Nintendo ARMS - Post testpunch thoughts

Since its announcement, I've had fairly high hopes for Nintendo's newest Garage developed game, ARMS. Splatoon, being the first such game set the bar very, very high.

Garage is basically a program where Nintendo employees can pitch ideas and concepts in a way that is outside of the traditional company structure - think of it like having a beer on a Friday afternoon with your boss and saying "Imagine if we made a game where ..." and the idea will get its due consideration. It's one of the best moves that Nintendo has made in years and so far has had brilliant results.

ARMS feels very much like Splatoon - it's a type of game you've played before, but completely different, with incredibly solid online multiplayer.

The characters are gorgeous, the environments beautiful. The game runs brilliantly. I love everything about this game... Except for playing it.

I'll be the first to admit that I hate motion controls. This game actually handles its motion controls very well and I quite like the way they've laid them out - they're fluid and responsive. I didn't find them particularly difficult to get used to. They feel right for the game. That said, I did have some situations where I performed actions that I wasn't really intending to. Motion Controls lack precision, one of the key things I dislike about them in the first place. I do like that a flick of the wrist is enough to punch instead of performing a whole punch motion, but at the same time, if I want to move forwards, I often ended up sending a grab attack. I did try the game with the pro controller, because as mentioned, I'm not big on motion controls. Unfortunately controlling the game with a traditional controller is something of a chore. It doesn't feel 'right', and is pretty much just tedious. It might work better with a button layout different to the default.

The mechanics are simple. You can dash, jump, block, punch, grab and use a super. When you have thrown a punch, you can control the direction of the punch by tilting the joy-con. Unfortunately you can't move while you're punching. Moving is far and away the most important thing in the game, and I found that my own movement was severely lacking a lot of the time. I didn't try any of the slow-moving characters, but I can't imagine that they would by terrifically fun to use. Blocking feels a bit pointless sometimes. It'll nullify damage from punches, which is great, but when it eventually breaks, it'll disable your arms. On top of that, you're still completely vulnerable to grabs while blocking. The super feels both too strong and too weak - if you manage to actually pull off using your super, it'll do a ton of damage and probably end the game. But if you get touched while using it, it's just gone. The mechanics work well for the game, but I can't help but find them a little bit uninteresting.

The testpunch was played in party mode, which effectively means that they don't care about matchmaking or ranks, and will throw you into a lobby of ten people and then into a random game type, such as 1v1, 2v2, volleyball, basketball, etc. The alternate game modes, like volleyball and basketball are interesting, but are ultimately just a filler to try to add content. I can't say that at any point I found myself looking forward to a coming game when it was going to be one of these matches. I had the most fun when I was playing in a 1v1 game, which I suppose the bulk of ranked play would be. This might be okay if there is a good matchmaking system. The non-1v1 games were all just too frantic for my liking.

ARMS has me in a strange state of mind where I really like it, but I don't actually find myself wanting to play it. The combination of controls, frantic gameplay and relatively uninteresting mechanics feel like I'd spend some time with the game, but just not enough to warrant buying it.