Recently the Evo 2017 games lineup was announced, and although many of the slots were filled by the usual suspects–like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros.–there was one major surprise awaiting us: the ninth and final game in the lineup would be decided by the community.
Fans of Killer Instinct, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Pokkén Tournament, Skullgirls, Windjammers, Mortal Kombat XL, Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, Nidhogg and ARMS are able to vote for their game of choice by donating to Make-a-Wish International through Generosity; at the end of two weeks, the game with the most donations will not only join the main tournament roster in 2017, but also have the opportunity to kick off finals day in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Each and every game in the running is worthy of a place at Evo, and already their communities have leaped into action, raising thousands of dollars for charity. Unsurprisingly, games like Killer Instinct, UMvC3 and Pokkén Tournament have all had terrific starts, but there’s a sleeper pick waiting in the wings.
That’s right. It’s time to get up in ARMS.
What is ARMS?
Ah. Immediately we run into a bit of trouble, because no one is entirely sure of what it is. It could be a deeply unsettling dystopian future in which convicts are forced to wear masks, have their arms replaced with mechanical springs, and are forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of the masses.
Equally, it could be a game about elite athletes at the pinnacle of their physical powers, who rejoice in battling each other for money, honor and the adoration of their throngs of fans. Until it comes out on the Nintendo Switch later this year, we have no way of knowing.
One thing that we do know, however, is that it’s a lot of fun. Bright colorful characters fight it out using their strangely springy arms. There are a whole host of things that you can do, but it seems that the core concept can be boiled down to being Super Punchout if it were made by Dhalsim. Pleasingly, even the earliest videos we’ve seen suggest that all the core fighting game fundamentals are there; spacing and footsies are key to success, and you’ll have to perfectly balance the risk and reward of throwing out punches that leave you mostly unprotected.
Those lucky players who have had the opportunity to get their hands on it have come away raving about it, and a surprise visit to Genesis 4 last weekend was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Time and again we’re hearing that there is more to ARMS than meets the eye–but that it’s certainly a whole lot of fun.
When Nintendo are at their best, they take popular gaming genres and turn them on their head. Splatoon was one of the most engaging shooters of the last generation, Mario has been redefining platformer and karting games alike for years, and now Nintendo has turned their attention to reimagining the fighter.
First impressions appear to be that they have done a great job of it. ARMS is fun to watch, and the basics of it are quick to learn. Seeing the cartoony characters leap around the screen isn’t just enjoyable–it’s simple, and makes total sense. There’s a draw here for everyone, not just the hardcore fans who understand how much maneuvering it takes to land a hit.
And make no mistake, just because it appears simple doesn’t means that ARMS is easy.
SRK’s own Sam “Trilby” Foxall got the chance to get hands on and this is what he thought:
“ARMS does look quite promising at this stage, with elements which could mark it out as a successful genre breakaway, much like Splatoon did with third person shooters. It’s certainly fun to play.”
The Power of Legitimacy
There’s something magical about a game being featured at Evo. The very best in the world flock to Las Vegas, and fight to prove themselves. With thousands of players registering for games like Street Fighter and Smash Bros, there’s no doubt that the last man standing has earned their victory. It’s no surprise then, that the words “Evo Champion” hold as much weight as the phrase “World Champion” does in other places. Winning Evo makes you a legitimate great of the game.
And there’s a word there that could give ARMS a massive shot in the arm at the very beginning of its lifespan: Legitimate. Although there are many who are excited to see what the future holds for Nintendo’s idiosyncratic take on a fighting game, there are just as many who are already willing to write it off as a competitive title. By taking the main stage at Evo, many of those fears will be dispelled, and ARMS gets the chance to be taken seriously right from the start. There will be no need to fight the sort of battles that Super Smash Bros. Melee did; by having ARMS at Evo, we immediately legitimize it as a tournament title.
Plus, just imagine how great the player cam would be on finals day. Many players have already stated that the best way to play is with the motion controls, and there is every chance that, come Championship Sunday, we could have the top 8 of ARMS played out by the top players of the game, on their feet and ducking and diving around the stage, throwing out punches and bobbing and weaving to avoid attacks.
Admit it: That sounds like a lot of fun.
Vote for ARMS on generosity.com here. Voting closes at 12:00 PM PST on February 8, 2017.