This weekend Nintendo held their first “test-punch” for their upcoming fighter ARMS. It’s similar to what they are doing (and have done) with Splatoon’s test-fires (apparently finding a more original name is hard). But what did take away from the game after the added couple of hours of playtime?
The test-punch only had a single mode on offer: Party. In this mode, playable with two players, you enter a lobby and battle a group of other players. Either in 2-on-2, 1-on-1 or 1-on-1-on-1 games. When participating with two local players his means you won’t be playing with two players at the same time during each match. On the other and it does you can mix two-player couples in the same lobby, which was the case during the test-punch. What I did like is that the game properly uses the Switch’ user system allowing me to pick one of the system’s users as my buddy thus allowing them to collect online points as well.
The test-punch showed off two types of gameplay: battles and volleyball. Battles are the main event and for this mode, I counted three different levels that were shown. During battles, you move the Joy-Cons separately to punch (with the option to twist), together to attempt a grab all while tilting both Joy-Con to move around. Jumping and sprinting is handled by pressing the R & L buttons respectively. You can also fill your combo-meter to unleash a combo by pressing the ZR button. Motion controls worked well and felt good to me, someone who enjoys motion controls. For those who don’t like motion controls, there are non-motion controls as well. Here separate buttons control your left and right arms.
In the other type of gameplay, Volleyball, the controls were identical. The rules, however, weren’t. Here you play on a volleyball field. When play commences a ball appears in the center above the net. The objective to make the ball touch the ground on the opposing end of the net. When time runs out, the ball pops showing its explosive innards and drop like a brick, so make sure it’s at the other side of the net when time runs out. Volleyball works well but did take me some time to adjust to, but that adjustment was mostly part of me adjusting to the game as a whole.
What took me the most adjustment was that the arms are controlled separately. At first, I definitely favored grabbing an opponent as this required ‘punching’ with both arms as the same time. While grabs can be hugely effective, they shouldn’t be the only weapon in your arsenal. Further moves I still need to master are using punches to defend with (by punching the incoming punches) and defending as a whole. In the time I had with the game I only did the odd combo and things like counters were out of my reach. I tell myself that was mostly caused by the (very) limited time I had with the game and not my lack of skill.
Another -not ARMS related – thing I learned were that when you get morethann 12 games in your Switch game list you get an “all software” (notice that is says “software” and not “games”) option at the end of the home screen’s game carousel. Here you get an overview of all your games you can navigate both horizontal and vertical but no other sorting or filtering options. This answers something I was wondering during my original review of the Switch.
Finally, ARMS also had in-game server notifications. When the server was going down for maintenance I got a notification in the top-left corner telling me as much. While it might be minor it does show Nintendo will be able to inform users from their servers. While not groundbreaking, it does show Nintendo is catching up with it’s online capabilities.
The ARMS test-punch was a short but sweet taster of what is to come. If you missed it, you’ll get another shot next weekend. The test-punch version of the game is free to download from the eShop as a 1,4 Gb download.