Arms is the next big title for the Nintendo Switch, and it's right around the corner. Ahead of the game's release on June 16, we spoke with Arms producer Kosuke Yabuki and art director Masaaki Ishikawa about the game. We discussed a number of topics, like what it means to wake up with extendable arms one morning, why everyone is already obsessed with Twintelle before the game even is even out, and whether or not we can ever expect to see a cameo by Luffy of One Piece fame (we won't).

Game Informer: What did the earliest version of Arms look like?

Kosuke Yabuki: Arms is one of the many prototypes of things. We’re always trying to make new things at Nintendo, and this is one of them. Initially it was a much more simple game with shorter characters who had devices attached to the ends of their hands, but even at the beginning, the camera was still behind the back of the character and that hasn’t changed. We were thinking when making a fighting game, it’s really important, the distance you have between you and your opponent, but it might be difficult to see that difference when the camera’s behind the back of the player. So, with these extending arms, we were working hard to see if there’s anything we could do – any sort of new ideas that we could do – to make that easier. And we officially kicked off the development of this project when we were looking at new techniques and strategies we could have with these extending arms.

How long has it been in development? Did it start as a Wii U game?

Yabuki: Well, we were working on it back when the Wii U was out, but we can’t really say how long the development went. All we can say is that we’ve been working really hard on it.

Did Punch-Out!! serve as an inspiration for Arms? Was there any overlap between Nintendo's boxing franchise and Arms? Or did Arms begin as a totally separate idea?

Yabuki: This is a wholly new game. There’s really no connection to Punch-Out!! and actually not even boxing itself.

You don’t consider it a boxing game? Do you consider it a fighting game?

Yabuki: Yeah, that’s right, but we don’t look at it as a 2D fighting game like Street Fighter or Smash Brothers, those genres that already exist. We look it as a totally new kind of fighting game. So, with the extending arms you actually end up with some elements of shooting as well. Both the fighting and shooting elements help to create this totally new fighting genre.

Was using established Nintendo characters ever considered or was it always gonna be brand-new characters from the beginning?

Yabuki: Yeah, we really just thought it would be totally new characters from the beginning. You know, Mario and Link can’t extend their arms in this way, so we thought new characters would be easier for players to get used to for this type of fighting.

What was the goal in the design of these characters?

Masaaki Ishikawa: Since this is a new game, we thought the really important thing would be to express the uniqueness of this game, and the easiest way to convey that to the players is these extendable arms. So, given that this is a fighting game with a couple more realistic character designs for the bodies, we paid close attention to the head-to-body ratio in the character design making it close to that of real people. We worked really hard to make these characters appear solid, muscular-type characters, both male and female. But we also wanted to – for players that are maybe a little more casual – for them to be easy to pick up, and we gave the faces some features that make them more approachable and colors that sort of pop to make this game more approachable for even the casual players.

Why do some people in the world of Arms have extendable arms like this?

Ishikawa: Kosuke Yabuki mentioned earlier, but in the initial prototype, the characters had devices that sort of extended from their elbows, but as we were developing the game, we really thought it felt better for the behind-the-back camera perspective to have the arms extend directly from the base of the shoulder, and that’s how all the characters in this game ended up with arms that extend from there.

In the fiction of Arms, can people elect to have extendable arms? Can they have surgery to do that? Or is just certain people have these arms?

Ishikawa: Some parts of this are still secret. I can’t really tell you everything, but what I can say is it’s not something that they can elect for – not something that you would get surgery for, to replace your arms. It’s possible that some characters have had this since birth and it’s also possible that, for some characters it just suddenly...one day, they woke and were different. So, there are actually, really several different possibilities that could be the cause for this. So, aside from Helix, all the other characters like Spring Man, Ribbon Girl, and Min Min – these are just regular people with extendable arms and not cyborgs or anything like that.

For those characters that wake up and suddenly have extendable arms – is that scary? Do they have to enter these tournaments now? Is that just the direction of their life at that point?

Ishikawa: Well, I’m sure I’d be surprised and I may even be a little panicked, but in the world of Arms, the Arms Fighting League is super popular, and so for them, while they may be surprised, they also would probably be pretty excited that they can now enter that fighting league. So the fact that they would be excited to be able to enter the fighting league just goes to show how popular and how many people – the fans that you see in the stages – how excited they would be to become one of these fighters. It’s a super big honor to be one of those fighters.

Yabuki: Outside of the Fighting League, it would also be super convenient for your daily life to have those extendable arms.

They can pull their arms in to have them just be normal arms when they’re not fighting each other, right?

Yabuki: The way we think about it is that outside of fighting, they could also extend it for whatever purpose they might have, but they can also pull them back in to be more regular arms.

For more on Arms, like how Yabuki's history with Mario Kart affected development and Twintelle's surprise popularity, head to page two.