ARMS Preview Thoughts

What are your thoughts on ARMS?

Splatoon 2 looks like a logical iteration on the original (which sold surprisingly well. 4m sales, more than every metroid game). I like the addition of dodging and the new weapons and other powers. Having a more conventional control style will probably help too.

I’m still reviewing footage of ARMS and you’ll get my full analysis in a later ask. I think it’s an interesting experiment, and legitimately a way of making a 3d fighting game that fully uses the 3d space, since you have the punches moving through 3d space and you can move left right, forward back, up and down, to go around these punches that are moving rather than suddenly having hitboxes appear in 3d space, so moves have this transitional property through space, controlling a slice of space over time, meaning that it can connect sooner or later with the opponent depending on distance and they can be moved around rather than being totally locked on to the opponent, reducing it to a 1d interaction of being in range or not, you need to hit the 2d space the opponent will be in, and still factor in range because it determines how soon the attack will hit. (I’m aware this is worded kind of confusingly, it’s hard to explain without diagrams and further explanation of the contrast to other fighting games). I don’t know whether it’ll all work out, but it’s interesting, at least as interesting as Divekick.

Also motion controls aren’t required, and the actual punch inputs are totally digital (choose to punch, choose to tilt right, neutral, or left), even in the motion control setup. So it’ll actually be possible to play it with a reliable controller with no loss of fidelity.

And it’s funny how much they said depth and deep in referring to this game. Plus they referenced in a longer play video how fighting games are RPS, and mentioned the basic hit, block, throw RPS loop of traditional fighters, which this replicates.

Difference from this and traditional fighters though is that you can react to your opponent’s punches when they throw them, though maybe you can move closer to them and get something resembling the midrange fireball game from SF.

What do you think about ARMS?

Okay, I’ve been watching footage and thinking it over.

So lets go over all the options:

First you pick a character, that character has 3 different types of gloves, which you can equip one of to each arm.

You can flick either hand to throw a punch, then twist the nunchuck to curve it to the left or right. You can hold the hands across to block. Then you can flick both hands at once to throw (which far as we know can’t be curved, and moves at the same speed as a regular punch).

In terms of movement options, there’s a dash that goes any direction, and works in the air, which I think has iframes. There’s a jump, which can go over punches, and you can jump off trampolines in the environment too. Some characters can jump in the air multiple times, some can’t.

The arms can hit each other, and there is a priority system in play, so heavier arms can outprioritize the lighter ones, hitting them out of the way. Arms of the same weight will clash and both be hit out of the way.

Getting hit does trigger hitstun, which cancels the punches you currently have out, so you can be counterhit and combo’d.

Contrary to what the guy says, I don’t think this is totally a game of rock paper scissors like divekick or traditional fighting games are, mostly because while your moves can counter each other, the actual punches are so slow that you can see them coming from a mile away. Fighting games enforce their RPS by being so fast that you cannot react to your opponent’s attack. Defense by contrast seems really easy, you have these fast dashes and blocks, but I think you’re not allowed to use them while attacking, so that suggests that the trick is to not attack, and when you do, make it a throw, since that’s as fast as a punch, and you can’t block it.

The RPS loop of traditional fighting games is attacks beat throws, beat blocks, beat attacks. In this game it seems that attacks will go straight through throws instead of clashing, but what I can predict is people blocking, then dropping their block and attacking as soon as they see a throw.

Ignoring that, it seems like the attacking strategy is to not so much guess where they’ll move as just continually set up difficult situations for them to move around, sort of similar to how I played Brawl with Snake. Try throwing out punches that cover space and hope they screw up and get hit instead of going through the hole in your offense.

One thing that might shake things up through is similar to Divekick, if you get closer, then your punches have less travel time, so you can reduce the amount of time they have to react, resulting in something that may look more like a traditional fighting game. So the meta might be to move in close to get guaranteed unreactable hits, versus punishing them for trying to move in close.

I think the naming is super-bad and art style isn’t very appealing.

The timer uses actual seconds instead of fighting game seconds, so the rounds are over really quick. I guess they didn’t get the memo. (I thought the rounds were a bit fast, so I timed it with a stopwatch and the seconds matched up exactly)

Blocks deflect attacks as if they had been hit. The ninja guy apparently gets more frame advantage on block than other characters (surreal to hear a nintendo rep say frame advantage, most smash players don’t know what frame advantage is).

You can power up your next punch for status effects by either guarding for a period of time, or at the end of dashes (might be character specific). In flurry mode, all your punches are powered up and have shorter recovery, but you also seem to have a slower rotational speed in flurry, so if they dodge, you get fucked. Powered up punches can have status effects, different hitboxes, different speed, and so on.

The combos seem really simple, like 2-3 hits max. 1 setup, 1 linker spaced shortly after, one finisher connecting right before hitstun wears off. Some attacks get more hitstun when powered up, so they can connect for a 4 hit combo probably. During flurry of punches mode it seems like the more basic gloves will just autocombo, and you need to time back and forth in the right rhythm to combo with the more advanced ones. Throws seem more powerful than individual hits, but less than combos, doing 150 damage, where the strongest attacks seem to deal 100, reasonable balance of power there.

My kind of internal picture of how the game works is that it’s actually more like a 2d game. Imagine that your character is moving left, right, up and down on a plane, and the incoming hitboxes intersect that plane once they reach you, and you can move in those 4 directions to get around them. So it’s primarily a 2d dodging game, kind of like Space Harrier or Sin and Punishment, and you have 2 hands, so you can put 2 hitboxes on the opponent’s plane, and because the hands can be different, they can cover different stretches of space on the opponent’s plane. You can fire them out of sync, so you can use one to push them to dodge, then fire the other slightly after to catch them in the place they’ll move to, which might represent a true unreactable RPS type counter, since they need to commit to the dodge in a reactable space, but cannot determine where the next attack hits until after they’ve committed. I drew a diagram below that will hopefully make some degree of sense for how I picture it, including some situations. Imagine it as an orthographic projection. A comparison to the book Flatland might be apt.

arms hitbox space.png

Overall the system seems to work. Obviously the ability to block, and then react to throws as they happen is worrying, but then you can get in close to make the throw unreactable (or mix up with an attack), so it might all work out. So if nothing else, we might get a fighting game that works, but I can say with certainty that it’s not as deep as Street Fighter 2.


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