As I previously reported Nintendo did an open beta this weekend for its upcoming game ARMS. Don’t worry if you missed your chance as they will be doing another one next weekend too. I spent a little hands on time with the game and walked away with mixed impressions of the fighter. When it first boots up they give you a huge disclaimer as to how to hold the joycon properly. They call it the thumbs up position. Nowadays though many people ignore the opening scenes and if you do you will fail to notice how to hold joycon ( I may have done this). Once in, you are prompted to select a character. There are 7 to choose from instead of whole roster as was previously leaked. I’m not upset at this since it wouldn’t have made sense for them to leak the entire game anyway. Once you have selected a fighter you are brought to a brief tutorial. Controls seemed simple enough. Make a punching motion with either hand to punch using that hand. Curving your hand a bit allowed you to curve your punches. Using both hands performs a grapple and throw. Moving your joycons slightly to any side moves you towards that direction. Blocking is done by moving the joycons back ( more on that). Overall the tutorial made the gameplay feel fresh and unlike anything you’ve played before yet somehow familiar. I would dare to say that this feels like a spiritual successor to the boxing in Wii Sports. It certainly feels like that’s how Nintendo envisioned that game to play over 10 years ago, but were lacking the technology to do so.
After the tutorial was over I was ready to fight! Feeling confident by my newfound abilities I went into a match. With the beta only online matches were available and the game immediately drops you into a lobby where you see several other fighters faces in a little bubble. It was at this point that confusion set in. They started shuffling all the players around the screen and threw each in of us into a large circle. Once in I was fighting with 2 other players. Chaos ensued as we all tried to attack one another. The controls used up for the most part except for 2 key things. Blocking never worked properly, but more importantly I had no way to target a player or at the very least choose who I was going after. The game pointed me at another player and I could swing at them and only them until it decided to switch my opponents. Alot of times it only made the switch after I “KO’d” the other fighter. The biggest problem I noticed with this was as I was swinging on another fighter, someone else was behind me pummeling me. I’m not sure if this is going to be standard or if they will change it before the final release. However, it definitely lessened my enjoyment of the game. This happened through several matches. While it was fun to get in and knock each other around, I still felt annoyed everytime I couldn’t flip the script on the person behind me. One match I entered had 4 of us going head to head and the chaos felt very similar to Smash Bros but nowhere near as refined. Graphics wise the game looked great. I played in a TV and experienced zero lag. I’m not sure how it will hold up in tabletop mode, but I imagine this would be a difficult way to play the game anyway.
So that was my time with ARMS. It wasn’t a game I had on my radar, but it was definitely a good time. I’d like to see if the issues I had get fixed or at the very least after a bit more time I simply care less about them. Overall it was fun and I think the sweet spot for this game will be playing with friends. I’ll definitely give next weekend’s test another go and here’s hoping they work out the bugs before release.