Review – ARMS

ARMS is a slick fighting game no one saw coming

The Nintendo Switch has been pretty successful in terms of sales, but most who bought the system have been looking for games to play, and ARMS is one of very few exclusives out right now. So how does it hold up?

A lot of people have been calling the game bare-bones, but really it offers just as much as almost any other fighting game out there today. There are specific training modes where the AI behaves in different ways, such as a the “don’t get grabbed” mode, in which you have to fight the CPU while avoiding its attempts at grabbing you repeatedly (something many people online will also do, so it’s good practice). There’s Grand Prix, the single player story mode, with input-reading CPUs that will give almost anyone trouble at level 7, Skillshot, which is a competition to hit more targets than your opponent, Hoops, where you try to grab your opponent for dunks, 1 vs. 100 mode, which makes you fight 100 cpu opponents of varying difficulty, and V-Ball, which is, as you would expect, volleyball with springy arms, among other modes. There’s a ranked mode with 1 vs. 1 only, and a party mode with a bunch of the aforementioned modes but against humans and selected randomly. There is a mode where you spend the coins you get from fighting CPUs offline and humans online to get new arms you can equip on your different characters, so there’s a lot of reasons to keep playing.

The combat is surprisingly deep, and it’s very easy to get into. A lot of the pro fighting game players may turn their nose in disgust at a new Nintendo IP clearly designed to get new people playing it, but I think that’s the beauty of the game. A lot of people might actually skip on it because it looks weird, but a major problem the fighting game community has had is getting new people interested in fighting games in general, and I think Nintendo has pulled off a game that can really get new people playing in much the same way Super Smash Bros. did when it first came out.

Being designed from the ground up to be competitive, though, it has a lot of deep strategy many people simply watching the game will underestimate. There’s punishes, plinking (for wide grabs on controller), a move that can cancel your block stun, moves that deflect attacks, and more. A skilled player at the game will very easily be able to dominate a new player at the game, just like other fighting games that are revered by competitive players. I’ve played quite a bit of ranked, and the more I play, the more it becomes evident that Nintendo has really pulled off the seemingly impossible: making a fighting game that is both fun to get into for new players while also making it very competitively viable for those players who wish to go that route.

There are 10 characters, and with only maybe one exception, Master Mummy, they all have unique moves and abilities that are balanced very nicely. I have seen good Master Mummy players, but high ranked players who play him often say he’s harder to play. The only cons I really have with the game in general are that you don’t get wins in ranked when people leave (although they lose rank points), there’s no button mapping as of yet, and Snake Park feels unbalanced for ranked play because there are hovering boards you can hop on that make matches very unpredictable and often give players on the boards an unrealistically large advantage for winning the first exchange of blows.

If Splatoon’s release is any indication, they should be fixing those problems and adding much more content later on, and really most of the problems are very small compared to how well rounded the game is otherwise. I personally prefer traditional controls, which do work very well, but people have reached the highest ranks with both control methods, so both are perfectly viable.

ARMS is a unique Nintendo IP that people definitely shouldn’t be sleeping on, but it may be getting overlooked due to the weirdness factor. If you own a Switch and have ever had even a passing interest in fighting games but maybe couldn’t play them, it is most definitely worth a buy.

Score: 9/10

Categories: Critic's Corner

1 Comment

  • Apple says:

    I think this game is a wonderful new IP and love to hear your enthusiasm for the title. It is its own thing which could turn people off or instantly excite people. I think it is a great outing and the continued support this year is going to be fun to see. I am very satisfied with ARMS so far and 9/10 is certainly fair, I think I’d personally give it an 8. Keep those critic’s corners coming!!!!!!!! Long time reader, first time commenter!!1

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