Nintendo’s upcoming 3D fighter ARMS recently ended the first weekend of its open beta, dubbed the Global Testpunch. The Testpunch offered a limited selection of fighters, equippable arm weapons, and play modes.
ARMS left a good first impression, but the gameplay could be more dynamic.
The Global Testpunch offered a selection of 7 of the 10 total fighters that will be available in ARMS at launch. Each fighter uses noodly, extendable arms to punch opponents in the arena. They all have different selections of equippable arms, along with their own special abilities. These abilities weren’t clearly spelled out in the brief tutorial, so it was difficult to get a full grasp on them. I had to slowly pick them up as I was trying out the fighters in matches.
Spring Man and Ribbon Girl are your two basic, well-rounded-but-not-very-impressive fighters. They’re good for beginners, but once you’ve got the basic controls down, you’ll want to switch to someone more interesting and powerful.
Ninjara is speedy, which makes for fast dodges that can throw enemies off. Master Mummy is a slow and powerful tank; I didn’t enjoy him much, but I generally don’t enjoy tanks. I never quite got the hang of Min Min, but her design is my favorite, and her ability to kick away projectiles is useful. Helix (DNA Man in Japan) is another tricky one; his body can extend and shrink, but the Joy-Con controls for him weren’t the easiest to pick up. Mechanica is by far my favorite; her ability to hover makes for fun air-grabs.
The roster of fighters so far seems diverse and fun enough, but the abilities could be explained better and definitely expanded on for more dynamic fighting.
Like the character selection, the arm weapons offered in the Testpunch were limited, but their variety was apparent. And similar to fighters’ abilities, each arm has different attributes, like attack styles and speeds. Some arms extend slowly and pack a more powerful punch. Other arms reach further, or extend faster, or curve wider, or shoot projectiles. Even though all the arms handle differently, it never took me more than a few punches to pick up on their speeds and special features.
Judging by the arms presented in the demo, I know I’m going to be focusing on unlocking every fun, quirky weapon possible for the full game.
I really can’t say enough good things about the Joy-Con controls for ARMS. I’m sure this has already been said, but the controls are easy to pick up but hard to master. You hold the individual Joy-Cons in each hand, as pictured above and ignore the D-pad and joysticks while fighting. You throw a punch in real life to throw a punch in the game, and you can grab an opponent by punching both arms simultaneously. I’ve never been a fan of fighters, but these controls make fighting games fun for me.
Like I said, the controls take practice to master. My first few matches I felt very scrambled and kept hitting the bumpers and triggers sloppily, because, well, it’s motion-controlled fighting, and adapting to that control style takes time. Even after I became more confident, the timing for my dashes and grabs often felt a little off, but getting it juuust right was very rewarding. Though these controls will take practice, I’m more than happy to do so for a game that makes the grind this fun.
Another Global Testpunch for ARMS is scheduled for this weekend, beginning June 2nd at 5:00 p.m. PST / 7:00 p.m. EST.
ARMS will launch exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on June 16th.