Announced at Nintendo’s Switch event last month was Arms, a new IP for the forthcoming console generation. At first glance, Arms resembles a traditional third-person fighting or boxing game. However, the fighters throw punches by launching their extendable arms like projectiles. This lets them strike from very far away, but it also can leave them vulnerable.
Arms is one of many new games to take advantage of the Joy-Con controller. Players hold the two controllers upright, one in each hand — similar to the Wii Remote and Nunchuck — then use quick movements to throw punches, modifying them mid-swing with a twist of the wrist in either direction. Players even use motion to perform techniques such as grabbing and moving.
While Nintendo’s marketing shows players primarily utilizing the motion controls, a button controls option also exists — similar to Splatoon, a game that also heavily advertised motion controls but also allowed button support. The majority of competitive Splatoon players use the gyroscopic aiming, but many appreciate the option to forgo it.
Characters, Gloves, and Stages
Nintendo has only revealed five of Arms’ characters, so far. Each character shares similar move sets, but with unique twists and different stats. For example, Ribbon Girl gets a triple jump instead of a double jump, and Master Mummy can heal while blocking. With how similar the characters are there’s no excuse for a less than plentiful roster.
To make up for similarity in the characters, each fighter gets to choose a glove for their left and right hands. In the demo, each character could choose from three, with some overlapping between characters. The toaster has a fire effect, the boomerang has a much larger angle when it curves, and the revolver — perhaps the coolest glove yet — acts like a gun, consecutively shooting out three bullets in a row for each punch. The more glove options the better, as they will lend to different play styles and help give the game a longer life.
Like the characters, only a few stages in Arms have been revealed. One stage is basic, while another has a trampoline in the middle. A third stage features various pillars that fighters can hide behind, punch around, and even destroy.
Ways to Play
Players will have many ways to experience the combat presented in Arms. As expected, players will be able to compete 1 vs 1 in both online and local multiplayer. Nintendo also confirmed a single player mode of some sort. It’s unknown whether this simply means exhibition matches against CPUs or if it’s something more, but hopefully the latter is true.
A deep story mode with cutscenes and the like would be ideal, almost necessary if they’re to learn from Street Fighter V. Though, neither Super Smash Bros. 4 nor Pokken Tournament feature such a mode. Arms is a brand new IP with new characters. Players want to get to know them; a story mode could expand on these characters and their world. It would also extend the life of the game and help justify the hefty retail price.
Fortunately, Arms Producer Kosuke Yabuki has said that there are many modes yet to be announced. He also stated that online play would feature other side modes that are not only 1v1. It’s difficult to guess what they are, but perhaps a 4-player battle royal or maybe some sort of minigame competition could show up. Either way, the more the merrier.
Nintendo’s Next Big IP
Does Arms have the potential to be Nintendo’s next big IP? There seem to be many signs pointing to yes. First of all, it received a lot of focus from Nintendo in the Switch presentation and even more in the Treehouse event. Furthermore, Arms has garnered a lot of fan support already. The game was even up for nomination at EVO 2017, the biggest fighting game tournament of the year.
Not only that, but Arms exhibits many of the characteristics expressed by most of Nintendo’s biggest franchises. It has a creative, colorful world with unique characters that stand out. The music is catchy, uplifting, and inspiring. The gameplay is completely unlike anything seen before, and appears to have that easy to pick up, hard to master quirk that many Nintendo games capture, such as Smash and Pokemon. This allows casual players to have fun right away but also grants more hardcore players the intricacies for them to devote hours upon hours.
Arms characters also lend well to Nintendo’s other IPs. For example, an amiibo line for all of the characters would look great. Also, who couldn’t imagine Spring Man or Ribbon Girl as a playable character in Smash?
All of these characteristics are shared by Splatoon, which came out in 2015 to overwhelming success and is receiving a sequel this summer. No one’s saying Arms will be Splatoon-level huge, but it could still be pretty successful in its own right. If all goes well for Nintendo, maybe we’ll be playing Arms 2 in 2019, and many more sequels in the years to come.
As a new IP, Arms isn’t automatically going to perform well. There are many unknown factors about Arms such as how deep the gameplay will be. Also, it’s possible that modes could be lacking. A lack of characters, stages, and diversity in gameplay could prevent people from justifying the $60 price of Arms.
Set for release this spring, Nintendo will likely reveal more information about Arms. The originality of the game is one which could make it stick around and overcome any consumer/critic obstacles. Maybe Arms will be remembered as a niche game made to display the abilities of the Switch controllers. Though maybe, Nintendo has found the next spot in their roster of legendary franchises.