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October 16, 2017

When You Switch Upon a Star

*clears throat*

When you Switch upon a star
Makes no difference who you…uh…wait, hold on…

Crap, coming up with Nintendo-themed lyrics for this song is harder than I thought.  So forget it.  I got a Switch.  There.  Enjoy your song.

I should probably back up a bit.  It was a given that I would get a Switch at SOME point, but the circumstances around this acquisition were…surprising, in a sense.  Long story short: I got a text one day from my brother saying he got off work early, and from there pretty much announced he was kidnapping me to go grab a Switch.  Well, I say kidnapping because it sounds funnier, but to be clear: it was essentially my birthday gift, i.e. a tributary peace offering from him to me.  I give him a lot of guff (as he does to me), but every so often he proves he can be a pretty cool guy.

Now, granted, you could take the pragmatic approach and say that he had an ulterior motive: my birthday just happens to be in the same month that Super Mario Odyssey comes out, so it was much a gift for me as a chance for him to play as T-rex Mario.  But hey, I’ll take it.  Pragmatism has its benefits.  So I am -- which is to say, we are -- now the proud adoptive parents of a Nintendo Switch.  More specifically: I/he/we got the Splatoon 2 bundle, which means we’re rocking the hot pink/electric green variant, AKA Ex-Aid colors.  On top of that?  He got himself the Hori-brand controller, because he’ll be damned if he uses the Joy-Cons and/or motion controls.  And in turn, I chipped in to get a very special game I’ve been eyeing for months.

Confession time: I’m not 100% sure how to begin relaying my thoughts on both ARMS and the Switch as a whole right now, because -- as of this post -- I actually haven’t been able to spend much time with it past the initial setup plus a couple of hours of preliminary gaming.  That’s going to change pretty soon, for sure.  But in the meantime?  Let me say this to start: ARMS is exactly what I expected and what I never expected.  It’s exactly what I wanted, yet it’s also something I didn’t even know I wanted.  I know the Switch has some real winners coming down the pipeline (now I’m all set for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and dope-ass tiger pals!), but BOY does ARMS make a strong case for itself.

I’d prefer to save more in-depth thoughts for later, but since I’m listening to the OST as I type this, I might as well go all in.  For the uninitiated: the game tasks you with playing as your stretchy-armed fighter of choice and taking on a verifiable squadron of long-limbed pugilists.  You can think of it as a fighting game -- and I still basically do, to be clear -- but the experience is different from what I expected in the best way possible.

I started out with the Joy-Cons (even if they took some getting used to) and gave the standard controller option a shot later on.  Honestly, I think right now I prefer using the two Joy-Cons.  As bizarre as it seems to control your character with tilts of the wrists instead of the standard analog stick, I think it works.  But because of it, it feels less like you’re controlling a bizarre boxer and more like you’re piloting a mech.  The stages’ full 3D range of movement coupled with the characters’ movement options -- varied among the cast, as you’d expect -- means that your offensive and defensive options are linked to your mobility and how well you use them.  That’s true of other fighting games, sure, but ARMS’ simplified and alternate approach means you can focus on the fundamentals instead of HRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH MUST EXECUTE THIS COMBO WITH PINPOINT FRAME PERFECT PRECISION.

Walk, jump, dash, block, grab, punch, rush -- that’s basically all the combat’s pared down to, and that’s all you really need.  In theory, it’s all about positioning yourself correctly and picking your shots; it remains to be seen how well it works in practice (i.e. if you can succeed with endless flailing), but even from the brief time I spent with the game, I can’t help but feel excited.

Still, ARMS makes me wonder about the Switch as a whole.  Not so much about whether it’ll get the support it needs, as opposed to the Wii U (that’s a concern for sure, though it’s too early to make snap judgments); no, I’m more interested in considering the console’s “have it your way” mentality.  With ARMS, you have multiple control options, along with multiple customizations for each controller type.  Then you can play the game in whatever Switch mode you choose -- on the TV, on its stand with pals or somewhere else, or in your hands as you go out and about (or lay in your bed if you’re feeling decisively lazy).  There are a lot of variables at play here, and it’s kind of overwhelming for me at this point.

My question is whether or not there’ll be optimal modes of play as a whole and/or on a game-to-game basis.  Like I said, I’m using the Joy-Cons with ARMS; I’m not opposed to a standard controller for it, but I legitimately felt more comfortable with the former than the latter.  It just felt right for me -- even if, to be fair, that was just because I put more time into the two mini-dealies.  Still, how you control the game can have a MASSIVE impact on how you play the game.  What happens with Mario Odyssey, I wonder?  What about Xenoblade?  What about the next Smash Bros?  Will devs make ALL their games with the Switch’s myriad options in mind?  And if so, will that be to their benefit or detriment?

It remains to be seen.  A lot remains to be seen.  But for now, I’m interested in seeing what the future of the console and the company holds.

I’ll say this much, though: I’m rooting for the Switch.  I’ve said a hundred times before that I hope Nintendo gets the third-party support it needs and deserves, so that its library doesn’t look so empty day in and day out.  But on top of that, I want there to be a platform for devs to have the freedom to explore.  We need a pricing/development tier between the bank-busting AAA heavyweights and the labor-of-passion indie lightweights.  It’s my sincere hope that the Switch becomes a haven for the mid-tier developers, so that they can make medium-sized games of varying types without worrying about whether or not they’ll go in the red if something goes wrong.  It’s a lofty hope, I know.  Still, I am the Eternal Optimist.  Expect nothing less.

And that’s about all I’ve got for now.  More Switch stuff to come out in the future, especially once I get some more time with ARMS.  Beyond that?  I’ve got it in me for one last post on Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, so look forward to that (hopefully) this Thursday.  Maybe I’ll get a Danganronpa V3 post out after that, too.  And from there?  Well, there is ONE thing I’ve been mulling over.  But we’ll see how it goes.  I don’t know -- it feels like the more I think about it, the more I seem like I’m the perfect candidate for a restraining order.  But we’ll get there when we get there.

That’ll do it for now.  Thanks for reading, see you next time, and always remember: Min Min’s the best, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


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