Nintendo Switch Game Reviews: ARMS

Updated on July 25, 2017

ARMS is one of the most recent additions to the newest Nintendo console, the Nintendo Switch. The game is a 3D fighting experience that puts the player in control of the character's arms, of which there are many different options. The goal of the game is to defeat the opposing AI, player, or team by depleting their health to 0.

STORY: 2/5

The closest thing to "story" in ARMS is the campaign mode which provides little actual story elements. However, the elements that ARE there contribute greatly to this score. Although this is not a story-driven game, there are snippets of story throughout the campaign that make the campaign experience that much more engaging. Little things such as the announcing from Biff before every match, or the backstory of the boss at the end of the campaign go a long way. Between this and the different difficulty levels, you find yourself immersed in the battle. You even develop hatreds or rivalries with some characters who constantly defeat you. The quality of the story pieces make the campaign fun as opposed to being just an unnecessary frustration.

In terms of quantity, the story in this game is definitely lacking which significantly hurts the quality of ARMS itself. Fighting games are not usually overflowing with story, and when it is the quality tends to deteriorate. This just isn't a genre that is strong with story, which is why in most reviews by me fighting games would score lowly, or at least lowly in the "Story" category. Story is simply the biggest aspect of a great game and there isn't enough of it in fighting games, including ARMS.

In all, ARMS has some brief moments of redemption in its story telling, but there isn't enough of it to save the story rating.

GAMEPLAY: 4/5

ARMS is one of the most unique gaming experiences of the past decade easily, and it's because of its controls and gameplay. When Nintendo came out with the Wii in late 2006, a game that could be compared to ARMS is Wii Sports: Boxing. Why? Because it's all about punching! However, Wii Sports: Boxing doesn't come anywhere close to ARMS in the complexity of its gameplay.

Boxing in Wii Sports was basically a motion control button masher that got boring after 4 or 5 matches. ARMS, on the other hand, has so many aspects of its gameplay that force the player to think and react based on patterns and what the AI or other player are doing. A friend told me that it's best to think of it as a Rock, Paper, Scissors match; Pull beats Block, Block beats Punch, and Punch beats Pull. Using this, a player has to think of his/her next move in real time to try to gain the advantage on their opponent. There are a lot of motions and buttons to remember and utilize with the joycons and the player is forced to decide what the best action to take is based on the situation, which arms they've chosen, the character they've chosen, the character they're playing against, and their surroundings.

Speaking of which, the controls are quite impressive for a brand new controller that has had very few games created or adapted for it. For the most part, the controls are effortless, but at the same time complex. ARMS is certainly not without its issues, though. There are a few controls that are essential to the success of the player, but the buttons they are assigned to are awkward. Also, as is par for motion control gaming, there are times where certain moves and motions are mistaken by the console as others. This makes it that much more important that your moves are somewhat more exaggerated and clear which is sometimes frustrating.

The gameplay is fresh and exciting, as well as challenging and complex, but it's not perfect. Trying to nail motion control gaming is something developers will still be attempting to do in another decade, but this is certainly a great contribution to the industry, and a wonderful way to play ARMS

REPLAYABILITY: 5/5

This one is a no-brainer. I sat with my friend on a Saturday afternoon for more than 5 hours doing nothing but playing this game. It doesn't get old! For a fighting game with so far only 11 playable characters, it's surprisingly replayable. With 30 different arms and 11 different maps to choose from to date, you could have more than 100,000 different map-character-arm-arm combinations. However, what truly makes this game replayable is the desire to LEARN about these combinations. It's exciting to learn about all the different combinations of arms, especially. Some arms work well in combination with others, some aren't useful unless you get A LOT of practice with them, some may do a lot of damage but are really slow, leaving you exposed, and much more. All the different possibilities are fun to explore and it's even more fun when you find something that works well with your play style and which character you are. This then gives you a further desire to play on higher difficulty levels or against your friends. This, of course, is what replayability is all about: the desire to keep playing despite a game's repetitiveness or because of a lack there of, both of which are the case with ARMS.

MULTIPLAYER/CO-OP: 4/5

This game is the apex of co-op experiences! Going up against your friends is amazing, and the idea of team-versus through LAN is even better. The co-op experience is flawless with the exception of the splits screen. It's not that the split screen should be different, it's that the split screen CAN'T be different. The vertical split simply doesn't work very well with ARMS, but because of the different character movements and the field of view required, horizontal split would be MUCH worse. It's not the best co-op split screen in the world, but it's one of the best co-op games available at a GameStop today. The nature of the game makes it best played with a friend. It's an interactive experience that can instantaneously make to friends for life or two mortal enemies. ARMS is competitive and fun because of its co-op.

As for online multiplayer, Nintendo servers, or at least as I have experienced them, are unimpressive. Any online play would be atrocious, although fun. Enough said. However, this is simply not enough to bring down such an inspiring local experience between two friends.

DESIGN AND GRAPHICS: 4/5

Design and graphics is a tough subject. It encompassed so many different things, such as sound, level design, character design, POV, etc. Thankfully, ARMS made it easy on me. Every aspect of these is pretty top notch. Thank you Nintendo!

The background music and sound effects are by far the highlight of this category. This is a game that definitely doesn't need to be played with sound to be enjoyable, but when you do turn up the volume it's a much fuller experience. Each arm has a unique sound effect, each hit is accompanied by the sound of the crowd, and every second of this comes with some background music that doesn't overwhelm the game, but definitely is an integral part of the game's playability. The sound is immersive and action-packed, more so than other fighting games like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. It's not at all surprising that the sounds remind me of Nintendo's other premiere fighting game, Super Smash Bros, and, much like Super Smash Bros, the art design is very pleasing.

The impact of the punches, the style of the animations, and the overall character design are all very fitting for a Nintendo game and greatly influence the atmosphere of the game. There's nothing spectacular or new about the design, but there doesn't need to be. Nintendo has a brand and ARMS is very much in line with this brand which everyone has come to know and love.

I personally love the third-person view. Nintendo could have easily gone towards a first-person fighting game, but this just wouldn't have fit the bill. I similarly love that the game is 3D. The majority of games that fall under the fighting genre tend to be set up like a 2D platformer, but confined in a limited area. The 3D aspect is unique and definitely the best way to go about it.

The only disappointments in this category are the lack of creativity in some of the levels. Don't get me wrong, many of the levels are extremely interactive and influence the player's decisions and style of play, such as Spring Stadium, Snake Park, and Cinema Deux. However, the rest seem either too similar or too drab. This was enough for me to remove a point on this category, but this certainly has very little effect on the actual quality of the game.

FINAL RATING: 7.1 / 10

Conclusion

For any Nintendo Switch owner, this game is a MUST BUY! There isn't much story to speak of which deters me from calling it a "great game," and I certainly wouldn't encourage anyone to buy a $300 Nintendo Switch and pay another $60 JUST to get this game. In my opinion, the best way to play this game is to mooch off of a friend who has it, but that's besides the point.

The design elements, the gameplay mechanics, and the co-op opportunity with ARMS is outstanding. I would go as far as to call this my favorite fighting game. It's hard for fighting games to be "complete" games because of button-mashing controls, no story, and unimpressive graphics, but ARMS manages to absolutely destroy the competition! I highly recommend this game!

Please feel free to rate ARMS below! I'd like to know what YOU think about the game!

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