I feel like such a fool for being so skeptical of ARMS. Seriously, I almost laughed at the game when I first saw it in January, almost to a point where I was frustrated with Nintendo for making it. People told me, “it’s the next Splatoon,” and I didn’t want to believe them. I mentioned about a month ago how my opinion had changed, and I’m glad I gave this game a shot. So, here’s my ARMS review.
ARMS makes me excited for Nintendo and especially what else they’ll throw on the Switch. The game isn’t as complete as I would have hoped, but man does it feel like a full experience.
Not much of a story, but the lore bits excite me
I wanted to start with a brief review of the story and lore of ARMS. A fighting game really doesn’t need much of a story, if you think about it. It’s often just for fighting and mastering the controls, and not really getting attached to characters that you’re playing. In ARMS’ case, the diversity of the cast almost requires some sort of story or at least some extra information.
My friends know how much I love Overwatch. (Strike that, my friends know how much I love lore and story in general. Anyway, back to Overwatch.) I’m not very good at the game, but I’m invested in the story and all of the details everywhere. I’m not trying to imply that ARMS is on the level of Overwatch, but I think it fits in the same category. Neither game is really a story-driven game, but the cast makes it exciting and worth learning more.
As it stands now, ARMS doesn’t have much of that in it at all. There are little hints here and there about what’s happening in the greater scheme of things, and we have developer interviews and bits of information to give us an idea about what’s going on. There’s a little something extra that you’ll learn when you clear level 4, but it isn’t much.
The only direct story in the game is the story you get from Biff about why each character is competing to win. Each has their own reasons, and it’s nice to see that it isn’t just to win for most of them.
Honestly, it makes me excited to see where they go with the story. Maybe in the future, we’ll have something to go on, maybe even on the level of Splatoon. As it stands right now, it isn’t very substantial.
One of the biggest gripes people have with the game comes from the motion controls. A lot of people don’t like motion controls, period. I totally understand where they’re coming from. I, too, thought that ARMS was going to force motion controls at first. Motion controls have never really bugged me, but not knowing that there was an option for standard controls was worrying.
But then Nintendo proved us wrong. They gave us several ways to play the game. You can play with motion controls, the Pro Controller, both Joy-cons, and even one single Joy-con. There’s plenty of ways to play, so choose the one you like best (even if the developers have said that you get more control with motion).
Fighting Feels Great
The game consists mostly of one-on-one fighting matches with your newfangled springy arms. The controls are pretty tight, and the matches can get pretty intense. There’s a time limit, so matches aren’t forced to go on forever, and there’s always a winner unless you both happen to have the same amount of health. There’s a lot of intricacy and strategy involved with the matches, so experimentation is key.
Speaking of experimentation, the arms (or boxing gloves, if that helps you understand a bit better) can be adjusted. Instead of being locked to the same three arms for one character, you can indeed unlock more. I found as I unlocked more, that the characters are actually very balanced if you give them arms that match their powers better. For example, removing the guardians (shields) from Helix made him a competent fighter.
There are loads of ways to customize and choose a fighting style that’s best for you. In the party mode, there are also multiple other ways to play. There is a basketball mode, a volleyball mode and more to break up from the standard fighting that’s present in the rest of the game. They’re all really fun, and I really appreciate the diversity.
Visually pleasing across the board
I’m not the pickiest when it comes to visuals (I wear glasses), but I do know when something looks bad. That’s not the case here, however. Everything looks polished, the characters are all unique and full of detail.
As for general visual problems, I didn’t have any problems with framerate issues during my time playing the game. Things were very smooth, and I can report no issues.
I like the minimal design of the menu, but I do wish that it would show me a bit more. I have no idea what that “more” could be, but it feels really empty. There aren’t many sub-menus, so maybe that’s where my reservations lie.
Music and Sound: The catchiest tune I’ve heard in awhile
The direction of the music from the game is pretty great. However, there isn’t a ton of variation away from the main theme. Most of the songs in the game are derived from the main theme. Fortunately, I’m very fond of the theme song, so it didn’t bug me. But, if you don’t like the song, you’ll probably go insane as it’s woven into every facet of the game.
Sound direction is solid, though. I always appreciate the little details in the sound, like different sounds for different arms and characters. Even the sounds from Helix are great (whoo OOo oop) and give me a smile. I am seriously loving the sound effects.
Seriously, get ARMS
The game isn’t perfect, but it is darn fun. Just like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it made my sisters want to play with me often. They aren’t usually ones to play games like these, but there’s something appealing about them. I think that’s the charm of ARMS: it appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike by providing fun visuals and fascinating gameplay.
There’s more stuff coming to the game throughout the year, so it will get more complete as we go. We’re getting more characters and modes, so keep that in mind. The game is really just like Splatoon, with such weird concepts being executed so well and content updates after release.
So, seriously, you should go give ARMS a try. I think that it’s a great game, and should be loads of fun for everyone that wants to beat up their friends with elemental fists and lasers.
This review was written with a commercial copy of the game. If you want more ARMS Coverage, head to our ARMS page and stay tuned for a podcast episode review soon!
If you want to write a review, or just leave a review score for this game, head over to Nintendo Switch Network’s page for ARMS.
- Wonderful roster of characters
- Large weapons selection to suit your style
- Multiple fun modes to play
- Future updates with more characters give hope
- Very little story and lore present
- Future updates show game might not have been most complete
- Large difficulty spikes in single-player