Back when I reviewed Arms, I found a game that felt fairly bare. While the core fighting was strong, most of the characters consequently felt the same; their nuances not adding up to much aside from a couple characters (Helix and Barq & Byte for example). Updates have come and gone, improving the game's overall balance. Yet with yesterday's new Version 3.0 update, Arms may have gotten its best fighter yet.
The candy-armed adorable clown Lola Pop has joined the ranks. Not telegraphed in any prior Arms content (unlike Max Brass, who is the boss for the Grand Prix campaign), Lola Pop feels like the first true new character to the game since its launch in June. Since then, fan-favorite Splatoon 2 came out and Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 are not too far ahead. Arms, it seems, got lost in the shuffle. The update makes it worth picking up again though if you've been itching to toss some stretchy limbs.
Lola Pop is the rare fighter that doesn't feel like a different version of another. (For instance, when Max Brass released in July I noted that he felt like a "stronger Spring Man.") She puffs up like an inflatable balloon when guarding, absorbing all hits flung her way. Her particular arms are the Funchuck (which has a spinning nunchuck attached), the Biffler, and the Clapback, the game's second shield-like arm similar to what Helix has in their default arsenal. Clapback has the ability to deflect a foe's punches, sending them launching back towards themselves. (I won a Party Match with someone hitting the shield, and landing a killing blow unto themselves.) While she moves fast and has the ability to bounce when inflated on defense, she does have slower default arms than other fighters.
In one of the few rounds where I played as her, I left her Clapback shield hanging down below before jumping overhead and flinging the Funchuck at the enemy's direction. After knocking them back I puffed up on guard, absorbed an attack and grabbed them immediately after. The slowness of the arms meshed with the fast bouncing and guarding of Lola Pop's character makes her feel strangely like a heavy character akin to Mechanica or Master Mummy, yet with the fluidity of a lighter character. After all, Lola Pop is the rare character who gets additional mobility through blocking. The mix makes her an interestingly dynamic fighter. Her leaps are high, on the second highest tier according to her official stats (on other stats, both "sweetness" and "inflatability" are maxed out); her speed is average, her weak spots will take some getting used to.
All tossed together, Lola Pop feels like the first true middle-tier character in a roster separated largely by light and heavy characters. She has a lot of traits on both ends of the spectrum, alongside her wholly new arms that she brings to each battle.
Additionally in the Version 3 patch, the ability to customize controls for analog play has finally been implemented. No longer will players have to click in the left analog stick to block on the JoyCons (as I said in my review, its most annoying aspect), now players can customize the controls to their liking. When I booted up the game today—the first time I've touched it since July, to be honest—the first thing I did was remap my Rush and Block buttons. While motion controls still are superior, the ability to reroute controls to players' liking definitely makes analog a not-abhorrent option anymore.
With Lola Pop's arrival also comes the new candy-themed map Via Dolce. The map isn't quite as exciting as a lot of the other maps in the game, but it has some destructible goodies in the environment at least. Another update, in addition to miscellaneous balance changes for characters and their arms (like Master Mummy, who's "ARM size has been increased thanks to intense training"), there's now the ability for all players who have completed Grand Prix on Level 1 to have access to Ranked Matches now. Previously only players who had gotten past Level 4 could play.