When Nintendo unveiled 1-2-Switch and Arms at its Switch presentation on January 13, viewers watched uncomfortably while they reflexively tightened imaginary wrist straps. We still remember the Wii's deluge of "waggle" games, after all. When a torrent of crap sloshes around your ankles, you don't soon forget the experience.
So I was nicely surprised at how much fun Nintendo's Arms offered me (that's the game Arms; I did not actually receive a big wrap-around hug from a Nintendo representative, though I would never turn one down). It's a hyper-colorful boxing game in same vein as Punch-Out!!, and unlike most of the waggle games that disgraced the Wii, you can't simply flail everywhere and hope to win. You need to watch your opponent's moves, then act and react accordingly.
I played as Spring-Man, who's come a long way since his stint as one of Dr Wily's lower-tier Robot Masters. You hold the two halves of the Joy-Con in your fists, trigger-side up. Your character punches when you do: They throw a right punch when you jab right, and a left punch when you jab left. You can even punch inwards to make your character curve their blow.
If you lash out with both fists, you try to grab your opponent with both arms. If your attempt lands, you do extra damage to your foe.
But hitting your rival isn't easy. They can dodge, jump, and block – and so can you. Punches can even be executed from the air, which lets you rain down the hurt from above.
Even if you manage to layeth the smack down once, the AI-controlled opponents become smarter in the second round. You start off closer to one another, making it harder for you to perform a nimble maneuver early in the match. Old tricks that carry you through the first round aren't as effective the second time around.
Arms is a lot of fun to play, plus its colorful and boasts new IP – something Nintendo is always in need of. Its main problem is that it didn't appear to offer a lot of depth, even if Nintendo promised otherwise at its Switch presentation on January 12. There could be more to Arms than slugging it out with foes and occasionally destroying property, but the game is holding all that content close to its chest (if that extra content exists at all). It's a shame Arms isn't a pack-in game, because it'd shine as a showcase demo for the Switch's Joy-Cons.