of which look great in 3D, although at the moment there are a lack of animations in fight scenes.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas made its debut during the Nintendo E3 Presentation and piqued the interest of many fans for the inclusion of the Lylat System's very own Fox McCloud, who is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version. Just to re-iterate, this is not a new Star Fox game and questions have been raised regarding Fox's involvement in the title; however, with or without Fox there is still a lot of work to be done. The game runs smoothly enough but graphically it still looks like it could do with a major overhaul, and hopefully there is still time for Ubisoft to make the finishing touches over the next few months. The toys-to-life element felt overly gimmicky and the plastic felt relatively cheap but there will no doubt be a mad sense of happiness from the Star Fox community who get their hands on the Arwing. All elements of the toys are featured in the game, so there is not a paywall that is locked behind the additional plastic. The ambitious project of hopping from planet to planet to complete missions allows a sense of freedom that encourages exploration and Cubed3 will be following the development of Starlink very closely as it nears the October 2018 release date.

Cubed3 had an extensive playthrough with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, experimenting and toying through the large selection of stages and characters that were available in the demo. For many of the attendees, the emphasis of the event revolved around getting their hands on Ultimate, and needless to say the game does not disappoint!

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Overall, the event was well handled from start to finish, with stage presentations throughout the day, demo kiosks with a grand variety of games, engaging tournaments, and a selection of desirable giveaways. The NintendoUKVS Live webpage states that there may be another event in Birmingham later this year for the Splatoon 2 finals, so those living in the Midlands should keep their eyes peeled for the free tickets to release. For more information on upcoming events be sure to follow NintendoUKVS Live on their Twitter feed.
Box art for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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