Despite the very successful launch of the Switch in March, the console didn’t exactly hit stores with very many games in its library, besides the now legendary Breath of The Wild. However, now that the Switch has a couple of months under its belt, the game line-up is starting to look bigger and better. With that increasing selection comes ARMS, Nintendo’s latest attempt at making motion controls relevant.
In a fashion similar to Wii Sports’ Boxing, ARMS has you taking advantage of the Switch’s Joy Cons’ motion controls by throwing virtual punches at your opponents. However, it’s not as cut and dry as it sounds, as your character’s arms act almost like Slinkys. You can curve your punches by tilting the Joy Cons upward or downward, along with throwing out special attacks. You can also curve your arms to avoid objects or send out difficult-to-predict attacks. This game is rather easy to play, but hard to master. Once the arena starts filling up with different objects, ARMS gameplay starts to become pretty frenetic.
The different designs of the arenas are beautifully futuristic. Some reminded me of Beyblade arenas, forcing opponents to the middle to battle it out. Scattered around the arenas are usable objects like bombs, which pop up randomly while in a battle, and health pods. There are even destructible environments like collapsible columns. You’ll find different types of maps for each type of fighter, so there is plenty of variety.
There are ten characters available at launch, and most of them have their own unique fighting style. Each fighter also has a set of three different types of arms available to them, allowing you to choose your set up at the beginning of the fight. For instance, you can have the left arm be a normal fist while the right is a boomerang. Or you can choose to have both arms be the same; it really depends on your style. Of course, the more you play the more you’ll unlock, but you get the picture. It seems like Nintendo put a lot of effort into this game to be a true and new competitive IP, similar to what they are trying with the Splatoon series.
So, What’s Your Story?
The main point of the game is to pick a fighter, choose a difficulty, and fight. There is a battle mode, Grand Prix, that lets you go through 10 stages that get harder through each stage progression, but no real story mode. The other downside is that you will need to purchase (or borrow) another set of Joy Cons in order to play locally with another person. You can also use the Joy Cons as normal controllers to play the game, but ARMS is not nearly as fun this way. The controls also aren’t as accurate as using the motion controls. It’s disappointing that you are almost forced to buy another set of controllers to play this game, but the difference between standard and motion controls is massive.
I really only had one big issue with ARMS, and that was the lack of a single-player content. The only thing you can do on your own is the main tournament. You can play online, yes, but I was getting my butt whooped so fast that it wasn’t very enjoyable. I also found myself with some connection issues when trying to get online – a problem that Nintendo and developers are running into a lot with the Switch. As a solo gaming enthusiast, this was a big reason why I dropped my score.
Regardless of the lack of single-player inclusion, ARMS is really fun – the typical and classic Nintendo brand of fun. This is the type Nintendo game that really shines in its wacky character design along with depth and attention to detail. I was disappointed with the lack of a story specifically because of how detailed the characters are. Almost every fighting game has some type of backstory for their characters, so this seems like an oversight on Nintendo’s part. Especially since Nintendo loves backstories! Alas, what we do have is a wacky, fun, and addictive party game in ARMS, and I’ll take it.