MMA legend loves Nintendo Switch
To celebrate the launch of Nintendo’s newest fighting game sensation, ARMS, Canada’s ultimate fighting champion Georges St-Pierre came to Toronto. He was there on behalf of Nintendo of Canada to promote the game, and express his love for Nintendo Switch. Not only is he a huge fan of ARMS, but he also really enjoys playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!
The event was appropriately located at Toronto’s OpenMat MMA studio, located in the downtown core. Greeting us outside was smiling Nintendo rep holding an ARMS sign who instructed us to head on down, downstairs. Into the MMA dungeon we went!
Setting the ground rules
Nintendo instructed all media to “wear nice socks” and for good reason — it’s a house rule at the MMA studio. I put on my new retro 8-bit Nintendo socks I was given at Nintendo’s Switch preview event back in January. It was funny to see many other game writers wearing their favourite Nintendo socks, mostly Mario, Zelda, Pokémon and such.
To kick things off, an energetic MMA announcer told we’d soon be participating in a 16-person ARMS tournament. It would be a single elimination bracketed tournament with the winner going head-to-head against Georges himself. Our own fellow Best Buy gaming blogger Jon Scarr was also in the tournament. I was particularly excited about him joining as we’ve had plenty of epic gaming match-ups before.
Training for the tournament
To help us prep for the tourney, Nintendo handed out a 101 primer sheet explaining how the game works. It was mostly refresher, as I had a chance to try ARMS at Nintendo’s Switch preview event earlier this year. I guess that means I had a leg up on some competitors, or perhaps more appropriately an “arm” up.
For those who have never seen ARMS being played before, I’ll give you the rundown. You hold two Joy-Con controllers in a thumbs-up position and punching is performed by subtly motioning forward. Moving your character left or right is done by tilting both your hands in that direction. To throw, you move both hands forward at the same time, and to block you tilt both hands inwards.
If it all sounds very intuitive, it certainly is, and the motion detection of Nintendo Switch is spot on. I’d go so far as to say that ARMS has the deepest and most responsive motion control gameplay to date. The days of flailing your arms around like we all did in Wii Boxing is long behind Nintendo. Instead, ARMS relies on very deliberate and precise movements to move and attack the way you want.
Let the battle, begin!
I’ve been in many gaming competitions before, but having many of your industry peers looking on certainly added some heat. While it was a bit nerve-raking, I successfully won my 1st round match, and so did Jon. It just so happened that we were both on the same lower quadrant of the brackets, meaning I had to face Jon next.
As mentioned, I’ve had some pretty epic matches with Jon in the past, but typically online or at get-togethers. With bragging rights on the line, I chose Ninjara while Jon picked Master Mummy. This was an interesting match-up considering Ninjara is one of the fastest characters, whereas Master Mummy is the slowest. Ninjara brings the speed, while Mummy possesses the brute strength.
After two intense back-and-forth rounds, I managed to squeeze out the wins. It was tough battle, but in the end the better ninja won (sorry Jon!) We had a total blast playing though, and immediately agreed to more challenges once the retail game launches. I plan on spending a good chunk of my summer playing ARMS so I was all to happy to oblige!
A winner is crowned…
When it was all said and done, Jason Lepine, the COO of Nintendo Enthusiast was crowned the winner. I suppose it’s a fitting victory knowing how much a lifelong Nintendo fan Jason is. For his effort, Nintendo gave him an ARMS banner and a $100 gift card to the Nintendo eShop — pretty awesome!
…but a new challenger awaits!
Following Jason’s epic win, it was time for him to face Canada’s ultimate fighter: Georges St-Pierre! From the moment Georges stepped to the front it was non-stop laughter. Who knew he was such a funny guy! As someone I’ve seen take down many opponents in brutal UFC matches, his off-stage lighthearted personality was amazing to see. From comedic digs at his ARMS opponent, to jokes about his ARMS practice routine, Georges lit up the room with smiles. You can see some of his hilarious comments in the video posted above.
During the match, Georges St-Pierre continued the taunts and verbal jabs, much to the delight of us onlookers. You could tell that Georges put in serious training as he throwing punches, blocking, and activating his super-powered Rush attack. Jason, being the consummate ARMS fighter eked out a victory in the end. That is, of course, after Georges accidentally (or not) rage-quitted the match. Yeah, we all laughed a lot when that happened.
Post-fight with GSP
After the ARMS tournament was all said and done, Georges graciously offered to individually meet with all media folks. You could ask him a few questions if you wanted, or simply get your photo taken with him. During my brief chit chat with GSP he (again) came off as totally friendly, down-to-earth, and loves meeting fans. Nintendo really couldn’t have picked a better spokesperson to help support the launch of ARMS.
Following GSP’s Toronto visit, he made his way up to Montreal for a similar launch event — Nintendo kept him busy! I’ve been so many gaming media events over the years, but this will always stand out as a highlight. Not only did I get to meet one of UFC’s all-time greatest, but we got to play a fun new Nintendo game as well!
A big thank you to Nintendo of Canada for the invite. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more ARMS training to do!