ARMS, the new IP from Nintendo, is something fresh and different, combining the DNA of an over the shoulder third person shooter and a fighting game. Nintendo have delivered a unique and extremely fun experience with ARMS.
At the games core lies an extremely deep combat system, with ten characters available, all with their own distinct play styles. ARMS leans more on strategy than button mashing, timing your grabs, blocks and punches are paramount to your success on the battlefield, going out there and spamming attacks saw me taken down rather swiftly. ARMS is all about patience.
On defense you can have your combatant dash left or right to avoid attacks, if you prefer to stand your ground you can bring your fists up to block attacks, it can be punishing and also leaves you open to throws so I would suggest mixing in dashes with static blocks to keep your enemy on their toes.
The control scheme within ARMS is fairly simple, making it an easy game to pick up but harder to master. Being a Nintendo Switch exclusive you have two control choices at your disposal, standard controllers (eg: fixed Joy-Con or the Pro Controller) or if you want to feel like a spring armed Mike Tyson (lisp not included) - the motion enabled Joy-Con would be your choice. The standard control scheme is easier to grasp but the fun lies within the motion controls.
A gripe I have with the controls comes from curling, you see when you throw a punch you can curl them, just like the bullets in the film Wanted. You see when playing via standard controls, movement and curling are both mapped to the left analogue stick, thus not permitting you to do both at the same time. Motion controls come with similar problems, to move you need to tilt both Joy-Cons at the same time to move in a desired direction, if you aren't precise enough your avatar will simply plant their feet in protect, leaving you open to attacks or grapples.
Each of the ten characters has three sets of ARMS available to them, they have different pros and cons, and don't have to be paired. Should you choose to assign a missile launcher to one arm and a slow, yet high damage dealing variant to your other arm, you can. ARMS allows you to mix and match, creating a play style of your choosing. Combining unique abilities such as Ninjara's invisibility, Ribbon Girl's double jump or Master Mummy's regeneration make for a varied and forever changing experience on the battlefield. Bare in mind you need a lot of coin to purchase the various character related ARMS.
Throughout the game, you earn coins which can be cashed-in for time extensions in a mini-game where you knock down stationary targets. Upon mini-game completion you unlock new weaponry, sadly it's a random drop - both of arm and for what character said arm is linked to. This equates to an extensive amount of coin grinding in Grand Prix mode.
Grand Prix sees you select one of ten characters, facing off against the other nine in a series of best of three matches, it's a simple concept which is sadly void of narrative, fleshing out their characters would have gone a long way, especially when you compare the slew of current fighters out in the market.
The graphical styling of ARMS is a huge positive, it fits right in with the rest of the Nintendo stable with its vibrant colours and characters big on look and personality. Levels within the game are just as distinctive, Twintelle's Cinema Deux mixes in cars for cover, Ribbon Ring looks like your school's seasonal dance providing elevated platforms for hiding or vantage. Kid Cobra's Snake Park was my favourite arena in the game, scattered throughout are spinning discs, which can be used to fly around the map quickly, either in pursuit or in avoidance.
If Grand Prix isn't your thing there are several other modes available, target practice is probably one to avoid. V-Ball is Nintendo's take on volleyball, Hoops (an improvement on V-Ball) is a basketball mode where you need to grab your rival on the court and fire them through a hoop for points. There are also 2-2 and four way dance options available, these focus more on chaos and less on strategy, punches fly from every direction, forcing you to go the route of button masher, rather than tactician.
You will need to complete one run through of the Grand Prix mode before you can access online ranked match ups, I found the servers to be stable, with no major latency noticed during my battles. With scheduled tournaments already in the works courtesy of Nintendo, ARMS looks to be a title that could have some serious staying power.
ARMS isn't your typical fighting game, standing alone amongst a sea of 2D fighters, it does so proudly, wearing it's quirkiness like a badge of honor.
3.75 out of 5
+ Diverse & Fun Roster
+ Surprising Amount of Depth & Customisation
+ Unique Look & Feel
- Gets Repetitive
ARMS WAS REVIEWED USING A RETAIL DOWNLOAD KEY PROVIDED BY NINTENDO