It’s widely agreed upon that Nintendo had a fantastic 2017. With the release of the Switch, which has seemingly awoken the sleeping giant from their slumber (also known as the Wii U days), the company is back in the mix and has been killing it thus far.
A strategy Nintendo used to help sell consumers on their newest system was essentially a new, AAA game per month. We got The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to start the system’s life cycle off, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a month or so later, and since the launch, games like Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, Fire Emblem Warriors, and other titles have been released. However, the elephant in the room is a little fighting game called ARMS. Although its sales topped a million pretty early on, it’s seen a decline in popularity, along with a massive stagnation in sales. What happened to Nintendo’s newest IP, and can the company save it?
Like I mentioned above, ARMS still sold over a million units. However, that isn’t enough for a new franchise that Nintendo propped up as a system seller. I mean, the game had a full-blown tournament livestreamed at E3 2017. The hype was there, and it seemed to be doing well for a couple of months. Unfortunately, the game started to be talked about less and less, and here we are, in the holiday season, and virtually no conversation relating to the title is being had.
A few things went wrong with ARMS, most notably its lack of content overall. Though the game is being updated with free DLC, the character roster and stage selection just simply isn’t robust enough to deserve a $60 price tag. And given that there is no story mode, these characters that are oh-so-charming take a back seat to other aspects of the game, which in turn hurts the overall experience. I want to learn more about these characters, because they are so different when compared to other fighting games.
I feel that Nintendo attempted to replicate the success Overwatch had, but ultimately fell short due to ARMS’ lack of depth. Sure, the gameplay is fun for awhile and there are definitely a slew of interesting characters to use, but ultimately the experience felt like a budget title that shouldn’t have gotten the marketing approach that it did.
With all this said, there is definitely still hope for the game and franchise. Nintendo is doing well with the stream of free updates, but if they really want ARMS to be a hit, its sequel, assuming it gets one a few years down the line, must include more content to justify that price tag. Tell us more about each character. Give them legitimate backstories. I’d absolutely love a proper story mode that gives us information about each character. Additionally, the gameplay needs to be fleshed out further. ARMS is an extremely basic game, especially when compared to other modern fighting titles. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but Nintendo needs to keep it in mind when designing levels and stages; ensuring that each map has something unique to it is a must. ARMS has the ability to include incredible creative and wacky levels and characters, and though Nintendo definitely created some weird stuff, I want to see them go all out with new updates or in the currently unannounced sequel.
Nintendo games have charm. Splatoon, Mario, Zelda, they all carry something special, a uniqueness that can’t be replicated by other video game developers. Unfortunately, ARMS didn’t have that. In a year with so many spectacular games, ARMS just couldn’t stand out.