ARMS (Switch) Review

Site Score
Good: Diverse characters, fun stages, winning via sucker punch is amazing, both accessible and complicated
Bad: Motion controls could be better, currently a little light on content
User Score
(7 votes)
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GD Star Rating

Part of what makes Nintendo a successful company is their unique take on genres. Splatoon is a great example of that. Instead of following established norms, it’s colorful, quirky and imaginative. While every idea hasn’t lead to success, ARMS is, if nothing else, interesting. By combining Punch-Out with imaginative ideas and traditional fighting game mechanics, it has the potential to be a break out hit for the Switch. However, with untraditional controls, heavy emphasis on competitive matches and more, is ARMS too weird to be successful or is it an experience only Nintendo can provide?

While the global test punch was a great way to introduce people to ARMS, it does a poor job of showing what makes ARMS so special. Part of the issue is the lackluster tutorial. Instead of giving players all the tools they need to succeed, something other fighters do a fantastic job of, it’s a brief overview of controls. The other issue is players have little to no idea of how ARMS is supposed to be played, so matches were, in my experience anyway, straightforward and slow. Thankfully, Grand Prix mode addresses this issue.

Grand Prix is ARMS take on arcade mode. It starts with an introduction to Biff, the announcer and then some background information on whomever you choose to play as. From there, Biff starts every match by setting up the fight or an explanation if it’s a mini-game. This continues until you finish the mode, but the real highlight is how the AI plays.

Before starting Grand Prix, you have to select a difficulty, which ranges from one being the easiest and seven the hardest. Even at one I would say the AI is more challenging than anyone I faced in the first hour of the global test punch, with even three or four forcing you to get better. But the important thing is, it gives you an example of how to play.

The key to being successful in ARMS is not just good aim, as you do have to guide your arm to hit your opponent, but movability. Those who can jump and dash, while properly aiming, will be far harder to defeat than someone who needs to stand still to aim. This obviously takes time, but once it clicks, ARMS goes from being a slow fighter where both parties have issue hitting to thrilling and fast paced match. Especially since ARMS is a lot more complicated than it looks.

Below the simple look is all the mechanics you’d expect from a fighting game. Every character has something that sets them apart and different arms have distinct advantages and disadvantages. For instance, large arms like Megawatt and Megaton, can’t be stopped by lighter arms, making it great for countering attacks or landing a decisive blow. Lighter arms can easily be countered, but move at a far greater speed. It’s much easier to anticipate an attack from a large arm than a light one. Other arms offer other advantages, such as range, covering an area, blocking or attacking at range. Some also elements that, when charged and successfully connect, stun, slowdown or add additional damage.

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ARMS (Switch) Review, 8.3 out of 10 based on 7 ratings
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