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My Hour With ARMS

The demo for the upcoming fighting game ARMS recently passed. How did I enjoy my time in the ring? I didn't.

ARMS comes to Nintendo Switch June 16
The ARMS Global TestPunch has finally ended it's second run and players won't get a chance to pick it back up until the game launches later this month.  I was excited to be able to give the game a shot after missing the first test weekend, I had a lot of fun when Splatoon 2 gave me the same opportunity a few months prior and the Nintendo Direct  specifically on ARMS had me rather hyped for a new type of fighting game.  I liked the idea of a new 3D based fighting game, most popular and competitive ones are 2D and beyond Smash Bros. and Soul Caliber 2 I've never really been that into fighting games.  Don’t get me wrong, I like playing them but just can't keep up with most people, so the idea of a 3D boxing inspired fighting game- where I would have to focus on my punches rather than mash some buttons, excited me.  Sadly, I didn’t get the experience I was looking for.  

Similar to the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire I was given an extremely brief tutorial before being thrown into the ring against my will.  Now I will be fair and mention how before going online it did give you a single warm-up round against a computer opponent, but even then my lack of instruction quickly got me KO'd and placed in online matches for the rest of my time.

Let's talk about the controls.  Nintendo went all in on making sure you didn’t have an excuse not to play because of them as every Switch controller configuration is available.  Both joy-cons in separate hands with or without motion controls, attached to the console, on its side SNES style and the pro-controller are all supported.  Like most people I went into this using the demonstrated "Thumbs-Up" grip.  A joy-con in each hand using motion controls for the various actions and buttons to only dash and jump.  Even in this set-up it feels natural to use the stick to move my fighter but that’s not the case.  

To move you twist the joy-cons in the direction you want to go something I had a lot of trouble with and was very unresponsive.  Having no other option than to fight online doesn’t help with figuring out these issues.  You start getting beat one way so mid-game you decide to ditch motion and start pressing buttons, but now you can't curve your punches which a really big part of the game.  I eventually gave up on the two handed method and surprisingly spent the rest of my time SNES style.  One thing I mentioned was dashing and dodging, the loading screens constantly remind you that they are the keys to victory, and they are.  But they are also very difficult to remember to use with a game that’s centered around punching.  To me it always felt like I was focused on either offense or defense, never both at the same time.

Online you were randomly placed with opponents in randomly selected event.  A one-on-one fight, 2v2 fight in which you are tied to your teammate, 4v1 battle against a powerful mechanized computer opponent or "Hoops"-where hitting or grabbing your competitor scores you points in a basketball fashion.  "Hoops" was by far my favorite, it honestly felt like a real sports title at times, whenever my opponent scored I wanted to get them right back and tie it up.  One-on-one was exactly how you would expect and is where most of the learning how to play takes place, if you have the chance to learn while trying to stay alive.

The 2v2 and 4v1 fights however were a mess.  You can harm your opponents and because of this it always feels like there is too much going on.  I appreciate that team attack is a thing in the 2v2 fights, it make a lot of sense, otherwise one person could just hide behind their teammate the entire time.  But with no way to communicate your teammate can be your downfall by dragging you where you don’t want to go and in a fighting game that’s not good at all.        

My main problem with the ARMS demo was that unlike Splatoon, I needed time to learn.  It was my first time playing Splatoon when its demo was released, and with just as short of a tutorial I was able to understand and get a good grasp of the game after only a few rounds.  But that’s because its a shooter.  It didn’t take long to understand the classes, which weapon did what and was best suited for each situation.  ARMS is a brand new type of fighting game, just because I watched a video explaining the basics doesn’t mean I fully understand and know how everything truly works in-game.  It's just like when it comes to a real sport, just because I know what to do in practice doesn’t mean I can pull it off during the real thing.  I know a lot of people had fun with the ARMS demo, so much so that its currently the best selling game on Amazon.  I wasn’t expecting to be blown away or fall in love with the game, but I was at least hoping to be entertained at least to the point of buying the game in a few years once it has a low used resale price.  Instead due to my time I'll be passing it over completely.  

Did you take part in the ARMS GlobalTestPunch?  If so, what were your pros, cons or tips for fighting? Let us know in the comments!  

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