If Nintendo has proved anything in recent years, it’s that they have the skill and talent to develop games for any genre. When the third person shooter Splatoon came out on the Wii U back in 2015, it seemed so left of field for Nintendo, but it blew me away with how ridiculously fun and replayable it was.
Two years later, Nintendo are trying their hand at the fighting genre with ARMS, a 3D fighter which takes boxing to a whole new level. Just like Splatoon, it has so much style, is as fun as it looks and replayability is at its core.
Originally announced in January as part of the first major reveal of the Switch and its launch line up, Nintendo devoted a huge segment of the presentation to ARMS. Which at the time looked to be quirky and colourful in classic Nintendo fashion. It wasn’t until closer to the Switch launch when ARMS grabbed me, largely due to its ridiculously vibrant art style.
In a similar vein to Splatoon and the rest of their first party catalogue, Nintendo has obviously spent a lot of time and effort on making ARMS distinct. Revolving around a unique cast of fighters, ranging from teen stars, to serious ninjas and even undead mummies, they are a quirky bunch. A bunch which each individually, stand out and have me wanting to learn more about their backgrounds, just through their designs.
All round though, the visuals are fantastic. Every attack and jump is a visual pleasure, to the point it is almost as much fun to watch as it is to play. But don’t let its cuter characters and Nintendo family-friendly vibe fool you. This is a frantic, fast paced fighter which at first seems like it has simple mechanics but will require many hours of practice to master.
This is largely due to the use of the motion controls (there are stationary controls, but they have not yet been revealed). Each player uses a pair of Joy-Cons, and throws punches, blocks and dashes, all through the use of motion.
I know, this sounds like it’d be a mess for a fighter, a genre which requires more finesse than any other. But if ARMS does anything, it showcases just how far Nintendo’s motion controls have come.
The controls took me a few minutes to wrap my head around, but soon enough I was dashing, throwing curved punches and countering. Although some moments led to frustration, more often than not, it was because I underestimated the sensitivity of the Joy-Cons motion sensors.
This is where ARMS’ depth really lies; not only in learning the move sets and styles of each fighter, but in becoming acquainted with the amount of movement needed to pull off different attacks and techniques. It’s these motion controls which make it stand out among the already crowded field of established fighting franchises, such as Street Fighter and Tekken.
Now, I can hear you sighing at the thought of a fighter using entirely motion controls (and don’t get me wrong, I’m interested to see the standard control set). But during my short time with ARMS I had an absolute blast.
The visuals just pop out of the screen while you fight, the gameplay is fast paced and dynamic and with a nice variety of crowd filled arenas to fight in. When I made mistakes, it really felt like my own fault and not that of the motion (which is not something I say often about motion games). Each character took my interest with wicked designs and familiar yet diverse fighting styles.
ARMS does feature the classic scissors, paper rock formula of hit, block, grab for its core gameplay, but features some nice little touches to break up this traditional formula while staying true to its theme. These include the ability to temporarily take an opponent’s arm (which is made up of noodles, ribbon etc, depending on the character) out of action through hitting a weak spot, leaving your opponent quite vulnerable.
Although my time with ARMS was short, it has only raised my expectations for Nintendo’s newest IP. It really is as dynamic and fun as it looks and its vibrant style means it’ll be one of the coolest looking games coming out in 2017. With seven fighters already announced, all with their own unique fighting styles, ARMS is set to have a solid roster at launch.
ARMS is another terrific example of Nintendo committing to their clear vision for the Switch to be the ultimate local co-op experience. But more importantly, it further proves Nintendo’s ability to make unique, fun games with replayability at its core for any genre.
ARMS is set to smash its way onto the Nintendo Switch worldwide on June the 16th.
I had a spin of ARMS at GX Australia and can’t wait to discover who my main will be for Nintendo’s latest foray into the fighting genre.