Multiplayer modes, particularly competitive ones, have come to define the gaming memories of millions of people.
Generations fondly remember nailing a rival with a Green Shell just inches from the finish line in Mario Kart, or scoring a glorious Play of the Game in Overwatch. These standard multiplayer modes, such as deathmatch or team deathmatch in shooters, are absolute classics.
Video games, of course, have evolved in a whole range of ways since the days of Pong, Space Invaders and their ilk. The medium is now more of an art form, telling tales worthy of the most artistic movies and offering deep, life-changing and life-affirming moments.
Multiplayer options remain a mainstay, the primary draw of all kinds of genres. Thanks to online play, lobbies can be populated in seconds by players all over the world. Back in the day, it was couch co-op, split-screen or nothing.
Sometimes, though, a game will provide a multiplayer offering that’s more than a little unconventional. It will tend to fly under the radar as a result. Whether throwaway extras that provided to be riotous fun or main modes that have largely been forgotten, here are some brilliant and sorely under-appreciated PVP modes that are severely underrated.
10. Triple Battles - Pokémon
For the competitive VGC circuit, Double Battles have very much become the ‘default’ for competitive Pokémon play. With team archetypes like Trick Room, Sun, Rain, Sand and Snow (Hail as it was known prior to Pokémon Scarlet and Violet) to consider, as well as allies to support and so on, doubles battles are deceptively deep.
In Generation V, Game Freak started experimenting with a wackier concept: Triple Battle. As the title suggests, these bouts saw three Pokémon in play on each side of the field simultaneously. Mechanically, these matches didn’t play out that differently, but there were additional elements to consider.
Positioning was key, as Pokémon could only target adjacent foes (with most moves; Flying-type attacks weren’t restricted in this way). The Pokémon in the center, for instance, could attack all foes but could be attacked by any in turn, while the one on the left could only attack the one directly in front of it and in the center.
It was certainly unconventional and fiddly, but a welcome tweak to the formula for players who enjoy experimenting. The Triple Battle format has appeared sporadically since (in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, for instance), but never became a franchise mainstay.