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ARMS Global Testpunch impression

So last weekend is the first week of ARMS Global Testpunch demo sessions. I have the chance to join 4 out of 6 available 1-hour-long session. There will be another group of sessions next week at the same time, then the subsequent release at June 16th, roughly two weeks away.

The demo only give you a taste of a small section that will be available in the full game, with all modes other than Party mode disabled. There are 7 fighters available to play, out of the 10 that will be available at launch, they are the cast that were introduced before the last Nintendo Direct: Spring Man, Ribbon Girl, Ninjara, Master Mummy, Min Min, Mechanica and Helix. Three versus mode is available to play, from the simple last man standing fight between 2, 3 and 4 players, to team fight between 4 players (2 vs 2), and finally V-Ball (a volley ball like game) between 2 and 4 players.

The stage is limited to three as far as I’m aware, which are Spring Stadium, Ninja College and DNA Lab. Each offer different terrain and obstacle, which can be used to ones advantage. One I quite liked is the DNA Lab, where I can hide behind a tube that housed a Helix-like guy, then use a curved ARMS attack to sneak in a few punches. The tubes could also break after a few punches or if one fighter throws the other at the tube after a grab attack, which add to some variety in strategy between stages.

Controls

As I was mainly a handheld mode player, naturally, I don’t use the motion controls. While at first I feared that I might get disadvantage over the more flexible motion controls, or that ARMS seems to design around motion controls first, I’m happy to report that I can play it fairly well with the handheld control. The punches can be carried with A (right) and B (left), but I found it to be more comfortable with the alternate ZR and ZL which works the same way.

Dashing, jumping and jumping then dashing is a key to victory, so it was an essential skill to learn and get comfortable with. Holding the dashing and jumping will also turns your ARMS into charged mode for a short while, which will unleash more powerful attack that can knock down your opponent.

One only thing about controls is that I wish I could map the rush activation to other button other than L or R, as for the control I used, I could accidentally hit it easily and wasted a special I have built up.

Fighters and ARMS

As you might have suspected with screenshots full of Min Min above (and below), I only played Min Min the whole time in all 4 sessions I joined. No special reason, but I have liked Min Min since her announcement and planned to main her, so I want to spend as much time with her as possible.

There are 3 different ARMS available for Min Min in this Testpunch, which are Dragon, Megawatt and Ramram. Dragon is quick to launch, but will stay on the air for a while when it released a powerful beam attack. Megawatt pack a heavy and slow punch, but will deflect other lighter ARMS. Ramram is boomerang-like ARMS, that is very quick and can do a curve attack.

Matching ARMS depending to the opponent you are facing is quite crucial and can change your play style in a significant way. The Megawatt for example, pack an intimidating and powerful punch, which can be useful when you are fighting quick fighters like Ninjara with light ARMS equiped as you can overwhelm his punches. However, as it is slow, it will be wise not to launch it a lot but only at a good opportunity.

Which bring us to Ramram, a quick ARMS that will launch a curved boomerang. It doesn’t pack a lot of power and can be easily deflected, but it is very useful at throwing quick jab to flinch your opponent, then throw in a more powerful ARMS. The charged Ramram can also knock down opponent, so it can be quite deadly when used properly.

Finally the Dragon, is a very powerful ARMS. It also stop mid way before shooting a beam, so if you are quick, the opponent might miss deflecting it with their heavier ARMS. I found it very useful fighting Master Mummy and Mechanica, as they are a huge target. That said, the air time of the Dragon is quite long, so if you miss the shoot, you will left vulnerable for a while. It is better to only do a charged shoot as it will knock down the opponent and give you time to charge the ARMS again.

As for the other fighters, I have to say I have no idea how it was in the controls, so this observation is based on being fighting the other guy. Spring Man is very balanced fighter and at the last ounce of his health, he will be very intimidating with auto-charged ARMS. Ribbon Girl on the other hand is very agile, double jump make her soar higher than the others, adding more dimension to the fight and is very difficult to hit.

Ninjara is also very agile and the ability to disappear when dashing making it possibly the most difficult opponent to hit. Master Mummy can be intimidating at first, with huge body and big ARMS, but it is an easy target to hit. Just make sure to use more curved attack, as straight one will be easily deflected. I think Master Mummy might be an easy choice for beginner, as it doesn’t involve a lot of movement to be deadly.

Mechanica can be a lot like Master Mummy, but seems to be a bit more agile with ability to stay on the air longer. She also attack faster, it is to me one of the most difficult opponent to beat, however her huge mecha is also an easy hit target. And finally, Helix is… well, I’m not sure, but I haven’t had a hard time fighting one.

As for Min Min, her special ability is that she is able to deflect punch mid-air if you are dashing after the jump. However, I found that it is very difficult to get the timing right, to the point I might never score a deflect properly. However, she is quite agile and is also a balanced fighter, and her left dragon hand can unleash a very powerful special (and looks awesome).

Specials

After building up punches after punches, you can activate rush and unleash a special attack. Using the special attack is a key to victory too, as you can turnaround the situation significantly if you are losing or gain a huge advantage if you are winning. However, special attack is easy to guard and dodge, so you have to time your special properly or you’ll waste it.

One way to make sure the special is connected is to unleash after you dodge opponent punch or grab, that is a small window when the opponent is unable to move fast and vulnerable to punches. I have done a lot of wasted specials until I figure out how to do it the right way. Another way I successfully did is try to corner the opponent, so they only have limited area to dodge although they still can guard if they got the timing right.

As for defense against it, I found that it is crucial to not throw the slower ARMS when the opponent already built up a special. Always be ready to guard and dodge, so I only use the quick Ramram ARMS to jab and score some damage.

Grab to victory

Grabs is also a very powerful attack, that if you successfully did it. But grabs can be cancelled easily by a single punch and left you vulnerable. Also dodge it well, and you can easily counter-grab your opponent. I found that grabs can be very risky, yet is also very rewarding.

Charge… Charge…

Charging punches is also very powerful and is possibly the most important skill for winning a match. To do that though, you have to stay on the ground for a bit while holding dash or jump. This will make you idle and can be easily targetted, but you can cancel anytime so there isn’t much risk involved, which made it my favorite skill to master.

Charged punch will also knock down your opponent, so that will give you time to do another charge and get ready for another charged punch. Successfully connect a few punches and you can easily dominate the match.

1 vs 1 vs 1 (vs 1)

One of the complaint I saw a lot is how 3 or 4 players fight is unfair. Especially the 3 players fight, if you are caught in the middle. However, I think it’ll only took a while for players to realise how to make the situation to their advantage.

For example, in a 3 players match, it is not unusual to find one player dominating and have the most health. If the other opponent isn’t stubbornly focused on you, you can team up with him to fight the other guy and balancing the health distribution again. It is a wise choice, because neither you or him want to left with a fighter that have significantly more health. That logical thinking might be all it needs to balance the match between 3 and 4 players.

Team fight

Team fight is more chaotic than either 3 or 4 players fight. The reason for that is, you and your teammate are connected by some strand. This connection will pull both of you together, so you can’t move too far and if your teammate is thrown, you will too. This make team fight can be quite hard to keep up.

V-Ball

V-Ball is a volley ball game with ARMS twist. This is a quite silly game but can be quite fun, if only the rally can be hold longer. However, most V-Ball game I played ended up quick as either me or my opponent have difficulty keeping the ball up in the air. Or while it is just starting to get the fun after exchanging ball a few times, it exploded.

Lobby

On the Party Match, up to 20 players are connected in the same lobby. I quite like how this was setup, as game and players is randomly assigned. Many times, I found I fought a skilled opponent and lose my fight. While I wanted to settle the score against him, next match I can be paired with him in a team match and I can be assured I have a good company. Then future match can be me against him again and so on. This way of player matching is very appealing to me.

A winner

Conclusion time! For me, ARMS has been very fun game and definitely a winner. It can be chaotic, random punches will definitely works, but strategize and you can win a lot of matches. Fighting an equally good opponent is a great fun. In a way, it is similar to Super Smash Bros, that casual play can be chaotic fun. Then serious fight and it can be quite competitive. Thanks for reading, hope I can find you in the next week Testpunch! 🙂

You can preorder ARMS on Amazon here.

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