Late last month, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Nintendo “Switch & Play” event held in Toronto and be among the first to get to experience the Nintendo Switch. The event was part of Nintendo’s multi-city tour providing free hands-on playtime with the device and its software for fans, gamers, families, and anyone else curious.
With spaces limited, the public let in on a first-come basis, and me not living in Toronto proper, it was a pretty early and long day for me. I assume my special “My Nintendo” invitation for being a super fan to try it out a couple days in advance of the general public got lost in the mail, Nintendo? Maybe next time? Please? 🙂
Once I was guaranteed a spot to try out the device, I was determined to try to make the most of it in the two hours I granted to be graced the Switch’s presence. My main goal was to experience every controller and play style available for show. Oh, and also play The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, of course.
My first stop after a quick detour to the Zelda booth to secure a separate ticketed to return to play it, was to take a look at ARMS. I attended the Switch event with my brother, and we started the afternoon with a few rounds of a one-on-one gesture-powered boxing match. After a quick tutorial session, we were down to business. We played holding the Joy-Con controllers upright and tapping the top-mounted trigger buttons. Each Joy-Con corresponds to an extendable Slinky-like arm for your playable character; with it, you can perform some basic actions like dodge, block, and punch. Choosing your character’s arms to fit your play style adds enough variety as well.
The Joy-Cons are surprisingly lightweight to hold and use. They felt great to hold and not in the way while making quick hand motions and button presses to fight. I don’t think HD Rumble was leveraged here, but what rumble was felt was sufficient and natural feedback. The gyroscopes and 1:1 movement options are like a more elegant Wii Motion Plus. It didn’t feel clunky, and I had to be precise – I wouldn’t get very far by waggling. Being able to curve your punches, Inspector Gadget-style, at your enemy is the key.
This game has the potential to be Nintendo’s next big franchise. It is deceptively simple on the surface, with a surprising amount of depth and nuance if you really get down into it and master the controls. Nintendo staff would bring up particularly skilled players to a central stage and broadcast them playing on the big screens around the room. Like Splatoon, the game appears to be something Nintendo is hoping to eventually catch on in the eSports circuit, but still have a wider mass-market appeal through its variety of quirky, well-designed characters.
I enjoyed my time with the game, and it was likely the game I enjoyed the most on the show floor. It was a great way to demonstrate the Switch as a true successor of the Wii, but the little I played of the game felt like first pass at a great idea. It is fun and has a lot of promise, but something a little more fleshed out in the eventual sequel or deluxe version is probably worth waiting for. Then again, I only played it for ten minutes – so, what do I know?