Platform: Nintendo Switch
Category: Fighting, Multiplayer and Action
Release Date: 16th of June, 2017 (JP, EU & NA)
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If Stretch Armstrong and Mr Fantastic of the Fantastic Four had a child and then that child reproduced with Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, that offspring is without a doubt the Nintendo Switch exclusive title, ARMS and now that it is available to the public and all of the big players have had their turn reviewing, now it’s my turn!
When ARMS was first revealed during the presentation Nintendo hosted back in January, it was a game that had gamers divided. Other than it looking as bright, colourful and whacky as Splatoon did back in 2015, and it being a new kind of fighting game, we really did know so little about it, but Nintendo soon saw to that. From its initial reveal to its release, the Big N took the time to endear the characters to us, whilst revealing some interesting details about stages, alternate modes and even the lore of ARMS, and you know what, it paid off!
ARMS has become a game Switch owners across the globe desperately desires and you know what else? It is a very good game and one many of us will enjoy more so than many of us initially imagined. Still let’s not get carried away and make out like ARMS is the greatest fighting game in the world as it isn’t because it does have some flaws, but it certainly slips into the Top 10. But yes ARMS does have some issues, so before I get round covering the good stuff and what I do like about ARMS, this time we’re going to start with the bad stuff first and first up on the bad list, it’s the motion controls.
It is understandable that Nintendo would want this Switch exclusive to take advantage of the Switch’s unique take on motion controls what with the HD Rumble feature it possesses and while the required hand motions sound easy in theory, not everyone gets on well with ARMS motion controls aspect. It’s a shame really, because it can be enjoyable and a decent work-out if toy do it long enough, but unless you are a motion control whizz, you’re going to get your butts handed to you a lot, whether playing against a friend, online or even against CPU. Thankfully though other than playing ARMS in the “Thumbs-up Grip” position, you can of course play with buttons if you’d rather and the Pro Controller does make a ton of difference. Plus the Pro Controller is friendly to all who wish to use it, regardless of you being a core gamer, or just a new gamer.
As for another issue ARMS possess, it’s the loading times. As much as I hate to own and play digital games when I could own and play the physical version, the fact of the matter is the digital version does allow you jump into battle sooner, but even though ARMS doesn’t exactly take up the most space, it is just genuinely better to have the boxed version. Still neither of these are as bad as the fact as the lack of genuine single player content. I know ARMS is meant to be yet another multiplayer experience on the Nintendo Switch, but Nintendo could have done a little bit more to ensure the single player content had a little more to it.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the Grand Prix mode. Selecting a fighter, learning a bit about their story, their affiliation and even reading the comments from Biff the commentator, but the 10 matches pass in no time at all when playing through on the lower difficulty settings (ranges from 1 to 7) but once you become the Grand Champion, than that’s pretty much it. Yes you can play through the Grand Prix over and over again, completing it at least once with every characters, but its appeal soon dissipates. So with interest in the Grand Prix short lived, you then find yourself trying out the Versus section of the game to do some 1-on-100, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is you against 100 enemies, 99 of whom look a lot like Helix, sporting ARMS of all kinds, with Hedlok being the final foe. (Yes the 6 armed foe as seen in the ARMS Global Testpunch is the big bad boss of the 1-on-100.)
But then, whilst ARMS does support single player content, at the end of the day, it is a game meant to be played with others. A game you can play for fun with those in the same room as you or against those across the world via the online functions ARMS possesses, or competitively when doing Ranked Battles. (Just one word of warning about Ranked Battles, the place to go where you can “fight online for rank and pride!” You will need to beat Grand Prix on the difficulty of 4 or higher. It also means gets ready to do an 11th match as a certain Max Brass is not the final fighter and the final fight is not easy, but more on this a later.)
Still, there’s more to ARMS than just fighting, as this fighting game also has two playable sports that allow players to use their twisty-curvy fighters in game of basketball called Hoops, which requires you to score by dunking your opponent into the net. Or there is V-Ball, which is exactly the same as volleyball, if volleyball is played with a ball that will blow up if it touches the ground it touches the ground. Out of the two sports, I find Hoops the most fun, but that’s probably because I tend to play as Ribbon Girl and it is hilarious every time she slam dunks Master Mummy through the net. Plus the make a welcome appearance should you find yourself losing hand over fist when versing players with more skill than you possess.
However if neither one of the sports take your fancy, there is always Skillshot, a mode that has you go head to head against another player/CPU and requires you to take out as many targets as you can in a single successes to rack up the points. You will want to play this mode a lot, as it makes great practice for when it comes to the time to earn new ARMS (the “accessories/armaments” the ARMS fighters are able to wield), via the ARMS Getter. Only earning new ARMS does not come easily, even if you are a target smashing pro, you still need plenty of coins to even do ARMS Getter in the first place, so it’s a good thing you can earn them just by playing the game. Although it would have been nicer if it was possible to earn twice as much as we’re getting now, or you know, make the ARMS Getter timers easier to afford. (30 coins for a Short Timer, 100 for a Medium Timer and 200 for a Long Timer because yes, why just give away ARMS or have them brought in packs, when instead they could be put in boxes that you will need to hit after taking out enough targets to rack up the points as timer counts down. Sure you can hit the stop watch for more time, but getting new ARMS is not easy. Especially since you can get the same ones for the same characters, albeit stronger versions.)
Still I’ve done a whole lot of talking up until this point and yet I haven’t actually discussed the characters at length or the fighting, so let’s do just that. Right from the start there are 10 available characters, which includes the booty wiggling, French speaking Twintelle and the fighter who was cooked up in a lab, Helix. Each one is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses like Master Mummy being able to recover life when he guards and deals more damage but because of his size, is slower and a bigger target for others to hit. But the characters are in fact, fun, bizarre and great to play as.
Sure some are lacking in comparison to others who are just far superior (like Kid Cobra), but they’re still a delight to play regardless. They also have their own fighting stylus which even for a more simple fighting game that ARMS is considered as, will keep you on your toes, forcing you to mix up strategy and chosen arms. Some you can easily mash the punch buttons until the opposition is out for count and then do it again as all battles require you to win 2 rounds, but other fights will have you dashing and jumping all over the battlefield, trading the occasional punch, but holding back until you can go for a successful grab.
Even better than the fact you do have to constantly adapt your game for every fight, both online and local, is the fact the stages in which you fight on are just as interesting as the fighters you face, but even the ARMS can make all the difference, due to fact that each fighter can have up to 30 options and each ARMS have different element types that can cause all sorts of damage and effects, such as slowing down your enemy, or just exploding on them and talking of explosions, let’s talk items. During the timed battles, items will arrive in four forms, a HP Juice which is you stand close enough to will allow you to recover life. A Rush Juice that fills your Rush gauge, which allows you to deal all kinds of damage provided you land your punches and don’t get hit yourself, prematurely ending our own Rush. But then there’s a Fire Bomb that goes Boom and deals a devastating blow of 200 damage and a Shock Bomb that momentarily disables a fighter’s ARMS momentarily, if caught in the blast.
And now that is enough about the characters and the fighting, it’s time to revisit the Grand Prix and the 11th match. When playing through on difficulty setting 4, an additional fight will take place as soon as the 10th match finishes and a short cut-scene plays out. The battle is by no means easy, but losing is not the end of the world. In fact you can lose time and time again in Grand Prix and it doesn’t matter, because you will not be forced to start over from the beginning. Instead you are allowed to rematch the foe who got the best of you and carry on your bid to become the Champion, and even if you lose and lose and lose again, you can of course just save and quit and return to Grand Prix some other time. But as long as you do finish on 4 or higher and win the 11th match, you will be privy to seeing the credits and a special image of your winning fighter and access to the Ranked Match as previously mentioned. Also if you can’t do it alone, you can do it with a friend as Grand Prix supports 2 players, it just means be prepared to be tied to one other and face two enemies and earn a similar amount of coins as you would if you played on your own.
But if after all this you are wondering if ARMS is still worth getting if you haven’t got yet and the fact it does have less content than previously believed, let’s not forget about the fact free content is on the way that will add new characters, ARMS and even stages and this month alone, Max Brass is coming and then Spectator Mode next month, so there is still more to ARMS than we know, but we do have to wait for it to be adding in. But as far as the content we have now, I am all set to wrap this whole shebang up.
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Without a doubt, ARMS is an interesting and engaging fighting game that feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch and is just a great attempt by Nintendo to get into the fighting scene with something other than Smash. So not to delay it any further, I’m going to score ARMS an 8/10 because it really is just that good, and is set to get even better over the coming months! Thank you for reading!
THE VERDICT: 8/10