Arm Joe is a doujin game adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables in a highly unlikely genre, the 2D fighter. The title is a pun on the Japanese title for Les Misérables, "Ah, Mujou" (Ah, Cruelty).
from 5 ratings
Date of Release:
Single and multiplayer
2D Fighter Maker
|Also try:||Streets of Rage Remake, Sumotori Dreams|
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Once the novelty wears off, however, what’s left beneath is a rather unpolished and utterly broken fighter. Each of the eleven characters sports an impressive repertoire of combo attacks, special moves, and super arts, which are relatively easy (if unwieldy) to pull off. Unfortunately, the game’s input detection is severely unreliable, with frequently delayed execution stemming from the game’s lack of canceling – every move, every button press must fully complete its animation before the next attack begins, making it difficult to time chains or juggles correctly. Instead, it’s easier to spam heavy attacks and over-the-top (and frequently insta-kill) dial-a-combos, taking similar advantage of Arm Joe’s wildly unpredictable damage values – one character’s standard projectile may inflict as much as another’s thirty-hit super art.
Such behavior can normally be ascribed to novice play, but I maintain that strategic approaches are intentionally discouraged. By design, Arm Joe’s combat is as inscrutable as possible; epileptic particle effects, hitsparks and screen flashes distract or even obscure the fighters themselves, transforming super art setups into a literal guessing game. What’s more frustrating is the computer’s complete willingness to abuse this flaw, cornering opponents repeated mid-animation grapples; in the cases of characters lacking cross-ups, escape and improbable comeback – a necessity for any decent fighting game – is simply impossible. Even in situations that should end in double K.O.‘s, the game’s inability to calculate damage quickly enough often leads to one character triumphing over the other, even as his health bar empties out during the victory pose. Just…unbelievable.
Yet through this all, there was also a keen sense of a tongue in cheek; Arm Joe exudes a presence I refer to as ‘jank’, an intentional and endearing mediocrity that only further cements my fondness. Perhaps, being such a ludicrous game concept, it is erroneous to judge it seriously. Indeed, upon further examination, Arm Joe is a clever parody of the 2D fighting genre – what with bastardized historical drama (Samurai Shodown), hundred-hit combos (Killer Instinct), robotic palette-swaps (Marvel vs. Capcom) and frustratingly overpowered final bosses (I can’t even decide where to begin…) – and brings a unique sense of humor, be it Thénardier’s laughably out-of-place Looney Tunes aesthetic, Colette’s canonically faithful reliance on Valjean during fights or the mock insanity of the various super arts (raining policemen, French kung-fu zombies, a rabbit-driven clown car, etc.) As a fighting game, Arm Joe is far on the lower echelons of doujin fighters; but for what it truly strives to be – a clever lampoon and infinitely amusing novelty – it’s the best of show, and something everyone should subject themselves to, however briefly.
NOTE: Windows 7 users may experience some crashes while running this game. I’ve had some success turning on “Read-only” in the game’s Properties, but with mixed results.