Watch out, all of you Skylander-selling, Lego-stacking, amiibo-hunting, Disney-loving gamers! There's going to be a new figurine franchise on the block, and its name is Infinite Arms. Developed by the new company Jumo, headed by a team of veteran luminaries, Infinite Arms has the potential to elevate the “toys-to-life” genre with fully customizable “fast toys” that have an almost insane amount of weapon add-ons that give each figurine a unique and personal look.
And when I mean “veteran luminaries,” I'm not kidding around—Keiichi Yano (Elite Beat Agents, Infinity Blade X), Chris Esaki (Gears of War, kill.switch), Tom Abernathy (Halo Reach, League of Legends), and Yasuo Takahama (Transformers and Tamagochi toys). If you're looking for a team to break the mold of the toys-to-life genre, this is the one to do it.
First off, Infinite Arms is made specifically for mobile platforms, both phones and tablets for iOS and Android. That might sound odd since the mere mention of the word "mobile" can turn off players. This is actually a smart move, not only because of the wide marketplace, but also for the lack of competition. You could theoretically play Infinite Arms and another toys-to-life franchise at the same time, though I suspect that the storage for figurines in our collective living rooms may be quite full at the moment. I've got two boxes and two shelves filled to the brim with all of them.
But what Jumo has planned with its figurines is making me think about getting a few more boxes just in case. At launch, Infinite Arms will release with four characters. That might not sound like a lot, but each character has four physical slots for weapons, two on its arms and two on its back. When the developers removed the protective black cloth over all of the figurine prototypes for the game that were displayed on the table beside me, I was shocked by the arsenal of swords, blasters, rifles, cannons, and pretty much whatever else would be appropriate on a mech. I was almost blinded by choice when I had to pick only four of the options in front of me.
Now to be clear, you won't need to purchase anything if you don't want to. You can just use the in-game characters and weapons, though the software variant of them will not be as flexible in stats as the “real” versions. Each character has a LED power button located near the center of its body and connects to the mobile game via Bluetooth. The idea, of course, is that you'll be able to swap weapons easily on the fly – the developers made the analogy to a deck of cards - in case you need a different build for a specific challenge.
Each character and weapon has a unique ID that will help distinguish them from similar copies, making them more valuable in trade and allow developers to see how players are building their characters. So if they need to balance weapons or combos, many of which only become available if you have the right weapons equipped, Jumo can notice it sooner and tweak it in the next update.
Most battles will take place in the PvP arena, where your character roams around an environment with some basic cover. You'll be able to fire each of your equipped weapons a limited number of times, and trigger a special move that works on cooldown. My chosen character Ixion, a blue, armored centaur that looks similar to the Final Fantasy VIII summon of the same name, could unleash a multi-hit wave of electric pulses in a cone across the battlefield. Some of the controls were a bit slow and the environments didn't seem interestingly populated thus far, so the game is certainly a work in progress.
Alongside this is an extensive campaign with weekly episodes that will explain the lore behind Infinite Arms. Each weekly episode will be slowly merged into the backlog so that you can catch up at your own pace.
Jumo plans on having plenty of figurines and weapons in the pipeline, with new weapons offered every two weeks. Figurines are mainly purchased through the in-game store, and with a partnership with Amazon, all of them will be sent to your door (do you want to get Amazon Prime now?). If you're super lucky, the weapon you'll receive will be a special Legendary version. It won't necessarily be more powerful than it would be regularly, but it will have a shiny color and might have a different rate of fire; for instance, blasting three light shots instead of one standard shot. Since these weapons will only be available for a limited time, it's in your best interest to get them sooner than later.
It will be interesting to see what the economy of Infinite Arms will be, especially on eBay and other trading sites. Most toys-to-life figurines available at retail stores are in clear plastic packaging so that you can see them in all of their glory, but given that Legendary versions have a different color, selling it at retail in this way might not be best, if at all. On the flipside, Jumo plans on personally handing out special prizes for any significant tournaments that the community forms, perhaps even creating unique weapons and characters that only the top players can receive.
All of this and more will need to be finalized before Jumo can launch Infinite Arms confidently into the marketplace. The product is definitely worth investing in, and hopefully with more time the software and brand awareness will be developed further with positive word-of-mouth and feedback with the Limited Access beta in Spring. And all by the time the game's full launch in Fall of this year.