ARMS – Review

ARMS is the next game coming to the Nintendo Switch from Nintendo and it is a fun fighting game for all ages. The basic concept of the game is that it is you against an opponent and you are fighting until one of you is knocked out but the spin on it is the arms you will use. There are different arms to choose from and each one will have their own strengths and weaknesses. As you spend time with the game you will discover the best combination of arms to use with what character and then focus on honing your skills.

When you first begin playing ARMS you will start out with the default equipment. This equipment will do really well for you but if you aren’t happy with the default options you can unlock better arms by simply playing the game and earning points. Once you have earned enough points you can go into the “Get ARMS” section and participate in a mini game. Do well in the mini game and you will unlock a piece of equipment for the character you are playing. The first time I earned enough points with Ribbon Girl I participated in this mini game and earned the “Buff” arms. These are great all around gloves that “buff up big.” You can have up to three arms available at any one time before a fight. When you earn something new you will want to go into your setup menu and then select what you think will work best for you. Once I unlocked those “Buff” arms I swapped those out with the “Slapamander” arms which I really wasn’t using to begin with. There appears to be 30 different pieces of gear available in the game with three of them being unlocked at the beginning. If you are a completionist that likes to get everything then it looks like you’ll have to play ARMS for a while to try and unlock everything here.

Like with a lot of Nintendo Switch games, you can play ARMS a number of different ways. You can play using the Joy-cons and have a bit of motion based gaming if that is something you enjoy. This can definitely make for some more frantic (and fun!) gameplay if you are doing this with friends as you become more engaged since you aren’t just sitting on the couch pushing buttons. The motion seemed to work fairly well but there is a bit of a learning curve to it so please keep that in mind. The other method I tried out was playing with the Pro controller. I suspect this is probably how a lot of people will play the game. Using the Pro controller ARMS controlled wonderfully and I was able to string together a nice sequence of wins for myself. As I was playing the game I noticed that ARMS is deceptively deep. If you have seen any of the trailers it probably looks like a really simple game but it is one of those titles where as you get more experience you can develop a killer strategy. Of course you can button mash as well if you so choose but you won’t survive long against someone that has a game plan and knows how to pull off moves. The Pro controller was my preferred method of play while playing solo and then as I mentioned above, playing on the Joy-cons with friends is a good time as well.

There is a Grand Prix mode in ARMS which essentially functions as the game’s “campaign.” The way this was done brought back memories of Street Fighter II, which I also reviewed recently. The story is exceptionally light with not many details. The basic premise is that you have to go through ten fights in the Grand Prix. There is a very small amount of story thrown in during this mode but they could have done so much more. Even the aforementioned Street Fighter II had a bit more story. There are seven different difficulties for you to choose from so pretty much any skill level should be able to play this and be successful. Please keep in mind though that you will need to go through and beat the Grand Prix mode on difficulty 4 (or higher if you so choose) to unlock the Ranked Match mode where you can play online against others in ranked matches. If you don’t want to do that or simply can’t beat the game on that difficulty than you will have the Party Match option available to you which is also online play, it just isn’t ranked and is more for fun. This is a pretty good way, in my opinion, of trying to introduce players to ARMS and the different play styles that exist. The Grand Prix mode probably is a one and done affair though for a lot of people. There really isn’t any depth here and it is more fun playing against another person than it is against the AI repeatedly.

With that said the online modes for ARMS is pretty fantastic. During my time with the online everything seemed to run smoothly and I didn’t notice any lag at all. The competition is already fierce online with me being able to win matches here and there but also getting decimated in some as well. There is also a mode where you can specifically fight online with friends. You can create a lobby here and decide whether you want it to be an open lobby or whether it will require a code that you can give to your friends so that you have only the people you want there in your lobby. It is a pretty cool idea in my opinion although ARMS is obviously not the first to implement it.

If you want to get a little wacky in this game then there is also versus mode. There are six different modes here that you can have fun going through. The first is your standard one on one fighting. The second is a team fight where you can team up with a friend and take on two other opponents. Your character is tethered to your friend though so you guys can’t really go too far apart so you will have to use that as part of your strategy. Keep in mind too that if you get thrown then your partner gets tossed as well. It was funny at times when I would land a throw on my opponent and then I saw both of them flying across the screen. Next is ARMS version of volleyball. How it works is an explosive volleyball is placed at the top of a volleyball net. You need to hit the ball to your opposition’s side and then they try and hit it back and you keep it going like a traditional game of volleyball. The catch here is that it is an explosive volleyball with a timer. The way you score a point in this game is the volleyball is on your opponent’s side when it explodes. The way to make it explode is either have it hit the ground on your opponent’s side or simply keep the action going until the timer explodes, and then make sure it is on the other side of the net when that happens. It is a nice change of pace from standard fighting and made for some really funny moments while playing.

The next mode is Hoops, which is ARMS version of basketball. In this mode the first to ten points wins (or whoever has the most when time runs out) and the way you score points is putting your opponent in the basket. You do this by grabbing them and then throwing them toward the hoop and hoping they go in. You can do it from far away and try to hit a three point shot or if you happen to be close to the hoop you can grab your opponent and perform a slam dunk on them which can be a lot of fun. Between this and volleyball it can make for some crazy action and some fun trash talking between friends. The fifth mode is Skillshot where you have to smash targets to try and get the highest score. The way this one works is that you stand on the opposite side of the room from your opposition and then there are a bunch of targets placed in between you that will pop up. You need to try and hit more targets than the other guy to rack up the points and you can even hit your opponent to try and make sure they can’t get to any of the targets themselves. This can be a bit of a frantic mode as you can score points really quickly but even if you are behind by a lot be sure not to give up as I had some big come from behind moments where I was able to secure the victory with only a few seconds left. The last mode on offer here is the “1-on-100” mode. This is where you have to take out 100 enemies and you only have your one health bar. Most of the enemies can be eliminated by a single hit but there will be at least a few on the screen at any given time and then there are some “boss” enemies that are a bit tougher to eliminate. You definitely need to be able to jump, dive and punch effectively here if you want to make it through all 100 opponents.

Overall ARMS is a lot of fun. There is pretty much zero depth to the “campaign” mode which is disappointing but it is a ton of fun to play the game with friends, whether they be online or on your couch. Unlocking all of the different gear will keep people busy for a little while and offers some replay value. This is a game that could have used an achievement system on the Switch as well which would have given people even more reasons to return and play. ARMS is a surprisingly deep game with the different play styles available and the different combinations you can come with whether you want an arm that is speedy and easy to maneuver or whether you want something that is slower but more powerful. Be sure to check this game out if you can.

Score: 8/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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