This past weekend, Nintendo released the first ever Global Testpunch for their game ARMS. This was meant to not only show off the game, but get players a free chance to play it and see if this is something they’d like to play once it releases on Nintendo Switch on June 13th. Nintendo has done a good job promoting ARMS via their Nintendo Directs, but showing it and playing it are two different things.

So, with the entire Nintendo Team here at Outerhaven (Todd, Tyler, and Will, who host the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast) getting various amounts of time in the Global Testpunch, they decided to weigh in on what they thought of ARMS based on their experiences.

Todd’s Take –

So I’ll admit, my interest in ARMS truly grew via the last two Nintendo Directs, and I was fully behind the idea of these Global Testpunches, as much like Splatoon, it was a great way for players to get a hands-on without having to buy the full game. But I wasn’t sure how it would play, so I was eager to try it out.

Thankfully, I think ARMS has a lot of fun and potential to be had, though it does have some small flaws. I played the entire weekend in Tablet Mode, so I just played it button-pushing style, and that effected my experience.

What immediately took me in ARMS wasn’t just the very simple and elegant tutorial, but how much strategy there is in the game. You need a strategy to play (and win) in ARMS, cause if you don’t, you will get dominated. Adding to this fun, each character has inherent abilities that makes those strategies unique to each one. I loved playing as Spring Man and Ninjara the most, though I leaned towards the latter as time went on. 

Winner? Me? Naturally...

                         Winner? Me? Naturally…

Also, the different ARMS you can use in the game were diverse and really added to the strategy element of the game. Your decisions truly affect how you do in the fight and that’s very entertaining. While we were only able to do Party Mode in the Global Testpunch, that didn’t mean we didn’t have a lot of things to play. We could do 1v1, Triple Threat Matches, Tag Team Matches, and the hilariously explosive V-Ball. Each was a test of skill, and I found my favorite being the Triple Threat Matches as you needed to think about two opponents at once. It was fun.

There were a few problems. In matches where you have more than one opponent, you aren’t told that you can switch your viewpoint between opponents, and when you do find the button, it doesn’t always work on the first click. This can be a BIG problem as you want to focus on another foe but you’re fixed on the one the game programmed you to look at.

Also, Party Mode sometimes takes its sweet time to pair people up. I believe it’s trying to do unique matches and matchups, but sometimes there are three or four people waiting for a match and the game doesn’t do anything.

All that being said, I am excited for ARMS, and I think it’ll be even better when the other characters, stages, and modes arrive. This was a solid start for this potential new IP franchise.

Will’s Take –

Since first trying ARMS back at the NY Preview Event, I was already familiar in regards to the basic set up. Now going through a weekend, practicing and earning my keep, I can confirm there is a deep layer of gameplay beneath the colorful presentation.

As with many, I went with the default fighter Spring Man to test out the waters and as expected, he is the easiest of the bunch for most players. But should you wish to change characters, you can do so on the fly while in the lobby without leaving the room completely. Also, you are able to warm up and test out your different arms in training mode while waiting for a match to determine whats  works for you. After gaining some matches, I changed things up with Ninjara, and boy is he fun to use.

In matches, I feel there is a clear rock-paper-scissors mentality while you throw your punches. Do you risk a throw, when it cam be countered by a single punch?  How much you should curve your punch? When do you unleash your frenzy special and go Jojo Bizarre Adventure on your enemy? While it is easy to just throw punches, with does help with building your frenzy meter, you have think when you want to risk being open when going for the offense. ARMS uses the same mentality, I believe, in all fighting games such as Street Fighter and Smash Bros. It just verify satisfying  to pull off a comeback when  you are in the red zone. Or achieve a perfect.

Playing with the Joy Cons will take some time to learn. With the motion controls, it will read on the twist of your wrist so it may not go the way you want. You will have to mind your aim as you throw your punches, especially when  using arms that curve like Chakrams. This also applies when moving your character. You can easily move into a spot that you didn’t mean to and find yourself in a bad spot, especially in Triple Threat or Four way matches.

Volley ball is a fair mode aside from usual matches. I see the appeal of it, though personally, I just want to punch opponents. One other good addition is that another player can play with you online. I had my cousin play with me and if the match up is a doubles match, then your partner will be with you for the match. As for singles, in randomly selects either you or the other player. In regards to the dual split screen, it maintains the  60 frames with no stuttering.

Overall, this test has been quite impressive. I have not tried out the other control schemes, but to me it feels that the Joy Cons are the way to go in ARMS. From what is shown, ARMS is proving to be quite promising. Now if they only could add Twintelle in the roster before release…

Tyler’s Take –

I’ve been The Outerhaven’s leading ARMS enthusiast since the game was first announced back in January, and I’m pleased to say the Testpunch has me more eager than ever for June 16th. 

ARMS feels like the first polished Switch game built around the versatility of the Joy-Cons. The motion controls form the backbone of the game, and even though some claim the Pro-Controller offers more precision, I can’t see myself enjoying ARMS any other way. Throwing punches alone in my bedroom was thrilling on its own, and I’m confident that boxing against friends locally will be the definitive way to enjoy the experience.

Female fighters never have steered me wrong in the past, and, like Harley Quinn and Kitana before her, Ribbon Girl ruled the Testpunch. Her ability to jump multiple times fit perfectly with my gameplay style, and dashing through the air several times per leap gave me a huge edge against most of my early opponents. As time went on, however, I found myself losing regularly. Ribbon Girl constantly threw punches at her opponents, and the result more often than not defeat. You have to be precise and careful to succeed in ARMS, and I was anything but that.

Calling me competitive doesn’t really do it justice… nothing angers me more than losing. But for some reason after every defeat, no matter how flustered I got, I wanted to jump right back in and keep playing ARMS. I mixed and matched different ARMS, tried different characters, and after each hour went to Youtube to learn from better players. 

Training in between matches helped me find my favorite weapon: The Slapamander. Twisting the Joy-Con before punching changed its angle, but it always deviated towards the center of the screen. It was an easy ARM to control, and still very effective. While I’m sure there are plenty of ARMS that barely differ from one another, the Testpunch did a great job of showcasing just how different most ARMS feel. There’s a lot of depth to enjoy here, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the quicker ARMS didn’t overpower the slower ones. 

I found the 2 vs 2, 1 v 1 v 1, and 4-player free for all modes to be very enjoyable. They’re very chaotic, but I expect that once people learn the game those modes will offer the same amount of nuance and strategy that the 1 vs 1 mode offers. That head-to-head face off was definitely my preferred battle style, however. 

Like most of my punches, not everything hits home. The V-Ball game couldn’t be less interesting if it tried. It lacks depth, and I rolled my eyes every time party-mode forced me to play it. We’ll see how Basketball holds up this weekend, but I’m not expecting much. The tutorial also failed to teach critical parts of the game. My opponents were able to charge up their ARMS, but I only got a charge when landing from jumps or guarding. That put me at a severe disadvantage against people who knew how to charge up. Hopefully the main game will do a better job of teaching those basics. I also really wanted to know how to use my character abilities. Ribbon Girl can quick drop from the sky, but I never figured out how to do that. I’m sure it was painfully obvious, maybe I wasn’t hitting down on the joy-stick or something silly like that. 

I’m also a little worried about balance. Ninjara seems pretty over-powered. His teleportation ability lets him instantly counter any punch. Going up against him requires you to guess where he’s teleporting, or play extremely defensively. That concern may turn out to be nothing, he could be low-tier when the dust settles, but in that brief test-punch I felt he was clearly the best character. 

The three stages we had available also left me feeling a bit unimpressed. I adored the DNA Lab. It required you to twist your punches around obstacles, evolved when those obstacles shattered, and had an appealing look. The normal arena map featured bouncy borders that made for some high-flying fun, but it was a bit too small. Ninjara’s stage had very cool scenery and a great concept with the staircase, but there’s almost no room to move left or right. It wasn’t necessarily bad, and that narrowness gave each battle a different feel, but I wasn’t digging it. 

All-in-all, I’m more excited than ever for ARMS. Having to wait until Friday to play again might very well drive me insane.