Eliwood8

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  1. ARMS made waves after its announcement earlier this year, though not just for being a new IP from Nintendo. The bizarre initial trailer left plenty of people scratching their heads at the idea of a cartoonish, motion controlled boxing game. Perhaps the company has been emboldened by the unprecedented success of Splatoon which put a new spin on the online shooter genre, prompting them to try the same with another online-focused arena: fighting games. And in typical Nintendo fashion they couldn't just make a game similar to any other fighter, they've concocted a wholly original take on boxing with a focus on colorful characters and motion control. ARMS takes a big swing at carving another Nintendo niche in a wider genre, but is this game a hit or a miss? ARMS introduces its own bizarre world of boxing where fighters have stretching arms–or, occasionally, hair–and an entire sport has developed around this unique format. It's particularly surprising then that the game itself is relatively light on lore. Characters have backstories but even after completing a grand prix run–the focus of single-player gameplay–there's not a lot of storytelling to be found here. It's too bad since the developers have already established a pretty interesting world to play in, and the truly bizarre characters like Helix are given little context. The good news is the developers have confirmed that more story and lore are coming, perhaps through social media posts, which would be a welcome addition toward rounding out the ARMS experience that is a little lacking at the moment. It shouldn't be surprising then that ARMS is all about the gameplay. Combat in ARMS may seem familiar at first but it is immediately clear upon starting the game that this is something else entirely, especially when using motion controls. Two fighters square off against each other but the style and flow of punching with extendable arms requires more of a focus on reading your opponent and punishing mistakes rather than memorizing combos. It feels like every punch matters, whether it's a strike, a feint, or a block, and timing is more important than ever. Like real boxing battles in ARMS are more like elaborate dances of testing the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent rather than all out brawls like other fighting games. It is far more complex than it might initially appear, and it can also be richly rewarding. This does put the game in the unusual position of being both difficult to learn and difficult to master, though. Especially for a Nintendo game, which tend to be highly accessible with hidden depth, the barrier of entry for ARMS is pretty steep. Sure you can dive in and flail around, but that will barely let you survive level two difficulty in grand prix, much less a match against a seasoned player. And on the higher difficulty levels the CPU is practically precognitive with its punches. To stand a chance in ARMS you have to put some time in even to fully grasp the basics, which does feel a bit discouraging at first. Once you do have the basics down ARMS offers a decent cast of characters with slightly different abilities. Since every character still relies upon the basic concept of throwing out long punches, dodging, and blocking, their unique aspects come up in different ways. For example, Ribbon Girl can jump multiple times for a little extra evasion, and Master Mummy can heal a small amount of HP while blocking. The differences may not seem huge but each character still manages to feel different as you play them, and there's enough variety that you can spend a lot of time just finding your favorite character. As is often the case certain characters feel disproportionately powerful when you start, but with some practice you'll find the roster is nicely balanced. On the flipside of that though is the glove system. Each character starts with three gloves to choose from–and you can equip different gloves on each hand–and each glove has slight differences. Some excel at direct attacks, others are perfect for curved punches, and some have elemental effects when charged. The catch though is that you can unlock every fighters' gloves for every character through a mini-game. Ultimately this gives you more room to customize your play style. Do you like Spring Man's gloves but prefer Min Min's ability to kick away incoming attacks? Once you unlock those gloves for Min Min your play style is up to you. It does take a while to unlock these gloves though since they are randomly awarded, but it adds an important and welcome customization aspect to ARMS. Aside from grand prix there are several side modes in ARMS including team battles, hoops, and skillshot. More than just fun diversions though these alternate modes can actually help develop your ARMS skills. Hoops is all about grabbing opponents so you'll get some good practice with timing your grabs and dodging the opponent's. Skillshot is focused on aim, especially curved shots to hit as many targets as possible, and team battles will have you rethink your spacing habits. These games are a good break from the normal gameplay but they're not bad as training exercises either. Possibly the most important aspect of the modern competitive game: how does the online system stack up? The connection seems great, more stable than several other Switch games including other fighting games. As always your mileage may vary but as far as this review is concerned the netcode is solid. There's also no problem finding opponents online. It seems despite being a bizarre new IP ARMS already has a decent active player pool, plus the game uses a unique lobby system that puts you in a room with several other players then randomly matches you against one another. This party mode includes normal matches, side games, and even a cooperative battle, so even though you are mostly with the same people in the room there's still a good amount of variety. It's also kind of fun just to see what other people are playing as you wait for your next match. Sometimes the wait feels a little too long but it's never a serious problem. If you want to play more seriously though there is a ranked mode where your rating increases or decreases based on your wins. One of the really nice things about ranked is just the fact that matches are in a standard best-of-three format instead of single rounds like party mode. Typically you need some time to feel out an opponent and party mode, despite being less serious by its very nature, sometimes feels too simple. I've gone on a bit too long without directly addressing the controls. By default ARMS is a motion controlled game: punch with the left Joy-Con in hand for a left punch, and same with the right. Since you are using a "thumbs up" hold meaning your thumbs are on the L and R buttons movement is also mapped to motion: lean the controllers left or right to move, and also use tilts to curve and angle your punches. This is a bit of a leap from the Wii Boxing days, and the added complexity makes it hard to handle at first. As the primary control scheme the game was made with motion in mind but players may find the more traditional control scheme more comfortable. Neither control scheme really makes the game any easier though: whichever you choose there is still plenty of practice in your future. The one real problem with the controls though is a lack of customization. With the traditional scheme some commands are oddly placed or at least would simply benefit from giving the player control over button mapping. Customization would probably also help ease in new players who are still trying to get a handle on the controls. The graphics in ARMS look fantastic. It has an exaggerated cartoony style but it plays into the great character design, and the stages aren't half bad either with their decorative scenery and unique features within the ring. Obviously there's some repetition with only ten fighters and a similar number of stages but such is the nature of fighting games. The game does start to feel repetitive when you realize how much the soundtrack relies upon variations on the main theme, but to be fair it's an awfully catchy theme song, plus the other characters songs are pretty fun and bubbly as well. The whole style of ARMS is wacky and colorful but never to an obnoxious degree. ARMS has a decent variety of content, but fighting games are founded upon the replay value of taking on different foes locally and online. In that respect ARMS can last a good long while. More importantly the developers are planning to add more free content to the game in the coming months, much like Splatoon did in 2015. They've already announced a new playable character for next month, Max Brass, so it's good to hear that the game won't go stale anytime soon. ARMS exudes the kind of originality that Nintendo loves to play around with, especially with new IPs. The boxing gameplay is unlike anything you've seen before, and right out of the gate shows impressive complexity and depth. New players will have some trouble cracking into that shell to get into the core of what makes ARMS an intense and thrilling fighting game, but with a little perseverance players will be rewarded with one of the more unusual yet engaging fighting games around. Does Nintendo have another hit new IP on its hands like it did with Splatoon? That's debatable, but for now ARMS is a fun and fresh take on the fighting genre perfect for anyone ready to try something new. Rating: 8 out of 10 Gloves
  2. Dang, if I could only have one special edition bonus I think I'd rather have the art book.
  3. The demo feels like a pretty small part of a larger whole since it kind of seemed to lead you through the very basics of the gameplay, but who knows. I dug it, so I'm in for the full game. That leaves three more on this list that I'm definitely going to get, and three that I might buy. Not bad for a roughly 6 to 9 month release forecast.
  4. Nintendo reminds us again that they're not done with the 3DS yet. I had kind of forgotten about some of these though, and between these and the Switch's games my wallet isn't going to be too happy for the rest of this year.
  5. Heh, reminds me of all of those commemorative cups from Disney films and whatnot that I'd get from fast food places as a kid.
  6. I'm so sick of developers announcing their games over 1,000 years in advance. They did say at E3 that Yoshi and Kirby would be out next year, but Metroid and Pokémon are surprising considering that neither had trailers and Pokémon didn't even get the title screen treatment Metroid did. Hopefully they stay on track, which would give 2018 a pretty stellar lineup already.
  7. Yeah it was a really short turn around. They also announced another River City game, Rival Showdown, which will have a retail release later this Fall which really just makes this whole situation more odd.
  8. ARMS does seem to be in the unusual position of being both difficult to learn and difficult to master, which is especially odd for a Nintendo game. And it's definitely the type of game where you want to go through all the training tips and just plain practice before getting in too deep. I also started on level 3 GP but after losing repeatedly in the first two matches I went down to 2 which was much more doable. I've also done better by just focusing on the characters I liked from the demo–Ribbon Girl and Twintelle–to develop my rhythm in the game. And also like I did in the demo I find the normal controls way more comfortable and effective than motion controls. I feel insanely sluggish when I use motion.
  9. I was talking about the recent 3DS versions if that wasn't clear. VII was brought over three years after it released in Japan, and VIII about a year and a half which granted isn't too bad.
  10. Ah, well open world is a pretty unrealistic dream, certainly as long as normal Pokémon games continue to be wildly profitable. Although maybe Monster Hunter World will help inspire something at the Pokémon Company.
  11. I'm holding out hope for a localization after we got the one-two punch of DQVII and VIII in the past year. Although those were brought over years after they released in Japan...
  12. I haven't bought many amiibo (at least compared to some of you collectors here) but I decided to just treat myself and pre-ordered the Fire Emblem ones and the two Metroid. The others do look really nice but I figured this is enough for now.
  13. Is that not what people want? Or were some people expecting a Stadium/Coliseum kind of game?
  14. Thinking back on it it is pretty impressive how many badges the pumped out for this thing. Now maybe they should focus on making themes/customization for the Switch UI.
  15. Street Fighter II is one of the most iconic titles in video game history. It's widely credited not just for starting the fighting game boom of the 90s but reinvigorating arcades after a lull in popularity in the 80s. So it's not surprising that Capcom has repackaged their golden goose a seemingly countless number of times, from console ports to HD remixes. The latest–and supposedly last–entry in that long line is Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers which finds a fitting home on the Nintendo Switch since the Super Nintendo versions were so successful. In fact The Final Challengers even gives players the option to play in the familiar pixel art style of the SNES. Yes, The Final Challengers is a charming valediction for one of the greats of gaming...it's just a little confusing why it costs $40. I trust I don't have to explain the gameplay in Street Fighter II, so let's get right into the new content for The Final Challengers. First off, the title refers to two new playable characters, Evil Ryu and Violent Ken, the latter of whom is brand new for a mainline SF game, and together they bring the game's roster up to nineteen. Obviously both characters are remixed versions of existing characters, but having a slightly new approach is still a nice addition. Players won't have to learn an entirely new moveset but veterans still have a new character to enjoy. The Final Challengers also makes some slight changes to the game balance by adjusting some of the combo timing and adds some advanced features like techs. It helps the game feel a bit more in line with recent SF games and gives veteran players a slightly different experience. And for the inexperienced the game also includes the "lite" controls option from other recent SF games which makes things easier for the player by mapping special moves to specific buttons or even touch screen buttons when playing in handheld mode so novice players can stand a chance. The Final Challengers is ultimately quite inclusive whether you've been playing for twenty-five years or are just joining the fight. Another new feature for Street Fighter II that was actually in Street Fighter Alpha is buddy battle, a mode that allows two players to team up to fight one opponent. Two-on-one might seem unfair but the partner players share one health bar and must win two rounds to progress, but losing one round means game over. It's fun to have a co-op option in a game like this and makes for a perfect break from normal battles. The downside is the mode is quite short. There are only four battles in this mode–you'll fight Violent Ken, Evil Ryu, M. Bison, and Akuma, in that order–and although you can play on different difficulty levels it would have been neat to see a full arcade mode option with buddy battles. The biggest brand new feature in The Final Challengers is Way of the Hado, a first-person mode where you play as Ryu and execute special attacks with motion controls. Unfortunately it's also the least interesting part of The Final Challengers. It's certainly novel to thrust your hands forward to throw a Hadoken or mime an uppercut for a Shoryuken, but the most important part of a motion controlled game is comfortable, responsive controls, and Way of the Hado is sorely lacking in that respect. Even after adjusting the sensitivity the motions never feel responsive enough, and mapping every action to a physical movement is tiresome after just a few rounds. This side mode is also incredibly repetitive, with only three standard levels and three endless levels which follow the same patterns every time. There is a type of level-up mechanic with growth points so you can power up Ryu's stats–attack power, speed, super attack charge time, etc.–but it doesn't fix the core problems of monotony and uncomfortable controls in Way of the Hado. The Final Challengers also includes a digital artbook with hundreds of pages of artwork from the book SF20: The Art of Street Fighter. It is really cool to see numerous versions of the familiar characters drawn by a variety of artists, and although a physical book might have been even better this is a good way of letting the fans see these designs. The only downside is that the interface is incredibly slow for browsing through the book–one page at a time can be excruciating when there are 250+ pages to see. As mentioned you can change the game's visual settings to either the original sprites or HD artwork, and you can even toggle the audio in the same way. It's too bad you can't flip back and forth mid-match, but that might be disorienting for a fast-paced fighting game like SF. There is also a color edit feature that allows you to customize the appearance of each fighter. You can save up to ten color sets for each character and even use them in online matches. It doesn't have any serious effect on the game but it's a neat addition if you like to play around with customization. Ultra Street Fighter II: The Final Challengers is a hard game to recommend either positively or negatively. Street Fighter II remains a fantastic fighting game with a solid roster of characters and an added online mode here to help extend the game's longevity–though the online stability can be rocky at times. The features that are specifically new for The Final Challengers aren't exactly thrilling, though. Buddy battles and the digital artbook are nice additions and Violent Ken nicely caps off the roster, but Way of the Hado is a complete bust, which makes The Final Challengers perhaps not worthwhile to anyone that has already played any of the many iterations of this classic fighting game. Street Fighter II is still a blast to play, but paying $40 for it in 2017 is a tough sell. Rating: 7 out of 10 Hadokens