Gamers across the internet have been largely skeptical of ARMS, the upcoming multiplayer fighting game on the #NintendoSwitch - with some claiming it is merely a shallow repeat of Wii Boxing with limited critical and commercial appeal.
It's easy to see why such a judgement has been passed onto ARMS from initial reveal: the cartoon visuals, the names of the characters (Spring Man? Come on!) and the total lack of information we were given about gameplay depth and different modes led to many - myself included - convinced that ARMS was a quirky title doomed to irrelevance and comparable to other #Nintendo projects like Wii Music (remember that one?)
After doing more research, however, I now believe judgement on ARMS was passed prematurely. ARMS has the potential to be a surprise hit (pun intended) for the Nintendo Switch, and this is why.
1. The Time is Right
The Nintendo Switch is selling brilliantly, no doubt about it. The device is sold out across multiple major markets: an especially impressive feat considering it achieved this during the traditionally quiet month of March.
However, as captivating as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is, all these #Switch owners will shortly be looking for new games to play on their system. Super Bomberman R is already the best-selling in the franchise from the past 20 years: would this still have been the case if there was a larger number of games to play on the Nintendo Switch at launch? I think it's unlikely.
A high install base combined with a relatively small number of games results in large numbers of people willing to try out unfamiliar titles they may otherwise have not given a second thought.
#ARMS is due to release in Spring 2017. Aside from Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, this will be essentially the peak of the Nintendo Switch "drought" period before E3 and a plethora of exciting titles later in the year. This choice of release date is likely to work in ARMS' favor: not being surrounded by other high-profile releases could result in more gamers being willing to give it a try.
2. It's Happened Before
It's colorful. It's weird. It has competitive multiplayer. Nintendo hasn't had any previous experience in the genre... I'm not talking about ARMS here! The exact same selling points applied to #Splatoon prior to its release, and there was always a level of skepticism surrounding its ability to compete against the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield. The solution: it didn't! Splatoon has had much more success than anyone really thought it would, and became an instant classic new IP for Nintendo.
You might also like:
- It's Official: The Nintendo Switch is Unstoppable in Japan
- Bendgate: Could This Be Nintendo's Red Ring Of Death?
3. ARMS Doesn't Need to Compete Against Street Fighter
By providing a totally unique and enjoyable gameplay experience, Nintendo was able to make Splatoon a huge hit, to the extent where the Inklings are now appearing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and I would predict in the next Smash Bros too. Many gamers are concerned by ARMS' ability to hold its own in a genre with Street Fighter and Marvel vs Capcom - among others - but I have faith in Nintendo's ability to provide another unique experience that breathes new life into the genre and is fun to play. If Splatoon was innovative and odd enough to survive in a post-CoD world, ARMS has a good chance at life despite the competition.
4. The Game is Shaping Up
Perhaps the most important factor of all: ARMS looks like a genuinely fun game with a lot of potential to be very popular. After the initial reveal and the small amount of information provided, large numbers of consumers dismissed the title and therefore didn't continue following updates on the title.
In the initial event, there were just five characters available: not enough variety in today's fighting game market. There was also only a handful of arm types, leaving some to speculate there would be a lack of depth to the gameplay in ARMS.
In an interview with Famitsu in February, however, producer Kosuke Yabuki confirmed this was only a portion of what would be available in the final release:
There will be more characters, with more arm types. What we have available today is just a portion of what will be available in the full game. You can look forward to more information gradually coming out as the release date approaches.
Yabuki specifically states in this interview that he felt no need to "create another Wii Boxing" and has been making many efforts to ensure ARMS is a fully featured fighting game worthy of any Nintendo Switch owner's time and money.
5. It's Too Early to Call Time-out on ARMS
It's a new title, it looks a bit weird, and we still don't know a huge amount about what different gameplay modes there will be (besides the fact that more are coming) and how the multiplayer will function.
Despite this, for all the uncertainty about ARMS, I believe there are enough factors going in its favor here and I will be very excited to see how the game fares on release. I'm personally not predicting Splatoon-like sales yet, but I believe a few million is very likely, a success by anybody's judgement.
How do you feel about Nintendo's upcoming fighter? I'm excited to hear your opinion in the comments!