Gameplay - 85%
Story - 70%
Graphics - 80%
Sound - 85%
Value - 85%
A new take on boxing, ARMS will delight fans with its fun and detailed gameplay. It's not the deepest title, but it's one you'll be playing for a while.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I first saw ARMS at the Nintendo Switch reveal event I was decidedly…unimpressed. Don’t get me wrong, it FELT like a Nintendo title, but I didn’t feel like it’d be something that would win me over. Now, as time went on, Nintendo did the brilliant thing of focusing on ARMS in some of their Nintendo Directs, including two major ones before E3 2017. Through those, we not only got to see the beauty of the game, but the fun and personality it has. So now, two weeks after its release, I’m happy to say that though ARMS isn’t the best of games, it’s still a darn good one.
Much like Splatoon (a game that ARMS has been compared to many times in terms of unveiling and hype buildup), ARMS is a game that you honestly just have to play to get the understanding of how fun it is. The idea of a boxing game is nothing new, sure, but, the idea of a boxing game were your boxing gloves are essentially (and sometimes literally) missiles? Ones that fly through the air far away from your body in the hopes of attacking your opponent? Yeah, that’s pretty unique, and ARMS plays that up to the Nth degree.
There are ten characters you can play as in ARMS right now. Each one has a different style, techniques, different personality, and of course, different ARMS for you to use in battle. You got characters like Minmin who use a dragon arm to shoot lasers from afar, you got Ninjara, (a literal Ninja) who can teleport in the air or when he blocks attacks, Byte & Barg, who are a robotic cop and dog team who can attack separately, and more. It’s a joy to test out these characters and see how different they are, and trust me, they are different. I main Ninjara and employ keep away tactics to try and claim victory. I couldn’t use that strategy with say Master Mummy because he’s much slower than Ninjara. But on the other side, Master Mummy can take hits and not recoil or get stunned, so he has feats Ninjara doesn’t.
It’s clear that the ARMS team put a lot of care into making these characters, as they have stated that they wanted the personality of all the characters to shine through, even though you’re looking at them from behind when you play as them. You’ll see tiny details that really show them off. From Ninjara’s teleport, to the way Twintelle walks, there’s a lot of fun and detail here for you to find and admire.
Something that might get lost in all the flash and substance though is the strategy. While it’s true you can button-mash your way to victory sometimes, it won’t work a vast majority, because you need strategy and skill to outwit your opponent and use your ARMS at the right time. If you don’t time something perfectly, it can leave you wide open. Battles are intense, no matter what mode you play in, and if you want to win the majority of them, you better be ready to think as you throw punches.
One of the reasons this is is because of the ARMS themselves. They have special attributes, abilities, and speeds when they’re thrown. Knowing how to use them, and what combinations to use them in is paramount to victory. Plus, each character has a wide arrary of ARMS to use, so if you find yourself wanting another characters weapon, you just need to get some currency from in the game, then try and get it through a mini-game. Build your perfect combo, and you’ll take everyone out.
Speaking of modes, ARMS does have a certain variety of modes to partake in. Grand Prix is the only true singplayer mode (outside of Training Mode), and it has you going against the full roster, and two extra combatants as well. The trick though, is that you can actually set the difficulty on which you want to run this gauntlet. Think carefully before choosing your number. Don’t go above your skill level.
As for multiplayer modes, there is a good variety. Party Match has you playing against random online players in a true group setting, where you’ll be divided up randomly into either regular battles, one of the mini-games, tag-team battles, or even teaming up to take on a boss character. Then there’s Ranked Mode, where you’ll try and take on other players and beat them to improve your standing in the world.
While these modes are fun, there are some flaws to them. Grand Prix mode is epic, but for some reason they go from having fights to doing mini-games. V-Ball, Skillshot, and Hoops are fun, sure, but in a battle mode, I really don’t want to do them when I could be testing my fighting skills. Party Match is a great mode, but at times the computer seems to struggle with putting matches together. At times I’ve been waiting for almost a minute for a matchup, even though there’s someone in the room with me that I haven’t fought yet waiting as well. As for Ranked, it’s good, and you have to earn the right to enter it, but sometimes you get put against characters many levels above or below your rank, this feels odd.
Finally, unlike Splatoon, there’s no real mode to flesh out the world. Grand Prix is fun, but it doesn’t help us learn anything about the characters out of details given by announcer Biff. How they got their ARMS, or what’s going on in the world is still a mystery. I love these characters, and I want to learn more, so I hope that ARMS give us more on them soon.
All this aside though, ARMS is a really fun title, and one that I encourage you to play with friends. With the Switch, you can actually have two people play on one system via the Joy-Con, and even in online mode, it’s fun (and frustrating in the good way) to play and battle against your friends to see who is better.
In the end, ARMS is a worthy addition to the Nintendo library of franchises. Is it perfect? No. But, with free updates coming, including new stages, characters, and modes, this will be a title that you want to get.