Arms and Street Fighter II are the odd couple in some respects, but the pair have more in common than I thought.
I played two games at PAX East 2017 one right after the other that were more similar than I would have guessed. One was Ultra Street Fighter II, the retro-stylish Switch port of the classic fighting game. The other was Arms, Nintendo’s weird motion-controlled fighter. Now it’s not crazy to come to the conclusion that one-vs.-one fighting games are similar, but the point that was clear to me after playing both games was that Arms captures far more of the spirit of fighters like Street Fighter than I thought possible. In my couple matches of Arms, I saw the potential of Nintendo nailing a novel take on fighting games much in the same way they absolutely nailed a novel take on multiplayer shooters in Splatoon.
Arms is a weird game, even weirder than the initial showing of Splatoon. The motion controls are more intuitive than I expected, and pretty soon after learning the ropes, I was letting loose my extending fists while jumping and dashing all around. Hell, I even blocked a few times. Much like Street Fighter, you have to keep an eye on your opponent’s moves, waiting for them to get into a position you can make advantageous for yourself. Despite being a game in 3D space, the movement isn’t complicated, mostly thanks to the fact that you are always locked onto your foe.
The quirkiness works in Arms’ favor, and from my brief time, I saw hints of depth, mostly coming in the different arm combinations you can create. You can pick different fists for each arm, so you can blend styles. Some fists are faster. Some deal elemental damage. Some are giant, bludgeoning objects that can be absolutely devastating if they connect. I’ll be curious to see the variety on display with the fists. Each fighter had three different types in the demo.
Arms still has a lot of questions, and as we inch closer to spring, when the game is due out, we should hear more. Some things we know for sure: it will have optional non-motion controls (awesome). It will have a single-player mode (cool). We have no idea what that single-player mode will be, though. Will it be something as full-fledged (if on the shorter side) like Splatoon? Will it be more in line with a traditional fighting game’s single-player, where it’s just regular versus matches with character endings? Who knows.
And I guess, with Arms mostly dominating my mind, I didn’t touch much on Ultra Street Fighter II. While I’m not sure $40 is a price I will gladly pay for what seems to be a relatively simple cut-and-dry Street Fighter II port, that game looks fine as hell on Switch. But if Arms is hovering around Ultra Street Fighter II’s May 26 release date? I’ll get my fighting fix there, most likely.