Connect with us

Gaming

Arms Review: The Sweet Switch Science

Published

on

I love fighting games. But I’m terrible at them. For all my desire to play a real-time game of chess, in which I predict and counter my opponent’s every move, I still launch into a Shoryuken when I meant to let loose a Hadoken. I am mechanically bad at the genre, so I have enjoyed fighting games only at the margins. Arms changes all of that.

Springing into action

Arms is exhilarating from the get go. The sick vocal samba track (which we recommend listening to as you read our review) amps you up for the bouts to come, punctuated (punch-tuated?) by the title screen that strikes with its graphic design. This is from a Nintendo infused with bold new blood.

The game pits people who woke up one day with extendable arms and decided to fight with them, to the adoration of fans worldwide. Just go with it. You control your colorful fighter — in my case, a Chinese woman named Min Min who has literal noodles for arms and a ramen bowl beanie — in over-the-shoulder one-on-one battles where you use your extendable arms as projectile fists. It’s boxing with Voltes V’s ultraelectromagnetic tops.

Mask on, mascots

The art direction in Arms speaks for itself. The characters are instantly recognizable. Hero games are all the rage (think Overwatch), and Nintendo enters the ring with this fighter that fuses the dev team behind Mario Kart with the freshness of Splatoon, proving again that they are the masters of creating video game icons.

Each of the game’s ten characters are instantly readable — you’ll never confuse Ribbon Girl with Mechanica. All thirty of the game’s titular arms (the weapons at the end of Min Min’s noodles) are also easily identifiable, and tell you if this particular fist is electric or fiery, heavy or light. The springiness of the characters’ arms communicates immediately whether your opponent’s attack will reach you, or whether you have enough time to slip in a counter. This readability is aided by the flawless 60 frames per second and 1080p/720p in docked/handheld mode, with antialiasing to boot. These visual elements combine to help you keep abreast of everything at any point during a match.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee

Fighting in Arms feels great. I started off using traditional controls in handheld mode, and fell in love immediately. Nearly all inputs are one button, from dashing, jumping, blocking, and activating your super (here called the Rush). Left or right punches are thrown with the respective triggers. You grab by punching with both arms at once. The left analog controls your movement as well as allows you to curve the punch. That’s it. Its simplicity makes Arms not about complicated button combinations, but about spacing, movement, and timing: the fundamental fighter essentials distilled.

There is one egregious issue in the traditional controls — no button remapping. Block is mapped to clicking in the left stick (my least favorite input), which has led to the double-edged sword of me never blocking. This leads to Muhammad Ali-like weaves through punches, but also renders me vulnerable to Rush attacks that I’m unable to dodge fully.

His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see

Nintendo polishes a central mechanic to the point that it’s blinding. Grand Prix, the game’s single-player component, does a great job of putting it all together and serving as a tutorial for the brutality of online.

The mode has seven difficulty levels, which represents the most gentle learning curve I’ve ever seen. Ranked is locked behind beating Grand Prix at difficulty level 4, so upon beating the cakewalk level 1, I jumped right into 4… and immediately got annihilated by the CPU. But by taking it one increment at a time, I was trained in the game’s basics. By the time I made it back to level 4, I could stand toe to toe with the AI, and even managed to score a Perfect against the secret final boss.

The mechanics are such that every time you lose, it’s your fault, and the game shows you why. You can review a CPU match immediately afterward with the replay functionality. It lets you see things in slow motion from the opponent’s point of view, from an overhead perspective, and from a variety of cinematic angles. Even if you lose, it still feels good, because hopefully you’ll learn from it.

Rumble, young man, rumble

This positive reinforcement is good training for the saltiness of online. The Party Mode is good clean fun, with a volleyball variant (the ball is a bomb that explodes when it hits the ground) and a basketball minigame (your opponent is the ball, and if your grab succeeds, you dunk your opponent or get three points if you’re behind the line).

There’s a more serious 1v1 fight mode, but it’s peppered in between the sports modes and the absolutely insane 1v1v1, 2v2, and 3vCPU modes. It’s a great way to practice against real people, and the lobby is refreshingly presented — there will be times when you aren’t matched up, but you can peek into the progress of ongoing fights via the bubbles in the lobby. As of the most recent patch, a proper Spectator Mode has been added, but that’s currently limited to four in a lobby — two fighting, two spectating (normal lobbies have a max of 10 players).

The real meat of Arms is in Ranked. It’s gated behind beating the Grand Prix at level 4, so everyone there should theoretically know how to play. I say “theoretically” because I rocketed from ranks 1 to 7 without losing a single best-of-three game (Ranked peaks at 15 for now). I’ve never been competitive at a fighter before, and there’s nothing like the mind game of prediction, counter-prediction, and reading your opponent.

It’s early days yet for Arms, and figuring out the intricacies and depth brought by the different characters and arms (each of the ten characters can use all of the thirty available arms) is exciting. By getting in on the ground floor, we’re building the metagame in real time. It’s a good start for Nintendo’s branching out into games as a service.

Fast casual

“Let’s play,” I tell Belle, my cousin. We’re waiting for our food at Pancake House, and I figure this is the perfect time to live out a Nintendo Switch commercial. For medical reasons, I’d never tried the motion controls before. Belle boxes in real life, so I know she’ll like this. I pop off the neon blue and red joy-cons and hand them to her, and take out another pair. They’re Arms yellow, vibrant as a highlighter.

She looks through the character screen with great interest. “Is she black?” says the palest, most privileged woman in our family who’s learning about social justice at the Ateneo de Manila University. She’s talking about Twintelle. “She uses her hair to punch? I want her.”

By this point, I’ve had Arms for a week and am deep into Ranked with Min Min. I use a different character for the first time — Kid Cobra, who’s tearing through the tier lists because of his innate advantages in the current metagame that is focused on charged attacks and dashes.

We play three best-of-three matches, and Belle wins every time. Maybe Arms makes savants out of us all.

SEE ALSO: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: The quintessential Switch game

 

Gaming

Nintendo Labo transforms Switch using cardboard and creativity

Fun for kids and adults alike!

Published

on

You really have to hand it to Nintendo for truly maximizing the capabilities of their consoles. The latest creation comes in the form of Labo, which can make your Switch even more fun to play with using just cardboard.

Set to become available by April 20, Nintendo Labo is a DIY set that lets you build everyday tools that are fully compatible with the Switch’s main body and Joy-Con controllers. There are two sets to choose from: a Variety Kit that’ll retail for US$ 70 and a Robot Kit that’ll cost US$ 80.

Those may seem a little pricey and too close to the cost of an actual Switch when combined, but wait till you see Nintendo’s first trailer for Labo:

It’s a dream come true for fans of the Switch and DIY enthusiasts! The video shows off some of the creations you can make, including a functional 13-key piano, fishing rod, and motorbike. Those and more are part of the Variety Kit.

For those who want to unleash their inner mecha, the Robot Kit looks even more appealing. If the trailer turns out to be accurate, you can place yourself right into the action with a backpack mount, visor, and straps for your hands and feet. Again, these are mostly made of cardboard, making it all the more appealing and fun to play with.

Of course, paper alone isn’t enough to get these new games to run. Software will be bundled to complete the experience, as well as step-by-step instructions that are child-friendly and allow kids to learn how to build on their own.

Those lucky enough to reside in New York City or San Francisco can attend a three-hour Nintendo Labo Studio hands-on event on February 2 to 3 or March 2 to 4, respectively. You’re gonna have to bring a kid aged six to 12 to participate, however, according to the website’s rules.

For an additional US$ 20, you can also purchase a customization set loaded with sticker sheets, stencil sheets, and cutesy tape to modify your designs. All these seem like only the start of what Nintendo has planned for the future of the Switch, and we can’t wait to see more!

Continue Reading

CES 2018

Hyperkin remakes the Game Boy for 2018

Will cost less than $100

Published

on

The hunt for nostalgia drives a lot of the new releases in the gaming industry. Years to decades after their launch, beloved games and consoles are getting remasters and rereleases. The Game Boy will be the latest blast from the past to hop on the nostalgia train.

Nintendo, however, isn’t responsible for this trip down memory lane. Gaming peripherals company Hyperkin takes on the challenge of bringing the classic portable gaming machine back to life.

The very first Game Boy was released back in 1989. The handheld console would go through several versions until the Game Boy Micro in 2005, when it would bow out to the Nintendo DS. Because of its proficiency, the DS (and recently, the Switch) overshadowed the legacy created by the GB family.

Last year, the company has remade the NES, SNES, and Famicom home consoles into repackaged Classic Editions. The new editions would usher in a clamor for more retro consoles. It was only a matter of time before Nintendo got around to the Game Boy once again.

Hyperkin beat them to it. At CES 2018, they announced plans to release an updated version of the Game Boy that features optimized hardware and compatibility with the original games from before.

Called the Ultra Game Boy, the new console is made from aluminum, allowing for more durability than the original. The layout mimics that of the first, but includes an additional dial for backlight brightness. (Until the Advance SP, the original GB family had no backlighting.)

The Ultra GB also features a built-in rechargeable battery that boasts six hours of usage. Connectivity includes a USB Type-C port for charging and audio-out ones.

The catch? Unlike Nintendo’s re-released consoles, Hyperkin’s Ultra GB won’t come with a built-in suite of games. Owners will have to blow into their old collection of cartridges to play anything on the console.

Hyperkin hopes to launch the Ultra Game Boy by this year. It will come with a price tag that runs around the US$ 100 margin.

SEE ALSO: 5 must-have Nintendo Switch games that aren’t Zelda

Continue Reading

Apps

Pokémon Go will drop old iPhones that don’t support iOS 11

You must upgrade to play!

Published

on

Bad news for Pokémon Go trainers out there with an old iPhone. If the “battery-gate” fiasco is not enough to make you upgrade, this announcement might force you if you want to keep on playing.

Niantic announced its plans to drop support for iOS devices that can’t be updated to iOS 11. Primarily, these are iPhones and even iPads released in or before 2013. They are the following:

  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 5
  • iPad (4th generation)
  • iPad (3rd generation)
  • iPad mini (1st generation)
  • iPad 2

The anticipated update will take effect starting February 28, 2018. After that date, Trainers using Apple devices that can’t be updated to iOS 11 will no longer be able to log in, catch Pokémon, and use their PokéCoins or other items. They must switch to a supported device to continue playing.

Niantic stated that the change is a result of improvements to Pokémon Go which push the game ahead of the capabilities of old iPhones and iPads.

Continue Reading

Trending