When the Switch was announced we got to see just a few games that were coming to it. Shortly after its announcement there was an official Nintendo Direct that detailed even more games. One of the most unique titles out of that was ARMS, a fighting game featuring characters with springs for arms. Later on, we were treated to a full video sharing what could be expected of ARMS and recently players were able to play the game for free at specific times. I made sure to set aside some time for the Global Test Punch and here are my findings.
For those unaware, ARMS is a new fighting game designed by Nintendo for the Switch. It features a diverse cast of unique characters with springy arms who compete in combat, as well as mini game competitions. For many players it is described as Wii Sports Boxing mixed with the Splatoon style. Even though this may be the evolution of Wii Sports Boxing, motion controls aren’t the only way to play.
For starters, as I covered in my previous piece on ARMS, there are many ways to play. Initially, I figured we would be stuck with only motion controls, but this was quickly corrected and confirmed with the test. Playing with the buttons works pretty well, if not better than waving the Joy-Cons around. Although, using the motion controls is pretty intuitive and works better than I would have thought. For the majority of the matches I have played so far though, I stuck to the standard controls.
Awesomely enough, ARMS also works with a single, horizontal Joy-Con and even that works pretty well. It’s not nearly as comfortable for longer sessions, but to get another player in, it gets the job done. I only experimented with this briefly, as each test only lasted an hour. I would have loved to see the game get a more traditional test period, allowing us to play most of the weekend, but it is what it is.
During my first test out of three, I played using the Switch in portable mode. I have to commend Nintendo on getting ARMS to run so smoothly on the go. I never had a single graphical error and the match connection was extremely stable. Controls were easy to use, even when I had the Switch propped up to swing the Joy-Cons around. During my second test, I was playing on the TV with the grip controller. Of course, I found this to be more accurate, but once again I didn’t have the issues that are normally found with tests like this. If the Global Test Punch is any indication about performance, ARMS runs beautifully on the Switch in all avenues.
Oddly enough, I found myself compelled to play match after match, which is weird cause I normally don’t enjoy competitive games. Each of the characters were fun to use and I had a blast just trying different ones with different gloves. Playing reminds me a bit of the 3D Naruto games that Namco Bandai have been putting out for a while. It’s a much slower pace of course, but each match was filled with intense moments and tactical decisions. Winning felt like a feat of skill and it was satisfying even while losing.
ARMS relies a lot on player accuracy. Knowing just where to place a punch is half the battle, while the other is positioning. Each character has different speeds too, so high level players will have to know what each one is capable of and their quirks. I do feel like the test had a bit of balancing issues to address, but the full game will likely be fine tuned over the coming months.
This technical skill of the actual fights are complemented by the gorgeous art style and rocking soundtrack. During the test there were plenty of gorgeous venues, which also had different floor plans. I fought toe to toe in a standard arena with springboards on the side to get some extra air. The next match was against four players in an area with a big staircase, where height and targeting mattered much more. Sound design is wonderful, each track fitting the mood well and catchy enough that I found myself whistling some of them. That man theme especially is one for the ages!
Nintendo has done it again. Splatoon came out of nowhere and instantly became a hit. I anticipate ARMS to do the same, especially since it can be taken anywhere on Switch. This is a perfect example of taking a single idea mechanically and boiling it down to its purest form. I doubt ARMS will have the emotional story-telling that makes many games resonate with me, but I think it could be a game I repeatedly come back to for just pure fun.
ARMS is releasing on Switch on June 16th. For more information, check out the official website.