Not many people knew what to expect ahead of ARMS’ release on the Nintendo Switch. Whilst it was one of their most-hyped exclusive games to their platform, it has been until now an unknown franchise for the majority of gamers, partly down to this being its debut. Allowing exclusivity to a platform when you’re just starting out is a bold move, but after getting our hands on the title, it’s become clear that the Switch is the only place where ARMS can shine.
The format is a relatively simple one; players choose a fighter from a relatively small roster and duke it out against a computer opponent or real-life adversary in a punch-up reminiscent of the boxing mini-game on Wii Sports. Taking that style of play and expanding on it hugely with power-ups, bombs you can shoot out of the sky towards your opponent and more means that every battle is a unique one.
Standard boxing matches aren’t the only thing you can do here however. One of the modes we particularly enjoyed wrapping our arms around for example was the volleyball (or V-Ball) one. Here you have to smash the ball over each side of the net, as is the case in a standard volleyball game. Don’t worry about matches going on forever here though; if things go on for too long then the ball will start to crumble and the bomb inside it will be unleashed, exploding on whoever it reaches as it detonates.
Online plays seems to work seamlessly, once you’ve invited your friend to join you using another device, of course. Nintendo really fall short with their friends’ system. You can make a private lobby for you and a pal, but you’ll have to communicate on a tablet, or mobile or something similar to let the others know your lobby is now open to join. Invites should have been a part of the Switch from the word ‘go’, so it’s increasingly frustrating to see the platform fall behind here.
Putting that aside, online is even more fun than the regular game. More unpredictable than ever before, players are able to jump right into the action in huge fights where up to 20 players are shuffled around and placed into matches with others. It’s frantic and frenzied, allowing you a different experience each time you play.
Then there’s the levelling-esque system, that allows you to collect coins as you progress and go to a shooting range, where various different arms for each character are available. When you first start the game, each fighter looks to have their own unique abilities and arms to take down an opponent, but you can unlock these for each of the characters depending on how much time and effort you put into playing. It’s an incentive to keep at it.
After a weekend of fun antics and excitement, it’s clear that ARMS is a brilliant success. Whilst there’s a lot of room to expand upon, the foundations laid here are perfect to be built on moving forward, and with the promise of free DLC moving forward, ARMS could be one of those games – much like Overwatch – that ages perfectly and gets better in time. Expect to be playing this one for some time if you manage to pick it up.
ARMS is available now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch.