Earlier this week, the rather , making for another excellent addition to the fighting series. Now, comes the Switch exclusive, a fun addition to Nintendo’s original property line-up that takes Wii Sports’ boxing mode and creates a rather excellent, skill-based game.
Like the aforementioned Wii game, when playing ARMS you use the Joy Cons as fists, punching the air, your character mimicking your movements. However, these aren’t normal arms you’re fighting with. Instead, they’re extendable — like stretch Armstrong — reaching out until they finally hit something.
Importantly, you can swerve your fists as they travel forward like seeker missiles trying to reach their target. By twisting your fists around various objects using the motion controls, you can get an advantage over your opponent and make your attacks harder to block. This, as you may have guessed, takes some skill to master, especially when some characters dart around the various battlefields faster than others.
Now, these battlefields are brilliantly mixed. Some act as funnels, players being drawn to the middle, bombs — which appear at random throughout matches, along with health pods — rolling into the centre. Another has destructible columns. Another takes place in a laboratory. Each is markedly different, adding something different to each fight.
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The 10 characters themselves also offer very different abilities. To begin, there’s the choice of three sets of arms for each character. For instance, with Spring Man, you can choose either a normal fist, boomerang, or split punch known as Tribot. At the beginning of each round, you choose a setup. So, perhaps you want normal fist on the left arm and boomerang on the right. Or Tribot on both. Or unlock more arms to customise further. Also of note, there are no characters who seem particularly unfair to go up against as each has their pros and cons.
Before playing ARMS, I worried there would be little room for improvement as the game was seemingly based on a punching gimmick. Yet, thanks to all these customisations and the tough difficulty level, mastering ARMS will no doubt take lots of practice.
The main game, as you may have expected, basically sees you pick a character, choose a difficulty, and fight through ten stages that get progressively harder. There’s no particular story. Basically, it’s Mario Kart with fighting. Or Smash Bros. Or Spaltoon; one of those games where you play because it’s fun. And ARMS, in case I hadn’t made clear, really is a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, you will need to either purchase another set of Joy Cons or a Pro Controller to play two players locally. Yes, ARMS is playable without the gimmicky punching using the Joy Cons as normal controllers. While this works well, ARMS is more fun with the motion controls, and perhaps just as accurate. This, of course, is a clear sign Nintendo want players to take ARMS as seriously as Splatoon on a competitive circuit, likely hoping the game develops an equal fan base.
Perhaps the biggest caveat for ARMS is the single player experience. Like Mario Kart, only the main tournament offers something to do. The main attraction really is playing other humans, online offering a swift experience that’s enjoyable. But for players wanting something more solo, there’s little more to offer.
Still, Nintendo has consistently added content to Splatoon, and hopefully will here. Plus, even playing those tournaments over and over and changing the difficultly proves a challenge. Did I mention it’s also lots of fun? Like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Zelda: Breath of the Wind, ARMS proves another must-have game for your Switch collection.