ARMS has continued to sell throughout the Switch’s lifespan, but beyond that, it hasn’t made much of a splash in the gaming world as an IP.
By Timothy Donohoo
Published Apr 16, 2021
Though it’s certainly achieved far more third-party support than past consoles from the company, the Nintendo Switch is still very much defined by its first-party games. Besides newcomer?ARMS, many of these have been entries in stalwart Nintendo franchises, such as Pokémon, Super Smash Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. There have been attempts in recent years for Nintendo to create some new classic franchises, but some have definitely taken off more than others.
ARMS was an early title for the console when pretty much the only other major game for its was Breath of the Wild. ARMS has continued to sell throughout the Switch’s lifespan, but beyond that, it hasn’t made much of a splash in the gaming world as an IP. This hasn’t been helped by the apparent cancellation of the planned comic book adaptation from Dark Horse. The first game got plenty right, though, and a sequel could cement it as one of Nintendo’s greatest franchises.
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ARMS is most known for its unique, gimmicky play mechanics that differentiated it dramatically from other fighting games. Each character has multiple eponymous appendages at their disposal and is able to use and extend them to engage in stylized long-range boxing combat. Bridging the gap between the gimmicks of the Wii era and the more traditional gameplay of Switch era games, ARMS can be played either with motion controls or with standard button controls. Its basic gameplay and colorful cast of characters were all highly praised, with many noting how Nintendo was able to apply their trademark charm and aesthetic to a boxing/fighting game outside of Punchout! and the Super Smash Bros. series. Many also favorably saw it as a sort of mix between Punchout! and the boxing component of Wii Sports.
Unfortunately, the game had several problems which kept it from truly reaching its potential. For one, there was no semblance of a plot or any real premise, even for a fighting game. This lack of a story has begun to be phased out among most fighting game franchises such as Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, but a new IP starting without what’s now seen as a basic feature of the genre was a definite miss. The game as a whole was fairly barebones at release, featuring only a few relatively shallow modes to offer players.
Likewise, the characters themselves were equally as scarce, with the total of 15 playable characters only being reached after DLC added more to the roster. Despite their unique appearances, none of these characters really stood out, either. These problems kept ARMS from being more than decent, but a sequel could easily fix these issues to make itself into an absolute gem.
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The first step in making an ARMS sequel surpass the first is to make sure that it has a plethora of content and modes at launch. A Story mode or Arcade mode that fleshes out each of the characters would also be optimal, otherwise, no one will ever care. The original game was made with the erroneous idea that all of the characters were protagonists, which doesn’t work in fighting games.
These story modes should give a reason to care about this universe while developing the characters in a fun way and further making them unique. It could also incorporate whatever was planned for the comic book. Speaking of characters, there needs to be a plethora of them at launch, with at least 20 being optimal. From there, more can be added as DLC, but players won’t put up with having to download what should have been there already.
The gameplay should also be refined somewhat, honing in providing a solid fighting engine that’s both unique without being gimmicky. From there, focus can also be placed on the game’s presence in fighting game tournaments, cementing it as a real contender against Capcom, SNK and Netherrealm Studios’ titles. Having the game released before the Switch is officially replaced would also be for the best, having the console’s last hurrah circling back to one of its earliest titles. Nintendo apparently wants to continue to build new IPs, but they’d be foolish to just let this one die after one attempt. The above steps are absolutely necessary if Nintendo truly wants to make anything of the franchise, otherwise, it’ll end up among the likes of Chibi Robo.
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About The Author
(998 Articles Published)
Timothy Blake Donohoo is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where he majored in Communication and minored in Creative Writing.
A professional freelance writer and marketing expert, he’s written marketing copy and retail listings for companies such as Viatek.
In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing video games, watching documentaries and catching up on the latest Vaporwave and Electro-Swing musical releases.
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