ARMS Review

Is this brand new Nintendo IP a hit, or is it just a joke?

The script is posted below the video.

Introduction

ARMS is a brand new Nintendo IP, developed by the same team who makes the Mario Kart series. This new fighting game has attempted to follow a similar push to Splatoon in terms of marketing, coverage, and overall presence in gaming. Being what many consider to be the “first exclusive First Party Switch game,” is ARMS worth the hype given to it, or should fans just swat it away?

Story

Despite being a rather unique, and arguably bizarre fighting game, ARMS is riddled with lore and story. The overall plot of the game is simple, with each of the playable characters coming together as rivals in the ARMS Grand Prix, aiming to be the new champion. Each character is given a backstory when competing in the ARMS Grand Prix, detailing their age, weight, affiliation, and hobbies. This leads to funny little moments, such as learning that Min Min works for “Mintendo Noodle House,” or some more heartfelt ones, as with Master Mummy looking for his family. As one can imagine from this, the world-building within ARMS is very nice and concise. Despite such odd designs for some characters, the entire cast fits nicely into the world, complimented by their backstories reinforcing this.

Gameplay

ARMS has a lot of work put into its mechanics and overall gameplay. First off, let’s discuss the controls. I’d like to start this off by saying that I find the motion controls to be just as good as using a normal controller, I did not actually find myself with a preference, as both allowed me to be precise and well-immersed within the game. For motion controls, players are equipped with a Joy-Con in each hand, which the game calls the “thumbs-up” position. When using the Joy-Con, players tilt their hands left, right, forward, and backward to move, inwards to guard, and thrust their hands outwards to punch. Throwing a punch with both hands at the same time is a grab. The L trigger is to dodge, while the R trigger is to jump.  On a controller, be it in handheld mode, Joy-Con grip, or Pro-Controller, the controls may seem a bit more complicated initially, but they are easy to adapt to. Players can punch using either the L and R triggers, or the A and B buttons. Movement is controlled through the left stick, jumping is X, and dodging is Y. To block attacks, the left stick must be pressed. While the game was always presented with the Joy-Con controls, even including them as the main control scheme in the loading screen, using controller controls play just as well.

The main mechanics and gameplay in ARMS are relatively simple. Typical matches pitch two players against each other, each having access to three different arms to equip at the start of each round. Each ARM has a different mechanic, depending on its type. Some arms are light and are easily knocked away, some are heavy and can knock all others out of the way while moving slowly, while some don’t even aim straight, and fly at the enemy in a curve. Additionally, many ARMS also have elemental attributes, such as fire to inflict burns, ice to freeze the enemy in place, or even electricity to stun the opponent and temporarily disable their ARMS. Less typical matches include 1v1v1s, which often lead to two players teaming up against the outlier, Free-For-Alls of four players all fighting it out, 2v2 matches, where teammates are connected by a coil that can only go so far, Hoops, where players must score points by launching or throwing their opponents into the basketball hoop, V-ball, where players fight in an explosive game of Volleyball, and Skill-Shot, where players on opposite sides of an arena compete to earn the most points by hitting targets.  

I’ve found myself spending most of my time in fights, be it the Grand Prix mode or playing online with friends. Skill-Shot is fun, and can be pretty competitive. V-Ball is actually pretty fun, contrary to much of the hate directed at it. Hoops on the other hand is not one of my favorite modes in the game. I’m personally not too fond of the way it plays, nor the focus on grabbing and using rush attacks, as at that point, I would much rather just fight my opponent.

Presentation

ARMS is a very clean game, having minimal UI interference, and also having crisp graphics. The colors are typically bright and cheery, helping push the excitement of the game. Additionally, the music in the game is phenomenal, with the main theme to the game basically being stuck in everyone’s head ever since the Global Testpunch.

The character design is also really great. Each character looks unique and recognizable, each also having their own charm. Additionally, each character has their own fans in the crowd whenever they fight in a match. To further tie into the characters, each arena is themed to a different character, and the music that plays on each stage is known to be the theme of that character. Each one is well developed and cleanly fits within this world. Most information about the game is told through the announcer, Biff, who gives detailed information about each character, as well as narrates the matches.  

The game offers many different option settings for its various modes, including Versus, Wireless, and Online modes, allowing for variance in gameplay. The presentation behind these options is also very clean, with easy navigation and understanding.

There is only really one big problem that I have with ARMS, and it’s a mix of both its gameplay and presentation. Difficulty levels in the game range from 1 being the easiest, to 7 being the most difficult. That’s how it’s supposed to be, at least, but when playing Grand Prix mode at various difficulties, I realized just how unbalanced this was. While 1 may be relatively easy, and 2 also being fairly easy, 3 feels like the average player…and then hitting 4 is where the difficulty spikes to what feels nearly impossible at first. It took me hours to make it to the finals of Grand prix on level 4, using quite a few continues along the way. When I tried level 5, I could not even beat the first fight after many attempts. Normally, I would just equate this to my own lack of skill at the game, but I’ve been hearing tons of people having this problem. My own friends who helped me capture the multiplayer footage were saying the same thing. I believe that the difficulty balancing in the game needs to be reworked, as I feel far more incentive to simply play online and ignore the single player modes.

Verdict

ARMS is a beautiful game that handles far better than initially perceived. Its controls are very solid and fluid. The characters and worldbuilding within this game are also done very well, making everything feel recognizable and interesting. The various modes to the game should shake up normal gameplay to make it all the more interesting as well. The internet servers seem to play very well too, leaving little to no lag during gameplay. The only real problem with the game is the difficulty balancing for single player modes, but since playing through Grand Prix offers benefits such as access to Ranked online mode and also earns a lot of coins to spend, it can be agonizing to go through. I think this problem can be fixed in future updates to the game, though.

4/5 stars

 

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Tris

College student of video game design. I absolutely love video games, with the Mario and Zelda series being my two favorites. Here at Source Gaming, I mostly do video content, but I'll occasionally be found writing something! I also run my own Let's Play channel, called WiiHii!

Mains: Link (64), Peach & Young Link (Melee), Toon Link & Peach (Brawl), Toon Link, Peach & Lucas (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)
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