ARMS has been a “boxing-type” game Nintendo has slowly been building hype for ever since they first showed footage in their initial Switch showoff, but not much was said about it for a few months. However, a recent “ARMSDirect” Nintendo video shed much more light on the game itself. ARMS is a “boxing-themed” game. It revolves around characters who fight with extendable “arms” that they use to fight in the matches. Now because of the extendable ability, ARMS makes it so that you must be careful and precise with your punches, as extending out your arms for a punch leaves you vulnerable. But it also allows you to fight from a greater distance. So basically its people with long extending arms beating the pulp out of each other. I’ll admit, I was intrigued by ARMS since I watched a little bit of the game play. It seems like one of the first few games that REALLY takes advantage of the motion controls in the joy-cons. Luckily for me and many other excited fans, Nintendo announced a “Test Punch” weekend for two weekends. I was able to take a couple breaks to try out the game and wanted to share my experience with everybody.
The test punch starts off by letting you select from 6 characters and 3 different maps with a few different game styles. I liked how each character is really different in how they play. I tended to mix and match between rounds and actually found myself liking the “heavy” class characters better. I have to say that Helix was by far one of my favorites though, only because he makes the absolutely most ridiculous noises ever. Seriously, I kept laughing every time he (or she??) did any sort of animation noise.
My first game was a bit…well, hectic and confusing. I was selected to play in a 1v1v1 match off which I ended up hating by the end of the first hour. It was way too easy to get ganged up on and get KO’d. I’m sure as people play it gets easier, but as my first match I was left feeling baffled and a little dismayed. I obviously didn’t do well but I knew I had to keep trying. My next few matches were a mix of me spamming the jump, dash, and punching buttons hoping to dear lord that I managed a hit. It seemed fun, but I really had no clue what I was doing. I think this feeling was mutual for everyone, but after about four games I really started to get a hang of it. You slowly start to learn how to dash and curve your punches more, and it gets a bit easier to use the motion controls. I honestly loved playing with the motion controls and only stuck to that. The motion controls seemed pretty responsive and fluid as I fought and never felt like they were too clunky and slow to respond.
Man, the feeling of throwing a punch and feeling that joy con rumble as you landed a solid hit felt great. Curving the punches was still a bit of a challenge for me by the end of my hour, but I honestly believe this comes with practice. There was a satisfying feeling of landing the perfect curved punch for the KO, or even grabbing an opponent and just beating the snot out of them. I soon learned that there are many different strategies to employ in this game. Since you control each fist with the respective joy con, you are able to mix and mash your punching style. One fist can be used to actually punch down your opponents fist, and the other can swing around to land a solid hit. Or in some levels, you can swing your fist around DNA test tubes to land a sneaky blow. Honestly, the options are abundant for how you fight in this game and I was just getting started. I had some ridiculously close matches, and man did I feel an intense feeling of gratification during those matches, even if they ended in a loss for me. After the hour had finished up, my arms felt a bit sore from punching, but I couldn’t help but already tell how much my understanding and feel for the game had changed. Sure, at first it’s a messy button mashing fest as you figure out what the hell is going on with these arms. But by the end of a few matches, you can already see the difference in your abilities as you understand the game more. I learned by the end that ARMS is much more than just a boxing game where you throw punches, but a game where your movement and timing is just as important. Learning when to punch, block, or dash became essential to winning a match. I was by no means a great player after an hour, but I felt motivated to go back and continue trying to get better at it.
Overall, after about an hour of gameplay I can honestly say that I enjoyed the game quiet a lot. I was able to play about 20 games with each match lasting around one minute. I felt like every game had my heart racing and made me really excited to get back in the fray, even if I lost. The satisfying feeling of throwing a punch and getting it to land made my adrenaline rush every time. I really enjoyed jumping in the air and dashing out of the way of an opponents arms as they swung past you. The gameplay in general is stellar and each match just seems to flow smoothly (even if you are losing) with so many different ways to fight your way through matches. The character selection is lively and quite diverse which made it fun to mix and match different styles. The final game will also have a larger selection of characters, maps, and even more ARMS to fight with. My only really big concern is that by the end of the hour, I felt like I had really played a lot of what the game had to offer. Sure, there will be more content with the full game, but I’m a little worried that the gameplay will become more stale after playing it for a long time. With the full price tag of $60, I’m still slightly undecided at this point if it will be a day once purchase for me. I think it is important to add that Nintendo has officially announced that the DLC for ARMS will be absolutely free, including more characters, maps, and ARMS. In the end, I had a great time and will probably continue to play the test punch to see how I feel. If you are on the fence and unsure about this game yourself, I highly suggest checking out the test punch for yourself. For now, it’s unsure whether or not Nintendo has another “knockout” game on their hands or not.
ARMS is slated to release for the Nintendo Switch June 16th, 2017.