Arms: How Nintendo Is Reinventing the Motion Game

Motion controls. Punching. Nintendo. For many, these four words will summon the specter of Wii Sports Boxing with its wildly flailing limbs and drunken pub fight responsiveness. When the company's new fighting game for the Nintendo Switch, Arms, was announced back in January, there were concerns we'd be subjected to more of the aimless waggling that Boxing -- and many other Wii games -- fell victim to. After a few hours with a preview version however, this is less of a concern -- although Arms remains a difficult game to grasp.

The design theory seems to be to do to fighting games what Splatoon did to shooters -- i.e., take a popular genre, strip it down to the basics and build it back up in an idiosyncratic style, making it accessible to newcomers while also promising enough depth to keep a lively online scene thriving. It is a fighting game with party game elements -- it's Super Smash Brothers v Punch Out v Powerstone. And that's a really intriguing if complicated package.

The Feel of the Fight

Arms offers a range of lively, idiosyncratic characters, each of which can be equipped with a wide variety of cybernetic combat limbs. Some look like regular fists, others fire lasers, missiles or metal discs, offering a combination of close and ranged fighting options. At the start of a round, you need to select two arms from your character's roster -- a tactical decision involving both the attacking and defensive capabilities of your limbs as well as their weight (stronger arms are slower and require more recovery time). All the different arms also have different attributes -- including electricity, fire and shock -- that can be charged up and unleashed to deal devastating blows.

The Joy-Cons in motion-control mode are held on their side and upright, like...

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