Nintendo’s far-reaching boxing fighter, ARMS, is about to come out! Before it does, find out where we rank ARMS, after spending a couple of weeks playing the game, with our official review!
Nintendo Brings That Big Fight Feel
When Nintendo unveiled the Nintendo Switch, during their Nintendo Direct in January, they also revealed a slew of titles for the mobile system. One of those titles was ARMS, a slinky-meets-boxing fighting game, where fighters compete to earn their chance at the title, ARMS Grand Champion.
At first glance, most may underestimate ARMS’ capability of holding its own in the fighting game world. After all, the likes of Tekken 7, Injustice 2, and Street Fighter V currently own the market as the top fighting games out right now. Although, despite the art style aimed for a younger audience, ARMS is one fighter that should not be underestimated, by any means.
Rather than adopting the conventional 2D style with 3D movements, Nintendo decided to flip the script of the fighting game genre by freeing the movement to allow gamers to use the entire arena. On a visual aspect, it allows for a more enriching experience with interesting and scenic views that really allow you to appreciate fighting in the various environments. On a fighting standpoint, it creates a whole new strategy of gameplay, helping it to stand apart from the rest.
When you begin playing ARMS for the first time, the game does a good job of fitting you with training wheels by allowing you to select your difficulty for Grand Prix mode. While also serving as your story, the Grand Prix is mainly the gamers way of getting better by training against tougher opponents and trying out characters. Some seasoned fighting gamers may disregard the easier levels and jump into the game head-first. I’ll tell you from experience, that’s a good way to get pummeled.
As you raise your level in Grand Prix, the opponents get exponentially harder. You discover strategizing and blocking are your best and only way of surviving the onslaught being performed by the CPU. As of today, I’ve only conquered level 5 out of 8 and it hasn’t been easy. I got beat a LOT. The higher you get, the more you feel like any fight could be your last and you cherish the moments when you get to perform an activity, instead of a fight, more on that later. Fighting in the Grand Prix, along with the other modes, is a great way to earn money, which allows you to buy better arms for your favorite characters. It’s another way to get better in the ring and set you up for success in ranked modes.
ARMS Lacking Depth
While ARMS is a fighter that sets itself apart, positively, in the gameplay department, at the same time it sets itself apart negatively in the story department. Considering these are the same developers who created Mario Kart, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by a lack of story. However, unlike Mario Kart, which uses known characters from well-known games, ARMS would get an added boost with some story.
In a time where the top fighting games have compelling storylines and interactions, ARMS is as basic as it gets with its story. As I stated previously, Grand Prix is meant to provide you with a story, but ends up being barely anything at all. When you select the character you’ll be rolling with (Mine is typically Min Min), a strange alien announcer, named Biff, appears and provides you with a little bit of backstory on your character. It’s really not much, though. This announcer man is your only gateway to story and he becomes a hype man, more than anything.
I would’ve loved to have learned who Biff is, if we were on some strange distant planet, who these characters are, if they have a beef with each other, and if they were all the product of some terrible experiment gone wrong. Unfortunately, Nintendo does its Nintendo thing and just waves it off, telling gamers to just accept it.
I will say the one good thing about the sample-sized story is how the tone is created. Despite the commentator speaking a non-descriptive alien language, the words and tone of voice help set up what you’re about to do very well. In a way, you can really see the Japanese influence come through. I’ve watched a lot of original Sasuke obstacle courses and they’ve got the cadence and tone down in ARMS.
Modes Make the Game
I realize I’ve talked a lot about Grand Prix mode, but that’s not the only mode ARMS has available. In fact, it’s not even its best mode. I said before that Grand Prix gives the gamers an idea of what’s in store for them. Well, in addition to gameplay, difficulty, characters, and story (or lack thereof), it also introduces special games every 3rd level, out of 10 levels. Games like Hoops (Basketball), V-Ball (Volleyball), Target Practice, just to name a few. These games are all fully accessible via their Versus Mode where you can play up to 4 players at a time.
In Hoops, you win by shooting or dunking your opponent into the enlarged basketball hoop at the end of the court. You can grapple or beat them to a pulp to get it done but the first to 10 points wins. V-Ball plays out a little differently. While it’s the same game you know, they have a bit of a twist. Instead of using a traditional volleyball, they use a bomb that will explode if it touches the ground or when the timer goes off. They’re all fun games that help break up the monotony of fighting over and over again.
Additional modes include Ranked mode, where you play against others to prove your ARMS dominance, Get Arms, where you transfer coins to play target practice for a chance at cool prizes, and the meat of the game Party Mode, where you play online with players around the world in different, fun matches.
What makes Party Mode the best part of the game are the varying types of gameplay involved. At one point, you can have a triple threat match. The next match could then be you teaming up with your opponents to take out a boss, or you can play basketball against 3 other people. Variety is the spice of life and it’s the spice of this game.
Nintendo: The Land of eSports Opportunities
Nintendo hasn’t always been the best at reading the room and understanding what consumers want but, give them credit, they do know how to create a great eSports game. Games like Mario Kart, Splatoon, Super Smash Bros., the recently announced Pokken Tournament DX, and now ARMS show just how much Nintendo covets eSports. In fact, at E3 2017 they’re dedicating their booth to eSports with 3 giant tournaments.
How will this affect ARMS, specifically? As it grows in popularity among the eSports elite, Nintendo will be forced to create new content for the game to keep their interest, before having to produce a sequel. This will only be good news for gamers, as ARMS has the potential to be something special. If it can find its backstory and create drama between characters, it can become one of the highlights of the new Nintendo Switch era.
Revolutionary Fighter Needing A Backstory
I enjoyed the heck out of ARMS. The gameplay, the fighting mechanics, the quirky characters, the interesting modes, all of it. I just wanted more, though. More story, more depth. If Nintendo could’ve given me that, I would’ve said this game was up there with the likes of Tekken 7, Injustice 2, and Street Fighter V but those titles have a story. Instead, it’s a revolutionary fighting game that has all the tools to be great but needs that extra oomph a story can give to make it even better.