If there is one thing that Nintendo is admired by, it must be for the company’s ability to find a vision in even the craziest of ideas. On paper, Arms sounds like a page taken from the Wii’s book: motion controls, jerky movements, and fights that are more akin to boxing matches. However, while the pedigree may sound a little outdated, the game takes these ideas and translates into a fun and refreshing title that makes you want to hit continue just one more time.
One of the defining traits of this fighting game is it’s delightfully whimsical cast of characters. Nintendo certainly has some magic when it comes to character design and Arms continues this legacy. The character I instantly selected and loved was Kid Cobra, a “snakeboarder” who seemed to move like a snake, his clothing was patterned to be like a snake, and his headgear helped shape him like his namesake. It was just so cool!
Once a player selects one of the ten fighters, the game gives you the short-and-sweet gist of gameplay. Your fighter goes for two rounds against a single opponent (unless you fight Byte and Barq…*sigh*) Each player can select from three different “arms” to equip to both your right and left hands. These arms can be boxing gloves, beam-shooting dragons, umbrellas, boomerangs, and a whole lot more. Each equip you choose changes the style in which your fighter takes on their foe. You can have projectiles and keep your distance or you can get some good ol’ boxing gloves and get in close and personal with your opponent.
This deeper level of strategy and customization doesn’t take away from newer players, as it is easy to jump into the game and take off with a simple set-up. The better part of picking a character is really to see which ability you want to cash in on when fighting. Do you want a character who can regenerate health while blocking or have a character who can dodge attacks rather than parry them? Each character has different abilities that make them unique, so the choice of arms that compliment the character aren’t necessarily the best choices. It all comes down to how the player wants to play and how they cash in on that desire.
The game throws you into it’s Grand Prix mode, the story mode for this game, to duke it out with ten opponents. You learn how to guard, grapple, punch, curve punches, and use special moves before taking this mode on. While some people complain that each weapon isn’t explained in detail, it adds to the excitement and thrill to learn how each weapon interacts with the fighter and the player. The story mode gives a few mini-game sections to break up the straight brawl, such as an exploding volley-ball match and a basket-ball mode where you must grapple your opponent and dunk them like a ball.
The game is meant to be played on a set of Joy-Cons, held in a grip-stance. However, you are able to do local co-op and use one Joy-Con a piece, as well as connect a Pro Controller. I found myself actually more accurate using the Switch with the Joy-Cons attached, as I was able to control the curvature of my hits just a little better.
The game has several different modes to entertain you, again, like a Grand Prix “story” mode, a Versus mode where you can select a team fight, the volley ball game, the basketball game, a random arms circuit, a target-smashing mode, and a 1-on-1o0 free for all. You can also do a Party Match and face players online or by local connection. The game even allows you to play Ranked Matches and test your skills in a tournament-like setting.
While there is no literal plot to the game other than “fight ten opponents and you win”, the game does give you a currency with each match or game type you play. This currency is used to play another mode called “Get Arms”, where you can punch targets in a timed-session until some loot boxes appear. Once these boxes appear, you have to strike the boxes to unlock a new arm for whatever fighter you have selected. This isn’t necessarily the best method I could have envisioned for obtaining new weapons in-game but it does encourage players to develop their personal fighting style and find out which characters they gel with.
In summary, Arms seems to be a fantastic game. The Nintendo charm is strong with this one and there is plenty to do. Progression does seem very RNG but there are plenty of things to keep you coming back to the game. While the characters and their designs are just begging for an actual story with lore, sometimes it’s better to have a game that plays well and keeps you wanting to come back. Arms seems to be a step in the right direction for fighting games on the Switch and I can’t wait to see what doors this title opens. That being said, I’ll see you on the battlefield!
Play Arms? Looking for friends or foes? Check out our forums and find your next opponent!