ARMS is Nintendo’s first new intellectual property on the Nintendo Switch. I’ll be honest, when Nintendo first unveiled the title I wasn’t too interested. The motion controls were a huge turnoff to me. I thought the years of waggle were through — unfortunately, they are not. As expected, the motion controls in ARMS just aren’t very fun; definitely not my preferred way of playing the game. Luckily, ARMS allows you to play with traditional controls, and that’s where the fun begins.
Simple But Stylish
ARMS features the pristine level of cartoony polish we can expect from a first-party Nintendo title. While the Switch isn’t the most powerful console on the block, leave it to Nintendo to develop a breathtaking world for it. Menus are lush and stylish, and the game has an extremely catchy main theme — seriously, it’s been stuck in my head for days. The ten playable fighters are bursting with colors and bubbly personalities. In terms of overall presentation, I’d say Nintendo hit it out of the park.
One thing that first came to my attention in ARMS was that the home screen was pretty barebones. As of right now, ARMS isn’t really the full ‘package’ one might hope for. The game doesn’t offer a multitude of game modes either. Grand Prix is basically the ‘arcade mode’ you would find in any other fighting game. In this mode you fight each character while also taking part in a small handful of minigames. Aside from Grand Prix there is Versus — where you can do 1v1 and 2v2 matches, along with four different mini games.
V-Ball (Volleyball), is one of the four mini games. While the mode is fun, after a couple matches it quickly becomes apparent there’s not much to it. In a way, it feels like a minigame you would play during a round in a Mario Party title. Sadly, all of the Versus game types feel this way. Skillshot is game of target practice with your punches. The fun twist to this mode is while you’re swinging away at these moving targets you have the opportunity to attack your opponent across the field, it can get pretty hilarious if you’re bullying a friend in multiplayer. But once again, the mode starts off strong, then quickly loses its fun factor due the game’s repetitive nature.
Lastly, ARMS also features a Hoops mode and 1vs100 mode. Hoops is my favorite due to the sole reasoning of slamming a friend into a basketball hoop. It’s never not fun! The mode is extremely simple, all you’re trying to achieve in these matches is using a grab attack on your opponent, which leads to you shooting or smashing them into the hoop. Lastly, there’s 1vs100, this mode is pretty repetitive, and also got me wanting more in terms of single-player content. Nintendo has stated they plan to support ARMS with more content post-launch, let’s hope they bring more single-player stuff to the table.
So where does ARMS shine the brightest? The answer is multiplayer. During local and online sessions I constantly found myself on the edge of my seat while trying to beat down close friends and strangers. One thing I noticed is real-life players act much differently than the NPCs during fights. There’s a lot more jumping and level-hazard usage, which ultimately leads to a greater gameplay experience. Speaking of level hazards, they’re one of my favorite parts of ARMS, I only wish they were implemented more into the core gameplay. It’s strange because in most fighting games I despise hazards, but in ARMS, it adds in more chaos I want from a game like this. One level allows you to ride around on a spinning top while jumping and punching your opponent — it’s insanely fun! It reminded me of the final fight scene from Revenge of the Sith. I would have loved if the development team included more unique and fun level hazards, but hopefully some DLC can satisfy that need.
Each ARMS’ characters has a different style of movement, so it’s fun learning each one and finding your favorite. I personally like Ninjara, he can do small teleports around the rink, which is great for dodging attacks. All the characters have unique skills to utilize during battle. For example, Master Mummy is slow but more powerful, and Mechanica can slide when she recovers after a hit. They all have their pros and cons, and each character is just different enough from one another.
When it comes to choosing different arms for your fighter, a lot of them are fun, but I was never really enthralled by the options. A handful of the arms catalog are just different variations of each other. The game lets you collect points to earn a chance to unlock more arms via Skillshot mode; so the arm collecting at least gives the game some replay value.
Does ARMS Have Legs?
Will ARMS be the next major competitive fighter? I don’t believe so. While the game is fun, and multiplayer is a blast, there’s just not much variety or technique to the core gameplay. Why is this? I think it comes down to the fact that ARMS is meant to be played with motion controls. However, there’s just two different forms of attacking — punching and grabbing. Therefore, playing with a controller feels extremely simplistic, whereas playing with motion controls it can seem like a lot more is happening than what actually is. Sure, choosing different arms for your character spices up the gameplay a bit, but not to the degree I would’ve liked.
ARMS might not be the strategic, hardcore fighting game some were hoping for, but If you’re just looking for senseless fun with friends or strangers via online multiplayer, you should definitely check it out.