Reviewed on Switch
Kris Godwin / Fri 9th Jun 2017
33 views / 2 bites
A brand new IP from Nintendo, ARMS is a fighting game that attempts to revitalise the genre in a fun new way.
A flagship title for the Switch, can it capture the imagination of gamers all over the world, much like Splatoon did for the Wii U?
Let's find out!
Unlike the detailed narratives of other fighters like Injustice 2 or Tekken 7, the plot for ARMS is very simple.
Like the Switch's own Ultra Street Fighter II, what little story is offered is told through the individual stories of the fighters. Unfortunately, you wont find any detailed exposition or lavish cut-scenes here, but rather a simple Grand Prix mode that comprises of eight fights and two minigames.
Presented like a TV program and hosted by the eponymous 'Biff', what little world-building offered is done via the simple profiles of each fighter, as well as dialogue by Biff himself.
It's serviceable enough, but underwhelming when compared to the competition, or even Nintendo's own games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Splatoon.
Hopefully a future update will bring a full-fledged campaign mode, because the world and characters Nintendo have created for ARMS are very appealing indeed!
As with any Nintendo game, gameplay is the main hook, and ARMS delivers in spades.
As I mentioned before, ARMS is an attempt to revitalise the fighting genre - much like Splatoon did for competitive third person shooters. Only time will tell if it'll be as successful as its inky forebear, but so far, what I've played is very promising.
Presented in a non-traditional 'behind the back' view, the big hook for ARMS is... well, the arms.
Each combatant's appendage can be shot forth like springs, with each limb being individually controlled. As has been mainly presented by Nintendo, this is done by holding a Joy-Con in each hand, and thrusting forward - very akin to Wii Sports Boxing. This seems very simple at first, but as you get better, you realise that ARMS has an incredible amount of depth.
You see, not only can each punch be thrown individually, but you can curve them as well - creating a game of duck and weave. On top of this, you can move, dash and jump freely around the arenas, grab your foes, block and unleash a special attack once you've filled a special meter.
In essence, this boils down to the 'rock-paper-scissors' method of gameplay - punches beat grabs, grabs beat blocks, and blocks beat punches.
It's a simple yet utterly engaging mechanic, especially when combined with specialised stage hazards and gimmicks, as well as items that appear periodically, like bombs, health vials and rage-building potions.
On top of this, each of the 10 fighters on offer have a unique attribute, which creates some individuality. For example, Ribbon Girl can double jump, Master Mummy heals when he blocks and Ninjara can teleport in mid-air. This ensures that every player will find their favourite - mine is the beach patrol robot duo, Byte & Barq!
In terms of modes, the game has the aforementioned Grand Prix, along with Training, Versus, Volleyball, Target Smashing, Hoops, 1 vs. 100, and the typical gamut of online modes. There's even a tag-team mode, which tethers two partners together as they engaging in four-player mayhem!
As you play, you earn currency which can be converted for time in a special minigame that has you hitting targets, clocks and presents. These presents unlock the other strategic key to ARMS' gameplay; differing weapons. Before each fight, you can equip three pairs of weaponised fists - and before each round, you can choose what fist goes on each arm. These vary greatly in behaviour, from traditional boxing gloves, to party poppers, hammers and laser beams. There are about 3,000 possible combinations, which creates another wonderful layer of strategic planning to fights.
On a final note, on top of motion controls, you can play ARMS traditionally with buttons if you prefer - and there is local split-screen multiplayer.
The visuals for ARMS are typically Nintendo; super colourful, bouncy and silky smooth.
Running at 60 fps (30 fps with multiple players), ARMS feels great to play, and the clean artistic style makes the gameplay easy on the eye. After all, this is a game about reading your opponent, so the expressive visual cues need to be clear and concise.
I absolutely adore the character and world design, as it's clear that a lot of thought was put into them. Fighters are basically brands unto themselves, with adoring fans that follow them in each fight (they humorously wear their merchandise, like a pro-westing show). As a result, each one is clearly identifiable and unique, with nice personalities and background stories (hence my desire for a campiagn mode!)
Again, the sound effects for ARMS are simply Nintendo, with catchy tunes and characters that spout key catchphrases and grunts of pain. It's nothing too remarkable, but gets the job done.
Overall, ARMS is a great new IP from Nintendo.
Though perhaps a little anemic in its offerings - especially when compared to other fighters on the market - it nevertheless holds a tonne of potential, especially since Nintendo have promised to continue supporting the game with free content.
Regardless of the future, what we have now is an addictive game that is deceptive in its simplicity, and is a genuine multiplayer joy. Hopefully, we have another Splatoon on our hands, because ARMS is certainly a fun new experience.
Review copy provided by Nintendo Australia