ARMS lets me fill out this childhood fantasy I’ve engrained in my subconscious since I was a baby. I can become the real-life equivalent of Lanky Kong, the greatest video game character ever.
ARMS is the newest IP from Nintendo since Splatoon, and it seems they have also taken a lot of the art style from Splatoon as well. ARMS continues the sleek, cartoon aesthetic that Nintendo has been using to ensure their graphics never look date/mask their inferior technology. However, I do think it works well for the setting of ARMS because it doesn’t have any deep lore or mature content. ARMS feels like a stupid Saturday morning cartoon that I would tell everybody is stupid, but shamefully find enjoyment out of. The game just looks, so silly, and I had no intention of ever picking it up. It looked like the combat’s depth was skin deep, and that its motion controls would swiftly get old and tiring.
But after three hours of the Global Testpunch, I have found a weird love for ARMS. I found that playing with friends, and taking turns in its fantastic lobby system and quick matches, led to some genuinely great fun and intense fights. But, I don’t think I would enjoy playing it alone. I really enjoyed playing with the motion controls, but being cognizant of how stupid I look flailing my arms around, in a room by myself, with nobody around me fills me with great shame.
Luckily, the full game allows you to play without the motion controls, which, to some, may give these people an advantage, but Nintendo has done something clever with the combat in ARMS. When you throw a punch in ARMS, it doesn’t immediately reach your opponent. The punch slowly floats in the air to your opponent. It takes nearly a second for a punch to reach them if you are across the screen. When you input a command, you are committed to it. This isn’t a fighting game where you can mash buttons and expect a multitude of punches to come out. Once you input a button or punch in real life, you are committed to that punch, and the only input you have is the direction it travels in.
Deliberation is built into ARMS’ design, and, as somebody who’s favourite part of fighting games are the mental battle between you and your opponent, I absolutely love. ARMS takes away execution and focuses solely on the one-on-one battle between you and your opponent. If an opponent in ARMS is predictable, countering them is incredibly easy by noticing their tendencies, and adapting to it.
I’m not that great at fighting games, aside from Nintendo’s other premiere fighting game, Smash Bros., so the simpler movements and emphasis on mental battles are a perfect fit for me. Being able to read your opponent, clutch out certain situations, and expose their weaknesses is what is so thrilling to me about this genre.
But…I am scared of ARMS’ future. I am skeptical of how deep the combat actually is. Will there be advanced techniques and legitimate playstyles that can form? Or is there too much emphasis on 50/50 situations and guesses? Is dodging too powerful? Or can dodges be read and responded to accordingly? All of these hypotheticals will be answered in the future, but I am curious about how the metagame for ARMS will develop.
In fighting games, there is something called “The Triangle”. It is like a game of rock-paper-scissors and is fundamental in any fighting game. It goes as such:
Attacking Beats Grabbing
Grabbing Beats Blocking
Blocking Beats Attacking
It’s a fairly simple system and acts as the base for fighting games. ARMS, arguably, puts too much emphasis on this triangle and doesn’t give many options to escape its rigidity. There is a dodge mechanic to spice up combat, but can that option become too predictable? Are there enough advanced movement techniques to add more depth to combat? Or will it turn ARMS into a guessing game, almost entirely of luck?
Of course, all of my fears are speculation of a prospective future. I’m sure ARMS will cause enough attention for the Nintendo Switch until Splatoon 2 releases in July, and I’m likely going to pick ARMS up. I want it because I won’t play it competitively, nor will I go to the inevitable tournament scene that will form (and Nintendo won’t pursue.)
The main reason is just how accessible it is to anybody. During the beta, only hour long sessions were offered, but it felt like we got a bountiful amount of content in that short amount of time. The lobby system in ARMS guarantees that you are almost always in a match, and there is minimal wait time until you play. The waiting for online matches cripples a lot of my enjoyment with the online feature. ARMS makes it feel like it isn’t wasting your time, and you can immediately get to what you want.
And the most uplifting aspect of ARMS’ online was how seamless it was. I have PTSD from the atrocious net code of Smash Wii U, and I was skeptical how Nintendo would handle it for a fighter like ARMS. And, I can confidently say this, I experienced zero latency issues with an average internet connection. That is phenomenal, and pretty much cemented my purchase for me.
So is ARMS deep? Maybe, but I know that it is a ton of fun.
And Min Min is the best, no contest.
Edit: MR. YABUKI SAVED ARMS COMPETITIVE ALL OF MY CONCERNS WERE WRONG