A Call to Arms (Arms First Impressions)

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In the seemingly never ending wait for new content on the Nintendo Switch, there is shining light in the distance, just a couple weeks away: Arms is a Nintendo-made unique spin on the fighting-game genre. Every character has stretchy arms (or some equivalent) and they take each other on in the most intense style of boxing and tests of skill imaginable. And it comes complete with bombs, fire, ice, electricity, robot suits, mummies, laser-shooting-dragon-head attachments, and unidentifiable piles of goo with fists.

Over the past couple weekends, Nintendo has been running a special demo version of the game called the Arms Global Testpunch. Nintendo Switch users from all over were able to get a taste of the game, playing online against other players experiencing the game for the first time, myself included. So, I felt like it would be fun to voice my opinion on the whole thing! There was only so much players were allowed to experience, but the online sessions I did manage to jump in on were a lot of fun.

Let’s get started on this little analysis, shall we? I’ll divide up different subjects about the game, and lists the pros and cons I feel were presented in the demo.

  • Graphics and Music: 
    • Pro: This game looks really, really good. It’s nice and colorful, it runs smoothly, and the characters and stages all look unique and are a joy to see in motion. The music is equally great, and the main theme can stick in your head pretty easily (as a good main theme to a game should).
    • Con:  I can’t think of any major negative aspects I would think are important enough to bring up. Some of the character designs didn’t seem quite as good as others (I don’t really care much for Ribbon Girl or Helix design-wise), but that’s really a non-issue.
  • Gameplay and Control
    • Pro: Your basic Arms match is a one-on-one fight, you and an opponent in the ring together. The standard fighting game rules apply: knock your opponent’s health down to zero, and you win! And with unique character abilities and a bunch of different styles of weapons (called Arms, of course) you can attach to you stretchy limbs, finding the combination of fighter and tools that suits you best is an experience of its own. There’s also two-vs-two gameplay where you team up with a partner, and a boss battle mode of sorts where three players join forces to take down a baddie called Headlok (who is literally a giant metal head that locks himself onto another fighters body. Get it? Headlok?). But there’s also a target punching mode, volleyball, and a basketball game where you use your opponent as the ball. It’s a good variety, to say the least!
    • Pro: The game has multiple control modes, and the one mainly featured in the demo is what’s called the “Thumbs Up Grip” mode. You play holding each half of the Joycon controller in your two hands, and you play the game mostly through motion control. You dodge, block, and punch all through the movements of your hands, and it’s AWESOME. This is motion control done right, making you feel like a part of the game! Of course, if you’re looking for something more standard, there are normal controller options too. But I feel like the true way to play is by swing your own fists! It makes for a good workout that way, too!
    • Con: I’d say the main problem with the controls is that maybe the game can be a little TOO sensitive in Thumbs Up mode at times. Like I mentioned, your movement, defending, and fighting are all done through the motion control. In the heat of a fight, depending on how you move your hands or the direction you hold the controllers in, you could end up blocking or throwing out a grab when you didn’t mean to, and it could cost you the game. You have to pay veeeeery close attention to what your hands are doing. And when your adrenaline gets pumping in the middle of a fight, that’s not the easiest thing in the world. Perhaps a normal control style can be more suitable for this game? I suppose it depends on the player.
  • Online Play
    • Pro: A big issue with Nintendo games in the past is the sometimes shoddy online play. Even the recently released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is reportedly having issues. That being said, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Arms. The demo, after all, was online play only. And every motion of the controller, every button press, and every impact of my punches felt spot-on with no delay (not counting the occasional lagging connection with an opponent). Of course, this could change once the game is released and more people are playing online more regularly, but as it stands, Arms might be the best online experience for a Nintendo game to date.
    • Con: At least, it is the best when the game doesn’t randomly drop you. I had this strange issue where every 20 minutes or so, I would be given an error code and kicked out of the online lobby, even when I was in the middle of a fight. It could have been an issue with my internet, or maybe just an issue with the demo itself. And even when I did get kicked, I was able to jump right back online almost immediately with no problem. So I’m not sure what was up with that. I’d be interested to hear if other people experienced the same issue. Hopefully it doesn’t persist when the full game launches.

And that about covers my opinion on Arms so far! Overall, aside from the occasional oddity, it made a really good impression. Even if you didn’t manage to catch the demo periods, I would highly recommend picking up the full game when it launches on June 16th! I know I am.

Thank you for reading my little blurb on what could be Nintendo’s next smash-hit game. I would be well deserved for this to become a best seller for the system! Until next time, Sparky is signing off!

(I might even have a main fighter already! Mechanica is my jam!)

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