Gaming

Arms Review: The Sweet Switch Science

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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

Special Edition Predator Helios 300 looks awesome in white

The gaming machine is a looker!

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Today, Acer announced a slew of new devices. From powerful gaming computers to updated notebooks, fans gathered as the tech brand unveiled products at the annual #NextAtAcer event in New York.

Out of all the gadgets and gizmos showcased, one thing caught everyone’s eye. This is the special edition Predator Helios 300.

It comes in a stunning all-white aluminum chassis with gold details — something you don’t see a lot of with gaming laptops.

Of course, it’s not all looks. Specs have been updated, too. It’s powered by the latest Core i7 processor with up to 16GB of RAM (expandable to 32GB) and 512GB SSD storage.

This thing is also equipped with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card and a 15.6-inch display with a refresh rate of 144Hz. Other than those changes, it’s still the same powerful machine released last year.

Regional pricing is yet to be announced for this bad baby. In the meantime, let’s just ogle at this beautiful, clean, and crisp-looking exterior.

As if it doesn’t get any better, Acer also unveiled matching white accessories.

A gaming mouse and headphones to match the whole mood.

Just look at that. I can’t stop staring, and I’m sure you feel the same way.

This is definitely this year’s best-looking gaming device so far. Take my money, Acer!

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Gaming

Acer Predator Helios 500 can overclock its Core i9 and GTX 1070 chips

Predator Helios 300 Special Edition gets launched as well

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Acer is well known for unleashing some of the most unreal gaming notebooks we’ve ever seen. And while it’s difficult to top the Predator Triton 700 and 21 X, the company is certainly continuing to turn heads with its newest Helios lineup.

First up is the Predator Helios 500, which is a follow-up to the Helios 300 we saw launched around this time last year. Acer is calling this new model “exceptionally powerful” and I can’t argue with that.

Both its Intel Core i9 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 chips are overclockable. They’re already fast on stock speeds, so being able to go past their limits is something mobile gamers will wholeheartedly enjoy. On top of that, the Helios 500 can be fitted with Intel’s Optane memory, providing users with the shortest of load times. If that’s not enough, up to 64GB of RAM can be installed, too.

To make the most of the high-end components, the 17.3-inch IPS LCD (available in UHD or Full HD) can manage a 144Hz refresh rate along with NVIDIA’s G-Sync tech to prevent annoying instances of stuttering and tearing during intense gameplay. And so that things stay cool, the brand’s signature AeroBlade 3D metal fans are once again employed.

Since this is a gaming machine, you get the usual gamer essentials, including a backlit RGB keyboard and host of ports such as Thunderbolt 3 and HDMI 2.0.

Interested? The Helios 500 will go for US$ 1,999 in North America starting June, EUR 1,999 in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) beginning this month, and CNY 15,999 in China in June. Specific configurations depend per region.

Going back to the Helios 300 mentioned earlier, there’s now a Special Edition of the year-old gaming laptop. What’s different this time is the all-white aluminum chassis with gold trim — quite a unique design choice that stands out in the sea of black gaming notebooks.

It also comes with updated specs, namely an 8th-generation Core i7 processor coupled with up to 16GB of RAM (which you could still push to 32GB), 512GB SSD, Intel Optane memory, and a GTX 1060. The display is slightly smaller than its larger counterpart at 15.6 inches, but the Full HD IPS panel can handle a refresh rate of 144Hz, as well. Two AeroBlade fans are inside to keep everything in order.

The Helios 300’s regional pricing and availability will be disclosed soon.

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Gaming

Acer launches affordable but fast Nitro 50 gaming desktop

Also launches complementary Nitro monitors

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Much like smartphone aficionados, gamers require a plethora of flexible options to get their optimal gaming fix. There is no catch-all model for everyone. As such, gaming PC makers do better when they launch more models catered for different types of gamers.

With this in mind, Acer is launching another expansion to its specialized Nitro family. Catered more for gamers with a budget, the Nitro lineup touts amazing specs with competitive pricing.

The new addition, called the Nitro 50, infuses the lineup with a dose of high octane. The new desktop PC packs in the industry’s up-to-date specs into one convenient package. Speaking of package, the Nitro 50 struts and shines with armor-inspired housing fronted with edgy red lighting.

Tailored for power, the Nitro 50 runs on 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processors. Further, the PC comes with variants running up to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 video cards.

Additionally, the Nitro 50 blazes through every single storage issue that gamers face today. It sports up to 3TB of HDD storage and 512GB of SSD storage. The package also comes with a built-in Qi wireless charging deck.

Regardless of whether it’s online play or streaming, the PC sports a Realtek Dragon LAN card which optimizes network speeds for every use.

Nitro RG0

To complement the Nitro 50’s capabilities, Acer is also launching new Nitro VG0 and RG0 monitors. Both monitors have garnered recognition at the 2018 Red Dot Design Awards. Offering up to 27-inch variants, both the VG0 and RG0 series tailor fit usage according to every possible game configuration.

Both the Nitro 50 desktop and VG0/RG0 monitors will launch according to region. The Nitro 50 gaming desktop retails for US$ 799 and will launch between May and July. The Nitro VG0 monitors start at US$ 129 and will launch between May and June. Finally, the Nitro RG0 monitors sell for US$ 169 and will launch between May and July.

SEE ALSO: Acer Avengers Edition Laptops Unboxing

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