Get in the game with this interview from the creators of ARMS!
During this year’s E3 conference, Nintendo Australia’s own Kirsty Sculler was fortunate enough to sit down and chat with two of the creative minds behind ARMS, Yabuki-san and Ishikawa-san.
Find out everything they had to share in the interview below!
Kirsty Sculler: I’m sitting here with the producer of ARMS, and the art director for ARMS, Yabuki-san and Ishikawa-san. Thank you very much for your time
Yabuki-san: Thank you
Ishikawa-san: Thank you
Kirsty: Yabuki-san, what was the biggest inspiration when creating – or developing – ARMS?
Yabuki-san (via translator): So for me, the whole idea of ARMS started with basically a combination of two elements: wanting to have arms that stretch, and a behind-the-back camera.
Kirsty: So what was the most difficult part of creating or developing ARMS?
Yabuki-san (via translator): I mean it’s hard to say what was the biggest challenge, because I think in a way all of it was challenging? Although I would say when Mr Ishikawa came up with the kind of revolutionary idea for having the characters have those stretchy arm designs, that was great but also at the same time it meant “ok, well we have to make all new characters now, and we have to make this entire new world.” So at the same time that was the start of – in some ways – the difficulties for us as well.
Kirsty: Ishikawa-san, what is your favourite element of designing the characters in ARMS?
“Figuring out…what each character’s arms should be made of, was a really fun part of the development and the creation experience.”
Ishikawa-san (via translator): As Yabuki-san mentioned before, obviously the characters in this game have those stretchy arms, but figuring out how to express that in each character - like what each characters’ arms should be made of - was something that was a really fun part of the development and the creation experience.
Kirsty: The colours of the characters – and the colours in the game – are so vibrant. There’s the bright blue of Spring Man, and the bright green of Helix. Why did you choose those bright colours?
Ishikawa-san (via translator):So there are kinda two big reasons I would say. One was that we wanted each character to have their own key colour; their own colour that represented them within the game. And the other is that while we definitely consider this a serious, proper fighting game, we also want it to be very fun. So to create that kind of fun atmosphere, we wanted to use a lot of popping colours.
Kirsty: Well speaking of fun…what has been your favourite reaction to the game at E3?
“Going around and looking at people actually playing the game, I noticed everyone’s got these smiles on their faces, but then you look down at their arms and they’re seriously going for it”
Ishikawa-san (via translator): I think for me just going around and looking at people actually playing the game, I noticed everyone’s got these smiles on their face, but then you look down at their arms and they’re really seriously going for it – really punching – and that combination of having that smiling face and the arms just going crazy, and being really into it, just made me really happy to watch that.
Kirsty: And you Yabuki-san?
Yabuki-san (via translator): We tried to make this a game that was very easy to get into but then is also very deep and has lots of more advanced techniques that can come up. Yesterday in the tournament I saw a lot of people playing, and they demonstrated a lot of these different advanced techniques, which made me really happy to see that this game is going to develop, and the level of play is going to continue to develop. And I think we were able to get that message across; that ARMS has a lot of depth.
Kirsty: Yabuki-san, what was the most exciting part of working with the Joy-Con and the Nintendo Switch in developing ARMS?
Yabuki-san (via translator): I mean for me, as the developer, it’s always very exciting when you get a prototype of new hardware. When you get things in their early stage they’re obviously in quite different shape then what they’re eventually going to be. Picking it up and playing it and thinking “ok actually, if this was just shaped a little bit differently it might be better” and then having those discussions with the hardware makers was something that was very fun for me.
Kirsty: Ishikawa-san, what was the inspiration for the art direction in ARMS?
“That kind of combination of things that are familiar with these fantasy elements was a big inspiration”
Ishikawa-san (via translator): We wanted to make sure this was all going to be new design and new art. So rather than there being one big influence, it was a lot of different elements taken from a lot of different places. Something we were very conscious of was wanting to take things that were familiar, be it in fashion or I guess kind of everyday objects, and then we obviously have the different motifs of the stretchy arms - like there’s the spring, or the noodles, or the chains for Ninjara.
Mixing those elements together; for example for Min Min, making her knit cap being an upturned ramen bowl; or Ninjara making his top knot be a ninja star or shuriken. So that kind of combination of things that are familiar with these fantasy elements was a big inspiration.
Kirsty: Ishikawa-san, there has a been a lot of fun, fan-created artwork for ARMS characters. What message would you give to artists who are inspired by the art style of ARMS?
“The whole world of ARMS is such a new thing…it’s really going to be something that’s curated with the fans….”
Ishikawa-san (via translator): I’m impressed I have to say, seeing all this different art out there; I’m very, very happy. And since they [fan artists] come up with lots of different poses and different situations that honestly, we on the development team wouldn’t think of, we really enjoy looking at them. The whole world of ARMS is such a new thing; obviously we’re putting out a lot of our own expressions in that world, but I think it’s really going to be something that’s curated with the fans as well.
Yabuki-san (via translator): For us that fan art is a really big source of energy….every morning in the office, someone will be like “hey I found this fan art yesterday” and we’ll all look at it and share it, and it’s very, very fun but it’s also very energising for us.
Kirsty: Yabuki-san what is your best advice for players of ARMS?
“When you’re not doing a Rush attack you should be much more deliberate, punching one arm a time just to make sure you’re not leaving yourself open.”
Yabuki-san (via translator): The first thing I would say is since you know this is a game that you play using both of your hands, one thing I really notice is that people kind of end up using both hands at the same time, kind of over-punching. But that’s something you should really only do when you activate the Rush. When you’re not doing a Rush attack you should be much more deliberate, punching one arm a time just to make sure you’re not leaving yourself open.
Kirsty: Very good advice! Question for both of you; stretchy arms are very useful when battling in ARMS, but they would be very useful in real life as well. So if you had stretchy arms like an ARMS character, what would you do with the arms?
Yabuki-san (via translator): Well sometimes on a TV or a monitor you have to go behind to set up some specific things, and that’s always really annoying. I think being able to use a stretchy arm to just get right behind there, that would be good. You know it’s something that comes up a lot with the equipment we have at work, we’re always having to get behind things and like pull things out…if we just had stretchy arms it would be so much easier.
Ishikawa-san (via translator): As an artist I always have to try and express myself, and sometimes it’s hard to express yourself with words and I end up doing a lot of gestures. But I think if I had stretchy arms I could do even bigger gestures, and I could be even more persuasive. Although they might actually get out of view from people….
Yabuki-san (via translator): But they would be really good if you were giving a big talk or a big presentation in a very large room in front of a lot of people….
Kirsty: That’s very, very true. As we sit here today at E3, ARMS has launched in Australia and New Zealand. So fans in Australia and New Zealand are playing ARMS right now…what message would like to give to fans who are playing ARMS in Australia and New Zealand?
Ishikawa-san (via translator): Obviously this is a game that we’ve had to create lots of new characters for and I’m hoping that people get to know those characters very well. I’m hoping that people start out and they try all the different characters and they slowly find their favourite, and really come to love and enjoy that character, and hand-in-hand with that really come to love and enjoy the ARMS world as a whole. So I hope everyone loves it!
“Taking what is now a very small thing – the ARMS community – and making it a big thing…that’s going to require effort from everyone. It’s going to require effort from the fans as well, so I hope people really get into it and spread the gospel of ARMS”
Yabuki-san (via translator): And in terms of getting good at the game as well, if you use all of the characters, then when you’re fighting against that character you’ll know what their weaknesses area and what their strengths are….so in addition to what Ishikawa-san is saying, if you want to get good at the game you should try out all of the characters.
I would say that since ARMS is a completely new game – the gameplay is completely new, the art is completely new, the sound is completely new – it’s a game that not a lot of people know yet, and not a lot of people are going to know for a while…so I definitely want to keep the momentum up and hope that in the future ARMS can be really well-known to a lot of different people with a lot of people playing it…but that is also something that’s going to be a bit further in the future.
Taking what is now a very small thing – the ARMS community – and making it a big thing, that’s going to require effort from everyone. It’s going to require effort from the fans as well, so I hope people really get into it and spread the gospel of ARMS. I think if a fire gets lit under ARMS in New Zealand and Australia that’ll be really great!
Kirsty: Well thank you so much Yabuki san and Ishikawa san for your time…we’re very excited for ARMS in Australia and New Zealand, so thank you very much.
Yabuki-san: Thank you
Ishikawa-san: Thank you
To find out more about the hit fighting game ARMS, check out the official gamesite below: