Arms Review – Virtual On Gone Nintendo

Arms was something special right when it was unveiled, a brand new IP and a fighting game at that. Nintendo fans seemed to be initially shocked but optimistic for this title. Now it’s time to see if Arms is the stuff of champions, or if it gets knocked out in round one.

(Note: Even though we have had the game since well before release, we wanted to make sure we spent enough time with the online community when officially released to justify the score.)

Arms
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: June 16, 2017
Players: 1-4
Price: $59.99 (Review Copy Received)

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

Arms really makes the Nintendo Switch shine when it comes to graphics. Nintendo know their system’s strengths and utilize them accordingly. Bright, colorful, and fun, Arms really stands out as a fighting game. Character designs and overall game theme is unique, and well balanced, being campy but in a good way. Each character is extremely unique, not only in appearance but in style.

Arena layouts, while simple, are extremely balanced and unique to themselves. Each arena has its own strategies that can be used to get the upper hand. Nintendo went out of their way to design a fighter completely different from other games they have done in the past, and it shines brighter because of it.

When talking about gameplay we must dive into motion controls vs standard controls. While playing with press during pre release, and after official release with the public, I found I personally can only play with motion controls, while site EiC Brandon Orselli can really only play with a controller and we are both rather good at the game. I find the motion controls extremely intuitive, allowing you to curve throws and punches in the arena in a way you just can’t do with standard inputs. The trade off is standard inputs allow more precise body movement.

Arms offers up a lot of variety and quick gameplay be it online or offline. Scattered throughout online and offline players will see themselves thrust into a variety of game modes, not just standard 1v1 game play. Whether it’s Hoops, Volleyball, or even a super powered up boss fight, Arms has some addictive gameplay that will keep you going because of the variety. The only game mode that is not enjoyable is the free-for-all 3 player mode. It becomes a “lets gang up on this guy” sort of match, which is not satisfying on either end and leads to a 1v1 where one player has just enough HP to fight. At least in the 4 play free-for-all, it’s a bit more even when you get to the end.

It would have been nice to be able to specify solo game modes though, and because that option is not there, I will have to ding this game half a point. With all that this game does right, this seems like a silly mistake, a mistake they will most likely patch in later.

One great thing about arms is that later on you can unlock all available arms for any character you want. This provides a long term goal, and allows you to battle players in a way that is unique only to you. This is done through the Get Arms mode, which is like target practice mix with a loot pinyata that you pay for with the coins you have earned though all game play modes.

Online connectivity is extremely stable and even after 60 hours of game time, I personally never had a connection issue. On top of that, there are lighting fast load times when compared to other fighting games and their online, which gives you that “one more game” feeling. The next thing you know 3 hours passed by and your own arms feel like you just got back from a boxing training camp.

Another thing arms does extremely well is sound design. Hits have that visceral impact, which is key to a fighting game like this. You need to really feel like you are landing those blows and know if you missed. Each arm has a different range of sound, and key sounds for when they are charged up.

Music in Arms is super catchy with a hint of campyness, which is the overall theme to the game. Nothing really gets boring and it’s different enough to where you will not be bothered by the music during long gameplay sessions.

There really is no story for the games characters – just some background info, who they are, and their reason to fight in the tournament. You really are not playing this game for the story, and the game has enough going for it that it does not need one. They did not force it on the player and that’s a good thing.

Arms is an amazing game and a break out from standard Nintendo titles. It accommodates a wide range of players and play styles, and has enough in it to make you keep coming back to it daily. Arms, while competitive, is accessible by everyone and anyone. People old enough to remember the Virtual On series will be right at home, and new players will soon follow. This is a must buy.

Arms was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy received from Nintendo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 9.5

The Good:

  • Great art and characters.
  • Well made and vibrant arenas.
  • Extremely well balanced gamplay.
  • Accessible by all, but still competitive.

The Bad:

  • No mode select for mini games. 
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Media, Marketing, Reviews, Interviews, and more. I do terrible things so you don't have to. Doing LIVE coverage of E3 to Tokyo Game Show for the last 10 years.