ARMS Review for Switch

ARMS Review for Switch

Accept ARMS’ Invitation

If you had told me a year ago that Nintendo would have made motion controls fashionable again with the Switch, I would have laughed. If you had gone on to say it would be doing so with a fighting game, I would have laughed even harder. Yet here we are in 2017 with ARMS , a fighter with character, depth, and potential. Even more shocking, it is better with motion controls.

ARMS is set in a world where some people just happened to wake up with extendable arms. There are ten fighters to choose from, each with three ARMS weapons immediately available and one unique ability. Players send them through the Grand Prix, where they face off against 10 opponents to become the champ. Though, those in search of a short experience or one where other people are involved can partake in Versus fights, Party Matches, or Ranked Matches.

Every control scheme in ARMS shines. While you can play with more standard setups that involve using both Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller in a more conventional manner, the best way to play is with motion controls. One Joy-Con is held in each hand and you “punch” to punch with respective arms, grab by shoving both Joy-Cons forward, block by holding them back, and pressing triggers to dash, jump, and perform a rush attack. They aren’t complicated or exhausting to use, meaning you can play the “right” way for an hour or more without getting tired out. But then, falling back to more traditional schemes are just as comfortable.

At a glance, ARMS might resemble Punch-Out!! , another classic series. While it does offer the same perspective and characters who are getting into fist fights, everything else is different. To start, each character has a special ability. Ribbon Girl can double jump. Twintelle is able to slow down opponents’ punches when she’s charging. Master Mummy restores his health when he’s guarding. Byte can jump off of Barq for a higher jump or allow the dog to roam around randomly and punch enemies. The person you pick as your fighter is important, as you can build strategies around their special abilities.

ARMS Screenshot

All of the ARMS each character can equip have a huge impact on the fight. Each one has its own capabilities. Chilla looks like a standard fist in a boxing glove and offers a quick attack. When it is charged, it freezes the opponent and slows their movements. Megawatt is a huge, heavy punch that is slow, good for blocking other punches, and can temporarily paralyze an enemy when charged. Guardian is a slow moving shield that blocks any arms, and eventually can be pressed again when extended to zero in on an enemy and attack. Your equipment determines your attack speed, whether you can block attacks successfully, and what kind of combos you can pull off.

ARMS Screenshot

While much of ARMS depth does come from picking the character and loadout that is best for you, the way matches are actually set up also offer an opportunity to go beyond what is expected and excel. In a standard 1v1 match, which is the basis for the Grand Prix and Ranked Match, you need to be aware of your opponents’ capabilities and stage gimmicks. ARMS is a thinking person’s fighting game. You have to watch people’s attacks and know where to aim so your punches aren’t blocked, know when it is or isn’t safe to attempt a grab, be aware of the right time to initiate a Rush with a flurry of attacks, and be ready to defend and build up a charge. Frantically flailing won’t get you anywhere in ARMS . You also have to know when to use things like the Spring Stadium’s trampolines, DNA Lab’s tubes, and Snake Park’s gliders to your advantage. If you don’t pay attention, you’re in trouble. It even comes down to aiming, since you can temporarily take out one or both of a foe’s ARMS by focusing on that part of their body, which then slows them down and incapacitates them, making it easier to grab or rush attack them.

This extends to ARMS ’ more unconventional matches. In addition to 1v1 fights, there are team matchups where you participate in a 2v2 brawl or everyone for themselves match with three to four players. Hoops has you trying to grab your opponent to automatically dunk them through a basketball hoop, Skillshot has one player on either side of the field trying to hit more targets than their opponent before time runs out, and V-Ball has two to four players hitting an explosive volleyball back and forth. There’s even a 1-on-100 fight where one person can try and survive a fight against 100 opponents. Each of these feel like a way for people to enjoy themselves even if they aren’t great at the whole “fighting” part of the game. Though, Skillshot is rather difficult to play with motion controls.

It is important to have this kind of variety, because ARMS ’ Grand Prix can get very difficult. On its scale, one is easiest and seven is hardest. You need to beat Grand Prix once on four or higher to unlock the online Ranked Match. It could take a while. I wasn’t ready to beat four until I had played ARMS for about ten hours and had already beaten Grand Prix levels one through three with Twintelle, Spring Man, Mechanica, and Ribbon Girl. When I finally did, I felt like it was because I had purchased more ARMS with in-game cash for Twintelle, switched to a traditional control scheme, and just got lucky, as the AI feels like it gets a little cheap once you hit four. I can’t imagine beating Grand Prix on six or seven.

ARMS Screenshot

Besides, Party Match is really the superior ARMS mode. The online mode is amazing. While waiting for a match, you can train against AI opponents and prepare. Once everyone in the lobby is ready, they are sorted into groups. You never know what kind of match you’ll be in. You could be in a free for all with four players, participate in 1v1, 2v2, or 3v1 fights, or be tossed in a Hoops, V-Ball, or Skillshot match. It is easy to swap between characters after each round. Plus, you earn in-game cash here, just as you do the the Grand Prix and Versus modes, meaning you’re working toward unlocking more ARMS. It is wonderful and full of variety.

It’s difficult to describe just how good ARMS is. The best analogy I can come up with is that it is to fighting games what Splatoon is to third-person shooters. ARMS is a bright, colorful, and welcoming game. Newcomers can easily hop in and enjoy most of the matches and modes available. Meanwhile, the more dedicated will find themselves developing complex strategies based on characters and ARMS loadouts and captivated by the opportunities to challenge others online. I would not be surprised to see it spawn multiple successful successors.

ARMS’ arenas, characters, and weapons are bright, colorful and detailed. . 5.0 Control
It is rare to have a game where motion controls work well, let alone a fighting game where that is the preferred control scheme! 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
ARMS’ soundtrack is catchy and does a wonderful job of hyping you up for each fight. 5.0 Play Value
The multiple single and multiplayer options give you plenty of reason to return, especially with each giving currency that unlocks more ARMS. 5.0 Overall Rating – The Best
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Fight via simple motion and button controls – Grab onto your Joy-Con with a unique “thumbs-up” grip and use simple motions and button presses to outthink your opponent. Toss and curve punches when you find an opening, and dodge a flurry of incoming attacks. It’s fast-paced fun for everyone!
  • Select from a variety of fighters – Select from brand-new fighting superstars like Ribbon Girl, Master Mummy, and more! Each fighter has their own special attributes to learn and master.
  • Fight in arenas with unique obstacles – Throw punches around (or through) mysterious liquid-filled columns in a spooky laboratory, or in certain arenas, toss fighters onto trampolines for epic aerial skirmishes.
  • Choose your arms carefully – Each weapon has its own strength. Some are slow and do tons of damage, while others are fast as lighting, but will only serve to set up larger combinations. It’s up to you to mix and match your arms to fit your play style.

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