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.
“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.
[irp posts=”13796" name=”Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: The quintessential Switch game”]
Razer holds first ever SEA Games bootcamp for esports teams
Held in partnership with one of the best eSports teams in the world
Preparations for the upcoming 2019 Southeast Asian Games are underway, especially with eSports now added to the competition. Razer, the official eSports partner for the SEA Games has an idea on how to make preparations more interesting. The global gaming lifestyle brand wants to bring esports teams from all participating countries to train them by learning from the best players in the world.
Razer officially rolls out the Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp, a two-day training camp for eSports teams participating in the Dota 2 tournament for the SEA Games. The bootcamp will feature a series of mentorship sessions and practice games for all the competing teams from Singapore (Team X) , Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia (PG.Barracx), and the Philippines (Sibol). With the inclusion of eSports in this year’s SEA Games, Razer’s Global Sports Director David Tse hopes to “bring eSports to the next level.”
To guide these teams to success, Razer taps upon a global eSports powerhouse in the Evil Geniuses. EG’s Dota 2 coach, Sam “Bulba” Sosale will mentor the five participating teams to compete at the highest level for the upcoming tournament.
“Evil Geniuses is excited to help some of the best players in Southeast Asia prepare for it,” Sosale said. As of writing, members of the EG’s Dota 2 team are competing in the Upper Bracket semifinal round of The International 9 in Shanghai.
The Razer SEA Games eSports Bootcamp will run from September 2 to 3, 2019 in Singapore. As a treat, Evil Geniuses is hosting their first ever meet-and-greet in Southeast Asia on September 1. Fans will have a chance to get up close with members from EG’s Dota 2 team: Arteezy, SumaiL and s4, along with Bulba. Fans will also get a chance to win signed jerseys from their favorite players.
NVIDIA GeForce Now will bring PC games to Android devices
Taking on Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud
Cloud gaming is a recent trend in the industry which aims to revolutionize gaming in the future. In the past few years, industry giants have launched their own cloud gaming platforms: Google announced Stadia, while Microsoft announced xCloud. Soon, they will be joined by NVIDIA with its own GeForce Now which will be available to Android devices soon.
GeForce Now is NVIDIA’s cloud gaming platform that has been in beta for PC, Mac, and NVIDIA Shield TVs. With this recent announcement, GeForce Now will finally come to Android devices. More people will be able to play AAA PC games from their Android devices, regardless of specs. NVIDIA’s platform also has the advantage of streaming PC gaming titles from Steam, UPlay, and other digital stores. In comparison, titles available to Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud is more limited.
NVIDIA is improving the GeForce Now — as such, the platform will remain in beta phase for the foreseeable future. It is free for everyone to try. Those willing will need a compatible Bluetooth gamepad, since some games are unplayable through touch controls alone.
There is no exact date when the GeForce Now will be available to the public. There are also no details yet as to how much the platform will cost as of the moment.
NVIDIA’s GeForce Now is part of the industry’s push towards cloud gaming. Cloud gaming works by streaming a whole game through the internet so people can play their favorite games anytime, anywhere. However, it remains to be seen if people will welcome the technology with open arms — after all, it requires a fast and stable internet connection.
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has a release date!
So soon yet, not soon enough!
After our heartstrings were played with by the Final Fantasy VIII Remastered teaser, fans have swarmed with tons of memes predicting and wondering how specific scenes would appear with stunning new visuals. Well, our memes and dreams are about to either come true or get shut down because Final Fantasy VIII Remastered is getting released on September 3, 2019!
Final Fantasy VIII and why fans love it
Final Fantasy VIII was a game that plotted itself in a fantasy world while digging into an emotional story-line of war and love. The game focuses on a group of young mercenaries led by Squall Leonhart. They’re adventure begins with a striking conflict: Ultimecia. Ultimecia is a sorceress from the future who possesses Edea and wants to compress time. In this quest, Squall encounters friends who inevitably join his quest to keep the world in its balance.
Final Fantasy VIII was the first of its series to reinvent the active time battle wheel without ignoring its roots. The game allowed more customization which ultimately allowed players to work around weaponry, armor, and summons that drastically affected characters’ combat style. These seemingly small tweaks in gameplay gave players breathing room to pick how they wanted to play the game making it all the more immersive.
While its predecessor, Final Fantasy VII, had 3-dimensional models, it didn’t significantly refine designs as much as Final Fantasy VIII. Every element in the game expressed more detail with as much accessible technology as Square could get their hands on. From the planet that showed a level of meticulous detail we hadn’t seen in the series before, to the hilarious “you’re the best looking guy here” memes, Final Fantasy VIII was weirdly ahead with visuals at the time.
What’s new with Final Fantasy VIII Remastered?
First, and obviously, enhanced visuals. The announcement trailer that was revealed in E3 this year made it loud and clear that each element of the game — characters, enemies, objects, and summons — were all refined and enhanced.
Second, battle assists. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered allows you to activate a booster to max out health points (HP) and active time battle (ATB) bars that trigger limit breaks at any point players need. Regardless, you will lose HP when you get hit with a critical attack that renders more damage than your HP, or by lethal damage.
Third, turning off encounters. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered has setting you can use to allow you to turn off random encounters. This is incredibly useful when you’re out of potions, phoenix downs, and need to run to the nearest shop. This doesn’t apply for event battles that need to be done to further the game’s plot.
Fourth, battle speed boosts. The game lets you accelerate time by a factor of three. If you want to breeze through easy battles or rush through level grinding, this feature is useful. This feature isn’t applicable for certain scenes and movies.
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