Stretching for another chance of success.
I can remember it as if it was yesterday, January 12, 2017, the day of the infamous Nintendo Switch Presentation. After an earlier reveal with a surprise trailer that first showed the Nintendo Switch off to the world, the time had come to reveal just what exactly the Nintendo Switch was and the kind of games planned for it.
In addition to the likes of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Splatoon 2 and the newly revealed Xenoblade Chronicles 2, other games were also revealed, such as Shin Megami Tensei V.
Admittedly, very little is actually known about Shin Megami Tensei V, even though more than three years have passed since its reveal, but the other games that were shown off, including Octopath Traveller, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes and 1-2-Switch, they’re all playable on the Nintendo Switch this very moment and so is ARMS.
When I saw the vibrant bizarre fighting game for the first time, it was a lot different to what a lot of us were expecting and there was disappointment that the fighting game that was just revealed, was not a new Super Smash Bros. game, but I knew I wanted to know more about it and it was certainly something I needed to pick up.
In fact, as the months passed and ARMS’ eventual release drew near and we had a rather extensive ARMS’ focused Nintendo Direct to lavish us in details, I have no shame in admitting that between ARMS and Splatoon 2, I was more looking forward to playing ARMS.
Don’t get me wrong, Splatoon 2 is a marvellous game, but as someone who was invested in the Nintendo Wii U, I did play the original game and I played it a lot, but I borrowed it from my brother. It was not a game I actually owned myself and I was glad a sequel was announced because it encouraged me to purchase it all the more, but ARMS was the summer game I was looking forward to.
As much as I eagerly awaited the release and did, in fact, enjoy my time with the demos that were made available for all who wanted to give ARMS a go, it had a major issue from the outset, a very short release window between it and Splatoon 2.
I took it upon myself to go around having a chat with gamers of different ages and asked them what game they would be picking up and although there was interest in ARMS, the majority turned around and confirmed they would hold off on ARMS, save their money for Splatoon 2 and only pick up ARMS, if the full game proved to be any good.
Very, very few admitted they planned on getting both and some who said they would get it later on, when I checked in on them a few months later, they still hadn’t.
Fortunately for ARMS, while it didn’t result in a success story like Splatoon for the Wii U did, it did manage to go on to sell more than 2 million units and for a fighting game that’s a brand new IP, that in itself is a feat worth praising.
While most want to call it a failure or just hate on it because they couldn’t get on with the motion controls, the biggest problems ARMS really faced, was having to compete with Splatoon 2 and coming across as a rather bare title.
At launch, ARMS consisted of 10 playable fighters, with each fighter having their own stage, support for online and local gameplay and not a whole lot else. I enjoyed what was available and did sink a few hours into it, but at the time, despite how fun it was and compared to Splatoon 2, yeah, it felt overpriced for what it was and it was a shame Nintendo did not do more with the Grand Prix, but here’s the thing, the base version of ARMS is not the game we have now.
Thanks to a stream of free content updates, much like we saw with both Splatoon games, in a mere six months, ARMS became something so much more. It went from having barebones content to having five additional characters added, new stages, new ARMS to be used in battle, and even new modes. Sure, Hedlok isn’t his own proper character yet, but players do get the chance to play as him and feel his power.
What’s more, there was well-needed fighter balancing, player records, a gallery mode was added that shows off a wide range of beautiful designs and my favourite, badges. With these, no matter what you did in ARMS, be it playing as certain characters, throwing punches or just being good at V-Ball, there was always plenty of badges to earn and for a while, they became a drug to me and I wanted more.
Furthermore, just in case Ranked Matches, Party Matches and Grand Prix wasn’t enough to keep players hooked and coming back for more, as part of the Version 4.0.0 update, ARMS was to get its own regular event much like Splatfest for the Splatoon games and for a while, it worked.
Fans and consumers would happily partake in the ARMS Party Clash, except for the times when a Party Crash would clash with the timing of a Splatfest, but it seemed for many, the damage was already done and at the end of 2017, there would be no more additional content for ARMS.
In fact, ARMS would get very little promotion, and the only thing that helped keep it alive would be the ARMS Party Crash events until they too dried up and despite the fact it was to get a series of graphic novels by Dark Horse Comics, nothing would actually come from since even now, although they’re still in the pipeline to become a reality, they’re not published yet.
Thankfully, ARMS did have one last lease of life near the end of 2018, with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate featuring Spring Man as an Assist Trophy and having a Ribbon Girl Mii Fighter costume, but beyond 2018, it looked as if ARMS was dead and buried once and for all until 2020 came along.
With most retail copies off the shelves in the likes of the US, ARMS has become a game that is hard to get a hold of and yet, when no one was expecting it, Nintendo is bringing ARMS back into the action.
They have ceased its retirement, announced the ARMS North American Open April 2020, a new demo is available now via the eShop and, this June, one of ARMS’ fifteen fighters, is going to debut in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as the first fighter of the second fighter pass. Oh, and they’ve also brought back Party Crash, with the first event since the revival, taking place this very weekend.
The world is a strange place right now and it is even more bizarre that Nintendo would give ARMS this level of attention now, after how quickly they deserted it within its first year on the market. Had they have done this earlier on, ARMS might have proved to be more successful, so clearly, something is afoot. (ARMS sequel anyone?)
Whatever it is though, Nintendo is doing what they can to make ARMS relevant again and they’re going at it in a big way and having picked it up in the first time in months, I can’t remember why I stopped playing it in the first place.
Thanks to the recent Party Crash, I am playing this delightful fighting game once more and I’m actually enjoying it more than I did when I first got it back in June 2017. After all, the game we have now compared to then, it’s packed with more content, there are more modes to play, more to achieve and accomplish and what’s more, it actually feels like a first-party game that has every right to charge full price.
ARMS never stopped being fun and it was always a good game from the get-go, only ever since 2018 onwards with the available DLC, it had become a great game and I was foolish to walk away from it as I did. I’m still using playing with the motion controls, but I’m still smiling, I miss battling it out against my brother when we would play online and honestly, it just makes me want an ARMS sequel all the more.
Nintendo did create something pretty special with this new IP, the lore they created for it did it some wonderful favours and now that it’s back in the ring, I can’t help but want to sit back and watch Nintendo attempt to accomplish with it this time and look forward to seeing where ARMS goes from here!
Welcome back ARMS, I missed you!
This post was written by Solid Jack