Nintendo’s latest original IP, ARMS, has recently been released, much to the satisfaction of stretchy punch fanatics around the world. Praised for its unique innovations within the fighting game genre, many people hold the opinion that Nintendo has once again hit the ball out of the park. However, is ARMS worth your hard earned cash? Does a game that demands you to endlessly throw punches like nobody’s business really have the substance to justify a $60.00 price tag? Using this brief guide, you should be able to determine whether or not Nintendo’s frantic fist fiesta is the right purchase for you.
Let’s begin by getting the bad news out of the way…
ARMS sadly offers extremely little in the category of single player offline content. Its Grand Prix operates like a traditional arcade mode, but with its depressingly bare bones presentation, it becomes tiresome very quickly. The method for unlocking further arm types for your fighters also lacks any sense of excitement, with it being tied to a repetitive target punching mini game that bases its unlock ratio purely on luck. So, aside from attempting the lackluster Grand Prix and periodically boring yourself as you attempt to unlock new arm types, offline players will find little else to indulge in. This overwhelming lack of single player offline content is most certainly the biggest flaw of ARMS.
From a typical fighting game perspective, ARMS’s lack of single player offline content doesn’t stand out from the crowd as abnormal. Many more games of the genre suffer from this same fault, often offering little more than a simplistic arcade ladder and generic unlockables. However, certain games break away from this content lacking trend, such as this year’s superhero brawler, Injustice 2, from NetherRealm Studios. Whilst offering the predictable arcade ladder (only with character specific endings, unlike ARMS), it proudly flaunts a cutscene-laden campaign, a plethora of collectible loot for rich character customization, and an enjoyable means for unlocking new content via various challenges in the form of the ‘Multiverse’. As a result of this, Injustice 2 provides a deeply satisfying experience for individual players, as well as the wonderful fighting mechanics that players would rightfully expect from the creators of the champion of all fighting games, Mortal Kombat. The bar for single player offline content has been set, and ARMS, unfortunately, fails to come at all close to it.
Now that that’s out of the way, onto the good news…
If you intend to spend your valuable punching hours competing with friends and strangers in offline and online fisticuffs, ARMS is a blast. It offers truly wonderful and satisfying gameplay that revolves firmly around both practice and experimentation. Trying new arm combinations with various characters, and discovering how to maximize the effectiveness of your chosen character’s special abilities, will engross all manner of fighting fanatics. Both offline and online modes of play benefit from pleasing interfaces, and online multiplayer connectivity is robust and reliable, with little to no lag during matches.
Much in the same way that Nintendo has always innovated and pushed boundaries within their daring forays into gaming genres, from Super Mario’s iconic platforming, to The Legend of Zelda’s groundbreaking open world adventures, to Metroid Prime’s revolutionary first person exploration, to Splatoon’s stellar team based colourful ink flinging (the list could go on and on), ARMS makes similar strides within the world of fighting. No other fighting game is quite like it, and it is of little probability that that will ever change.
As a single player offline experience, ARMS is more disappointing than being told you’re going to Disneyland, only to arrive at a burning shed containing Goofy’s slowly melting corpse. However, as an experience to be shared with others, ARMS is yet another magnificent Nintendo gem. It is overflowing with individuality and style, and it further bolsters the Switch’s impressive and rapidly expanding multiplayer lineup.