The most dangerous limb.
Forget everything you ever thought you needed to know about those appendages attached to your hips known as legs, because we’re talking about ARMS.
I’ve had a fascination with this game ever since it’s bizarre commercial that aired during the Switch announcement, that pitted a teenage schoolgirl against a middle-aged man brawling it out. At PAX East, I finally got to try it out. As we were shuffled into Nintendo’s Safe Zone, friends and I bee-lined it towards the ARMS demo, where we were greeted by a Nintendo worker who handed us two sets of Joy-Cons and demanded we punch each other out.
The game at present features five playable characters in the demo edition, though they did confirm that more characters were going to be in the full release. It gave us the option to begin with a tutorial, and then on we went learning how to punch each other.
ARMS was extremely fun, had a surprising amount of depth, and is trying to reinvent the fighting game genre with something new and imaginative. The art style is stylish and colorful, reminiscent of Splatoon. If I had to compare it to anything, the most similar thing would be the field combat in Pokken Tournament. It faces the same rock-papers-scissors combat that Pokken Introduces while being a fighter that encourages distance and good planning. A wide selection of fist and special abilities per character keep the combat fresh and the mind games changing frequently.
But even with my affections towards ARMS, the demo was not flawless. We were made to play with the Joy-Cons using motion controls, and while the controls were tight, this actually caused two problems. The first problem is that the style of play feels completely foreign, and takes getting used to before you can really play it. Now I wouldn’t really call this so much a design flaw as just something you have to get used to. The Switch makes use of a lot of new concepts after all, but none the less the game felt less accessible from the get-go. The other negative I would consider is the controls are a bit –too– tight. While the commercial and press events show people throwing punches and dodging, the actuality isn’t quite that. The Joy-Cons have to be held completely vertical, or else you’ll be moving unintentionally in whatever way you’re leaning them, and instead of punches it’s more along the lines of flicks of the wrist. In order to guard you have to point the Joy-Cons at each other, but I found myself throwing an accidental punch or two while I tried to pull this off. (This could also be user error, to be fair)
Despite these issues, the motion controls are still really good (for being motion controls) and my friends and I walked away having a good time and looking forward to ARMS release this Spring. As someone who enjoys offbeat fighting games, this looks like another fun game by Nintendo to put out.
And if it sells well, maybe we’ll get LEGS in a couple years, and a prequel in the form of TORSOS!