The super highly-anticipated Nintendo Switch presentation is finally over, and there were both jaw-dropping highs and cringeworthy lows on display. Of all the games shown, there were only two new Nintendo IPs: 1-2 Switch and ARMS. ARMS was billed as the option that featured “depth, challenge and replayability”–luckily, that appears to ring true from what we’ve seen so far.
The highly stylized art style of ARMS is immediately attractive. The game world is colorful and vibrant, and the five playable characters shown shine in their unique designs and fluid animations. Light voice acting can be heard throughout the gameplay trailer and further emphasizes the amount of polish this title has.
The main draw here is the Punch-Out!-style gameplay using the joy con controllers. Though immediately reminiscent of the Wii and the Wiimote/nunchuck set-up, the boxing motions look more natural and comfortable due to the tiny size of the joy cons. The ability to change the angle of a punch mid-blow seems to add a bit more strategy to the fighter, especially since a player can lightly interact with the environment.
The only issue with this control scheme is, well, how active a player must be to do well. Wii Sports Boxing was a title that demanded physical movement, but it was slow and broken up by knockouts. ARMS runs at a much faster pace; without built-in breaks, only those with considerable stamina may be able to enjoy a decently-long play session.
It’s a shame because the personality and charisma the game exudes are incredible. For those physically capable enough, the only other bases this game needs to cover are variety and play options. As far as variation goes, we’ve already seen at least five playable characters and four stages, not to mention three different weapon choices for each character. Whether or not we’ll see more depends on if ARMS is a full retail release or not. If it is, there are likely more characters and stages to unlock. If it’s a discounted e-shop title, however, this may be all the game has to offer.
In terms of play options, ARMS supports single-player and local multiplayer with online multiplayer somewhere down the line. The gameplay demonstration also showed points being awarded with every successful hit landed, so online leaderboards may be another feature the game boasts.
ARMS easily stood out from so much of what Nintendo had on show for the Switch. It feels like the perfect multiplayer companion to Breath of the Wild‘s long single-player adventure, and with a Spring release, it looks to continue Nintendo’s strategy of launching consoles with fun local multiplayer experiences.