Tons of players got to try out ARMS during the global testfire, which is about to open up once again. While players were trying out the online multiplayer, I was playing the full, final release version of the game. This includes all the modes seen online, as well as a few more that you’ll get to enjoy on release day, June 16th.
This isn’t our review, that will come later. Instead I wanted to break down my impressions so far, without this becoming too in-depth or objective. I’ve played for a few hours, beating the main game mode a couple of times at different difficulty settings. Still not enough to give a full assessment of the game, but enough to say this: ARMS hits all the right notes for Switch.
That’s not to say this will be “the next big thing”, but it’s exactly what the Switch needs at the exact right time. Nintendo has planned out the release of the Switch so much better than any of their consoles before it. While the Wii hit with Zelda and Wii Sports, it had little else available around launch. The Wii U flooded the market with some big games, but nothing worth the price for a lot of gamers.
Each of these had large stretches right after launch where there weren’t big releases to keep players interested. The Switch is fixing this by having good games hit at least once a month or so. It launched with the system selling Zelda: Breath of the Wild, then kept players engaged with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and now we have ARMS just one month before Splatoon 2 kicks things into high gear.
Does ARMS live up to those other lofty titles? Not quite, but it is still a surprisingly fun fighting experience. Heading into ARMS I wasn’t expecting much. For some reason the game just didn’t seem all that fun or interesting. Once I picked up the full game though, I was hooked pretty quickly.
One thing I will say is that using a standard controller is far better than motion controls, in my opinion. I’ve tried both, and while motion controls make for a more chaotic experience, and thus a more entertaining one when friends and alcohol is involved, when playing seriously I highly recommend the standard controls.
Using these, ARMS quickly takes on a new life, feeling more like a new, updated Punch-Out than something totally new. That’s not to say it is derivative in any way, in fact ARMS is quite unique largely thanks to its style and characters. Instead it just shows how tight the gameplay can feel in this configuration.
Once in a fight the game might take awhile to really show itself to you. Curving punches, taking out enemy arms, utilizing different fists for different purposes. All of these deeper strategies will form once you put enough time in, and the game will take on a new life once they do. It’s easy to see how ARMS could be a new competitive game, if Nintendo supports it properly.
Outside of the fighting modes there are some more fun styles of play. As seen in the testfire, there’s volleyball, basketball, and a target mode. Each offers something to break out of the fighting formula, though I doubt people will actively load these outside of the occasional match.
Most of your time with ARMS will be spent in the Grand Championship, where you take on ten fighters in a row. This also mixes in these alternate modes, but the majority are straight fights. This also offers some story content, though many will start skipping these sections after the first few times through. This mode is the most challenging and rewarding, and will be the main focus outside of online multiplayer.
There’s more to ARMS, including unlocking new fists for use with different fighters. For more info, check out the video below, but also just wait for our final review which will arrive before launch. ARMs hits Nintendo Switch on June 16th.