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.)

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. 
  • Nagato

    For such a seemingly fun little title, it’s still an absolute shame how it comes with a full 60 bucks retail price and has a pretty much online-only focus.

  • As stated, you can still do offline as if you were playing online as with any fighter. Its just more solo focused offline.

  • SuuLoliBoob

    It’s better then having a $40 price tag with a shit ton of micro transactions *cough* *cough* overwatch *cough* *cough*

    But yeah, they really should have lowered it to at least a 50-40 dollar price tag. But this is nintendo, the company that made a tech demo into a full priced game for the same system.

  • A Loli de 42 ‘anos

    Considering all modes in online are also available in single player (with the addition of free content in the future) I think it’s more worth its price tag than something like Overwatch or Street Fight 5.

  • Chocolate ISISCream

    I wish this was on PS4.

  • Dom Fass

    Would have been nice to have a story mode to flesh out why this universe exists. Maybe a bio on each of the characters

  • Travis Touchdown

    Great game, to be sure, but the lack of really in depth single player modes makes me think that this game could have been a masterpiece.

  • Ckarasu

    The camera is a bit whack in Free for Alls, because someone thought it was a great idea to make it so that getting punched by someone should immediately cause you to lock onto them and getting grabbed also does something similar. Would have liked there to be a camera-style option or something. I’m sure someone likes the default, but others would prefer to stay locked on to their original target.

  • I literally wrote about this, let me quote myself:
    “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.”

  • Is that a slight at Zelda Breath of the Wild :p

  • SuuLoliBoob

    Ouch, you hurt me again Jordan D:

  • Feniks

    Usually games like this drop in price pretty fast. But this is Nintendo: the laws of economics doesn’t apply.

  • Michael Richardson

    It was OK, but the testpunches didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in me. Most of the game modes weren’t very fun, the motion controls didn’t feel responsive at all (and this is coming from someone who uses gyro in Splatoon), and, after the first day, testpunches struggled to hold my attention for more than 20 minutes before I got a bit tired of it.

    If it was a budget eshop title, I probably would have downloaded it, but this isn’t worth $60.

  • A Loli de 42 ‘anos

    It’s a freaking Nintendo game!

  • ぽっぴっぽー

    I think 9.5 is too high of score but you know Michael I have enjoyed it MORE than BotW so far. :D

  • Tromboner

    It’s easily my favorite new IP in quite some time. I also thought I would hate the motion controls and end up playing exclusively with the controller, but the exact opposite has happened. Hopefully this can be the start of an exciting new franchise.

  • The Clansman

    not enough strong black afro women beating you