This weekend I drove with some close friends of mine all the way down from Seattle to San Jose, California for Genesis 4; one of the largest Super Smash Bros. tournaments of all time. This event series is so prestigious in fact, that Nintendo went ahead and helped sponsor the event, and because of this they had a booth with hands-on access to the Nintendo Switch. Getting my notebook and a few good photos courtesy of a new friend, I got in line.
Nintendo provided four full setups of Arms at their booth, for 1v1 combat. Speaking with the hosts, they laid down some pro strats to success in this exuberant fighting game. How certain stages feature environmental hazards to use to your advantage, and how to apply traditional fighting game logic to counter many popular strategies. The holy trinity of grabs beating block, block beating attack, and attack beating grabs is front and center in Arms, proving that there is more depth and nuance to the game than you might assume.
For this demo, the only control method available was through using a pair of the Joy-Cons and utilizing motion controls. Leaning left, right, forward and back to maneuver your character, and waggling away for spring-powered punches. The Joy-Cons themselves are extremely light, and one of the largest concerns from their appearance in the original trailer and the Nintendo Direct was whether they were too small for comfortable use. While I was unable to use them paired up with the Switch console itself in Handheld mode, nor using a dock to merge the two into a single controller, they rested quite well in my hands. The buttons are placed well, and the sticks are relative in size to the control stick on the Wii’s Nunchuk accessory. In a way, they are the fusion of the original Wii Remote and the Wii Nunchuk, and in retrospect it seems to be a far more logical layout.
While my time with the console was brief, it was thorough for what was on display. I wish I had been able to hold the console itself or utilize a more traditional control method, but for what it is it resolved many of my key concerns about the console. Being able to take the Joy-Cons off and pass them to a friend sounds amazing, and it is. The impressive amount of buttons on each individual Joy-Con allows for an astounding amount of possibility for games, and I am excited to it’s launch on March 3rd.