The call to ARMS is a strong one, indeed.
ARMS is a game I was very conflicted about pre-release. My first look at the game came during the 4/22/2017 Splatoon 2 Nintendo Direct. First impressions were mixed, to say the least. The biggest point of contention was the, at the time what I thought were, forced motion controls. All it brought to mind was the waggle of Wii Sports’ boxing minigame. While the minigame was fun for a short time, it quickly became tiring when the strongest strategy was quickly waggling the Wii remote around. Definitely not helped by me not exactly being Slim Goodbody.
However, the quirky and colorful graphics of ARMS stuck in my mind. It reminded me of the similar conflict I felt for Splatoon, and that became my favorite Wii U game released. ARMS was a game I knew I was going to purchase in due time, and I repeat, in due time. But at the end of the following Nintendo Direct solely focused on ARMS, it was announced that Nintendo would be hosting a downloadable demo called the ARMS Global TestPunch for the weekends of 5/26-5/28 and 6/2-6/4. I decided why not, and downloaded the demo as soon as it became available. I was up bright and early for the first session.
My mind was metaphorically blown by how much I enjoyed the game. While I didn’t exactly do well, The game was really fun and the controls were much better than I expected. I felt a rush of energy, and the game felt natural to me. I played the first 8 or so sessions before skipping out on the rest due to my real life arms becoming quite sore. But after these sessions, I knew the game was going to be a day one purchase for me.
Let’s start with the graphics. They’re quirky and colorful, much like another Nintendo series appealing to the same market, Splatoon. They’re quite appealing, with nothing really sticking out as an eyesore.
Next, let’s discuss the roster of fighters. First off, there’s the games mascots, Ribbon Girl and Spring Man. They’re both light type characters, with their special abilities being that at 25% and lower health, punches become supercharged, and up to 4 jumps respectively. There’s also Ninjara, who’s a ninja and is able to disappear while doing a dash, making him hard to hit. The well rounded fighter MinMin, who can kick in midair. The internet’s waifu, Twintelle, who’s a medium weight character and can float for a few seconds. Helix, who’s…a blob. Master Mummy, who’s heavy, meaning it’s hard to knock him down, and he can also heal himself while blocking. Mechanica, who can also hover in mid air but is a heavy character like Master Mummy. Byte & Barq, who are a robot cop and dog team. Barq is great at scoring some extra hits, and Snakeman favors slithering about.
More characters are coming as free DLC in the future, with the currently only known one being the Commissioner of the ARMS league, Max Brass. One last thing with the characters, with each of them there’s 3 alternate costumes accessed by holding down the left joystick in a direction, and selecting them. The default costume is always up. Each character also has their own arena. Each arena is visually different and haves different features, such as the Ramen Bowl’s…bowl and Ribbon Ring’s pop up floor.
You start off ARMS by choosing your favorite character and heading into Grand Prix mode. The mode is quite simple. The goal is to fight and beat 9 opponents. The announcer Biff, is sadly degraded from the fun and quirky announcer in the Directs due to being a glorified exposition fairy. Biff simply gives exposition on each of the characters. After beating 9 other opponents you fight the final boss, the aforementioned Max Brass, commissioner of the ARMS league. After defeating Max Brass he is then taken over by a character called HedLok, who gives combatants he’s attached to 4 extra ARMS. After winning this encounter as well, HedLok flies off into the sun and you’re congratulated with your combatant, in my case MinMin, posing with the championship belt. There’s 7 levels of difficulty to choose between. Also, you need to complete at least Level 4 to unlock Ranked Battle. I felt this mode was quite difficult, with the computer seemingly knowing what move you were going to do. I eventually had to resort to save scumming to complete Level 4. Dignified? No, but it got results.
On the subject of difficulty, let’s discuss the controls. They’re quite simple in concept. You hold both Joy Cons, one in each hand. Punch to…punch, tilt both Joy Cons in a direction to move, tilt the Joy Cons inwards to block, and thrust forward both hands to grab. The controls, while simple, didn’t work 100% of the time to my liking. There were times I tried to grab, but found myself punching, and vice versa. The same happened occasionally while attempting to move and block. This did not happen all the time, and it didn’t exactly cause me to lose many matches, but I felt it was still notable enough to mention. There’s also other control schemes for Joy Con and Pro Controller users, but I was unable to get really comfortable with them the way I did with the motion controls.
There is also a single player versus mode where you can try out several types of matches to train for multiplayer. This includes: normal matches, 2 on 2 matches, 3 and 4 way dances, a type of Volley Ball where the ball is giant and you use your ARMS to bounce it back and forth, a Basket Ball mode where you grab your opponent and attempt to throw them into the net, a mode where you attempt to hit as many targets as possible to score more points than an opponent, 1-on-100 where you fight 100 Helix looking black blobs, and a Training Mode to hone your skills.
There’s one last mode I want to cover before heading into the main draw, the multiplayer. The mode I’m referring to is the “ARM Getter”. See, each fighter has their own set of 3 signature ARMS. But in the ARM Getter, you can spend credits from other modes to attempt to get some new ARMS for the characters. 30 Credits are required for a short timer, 100 for a medium timer, and 200 for a long timer. During this mode, your character is given a neutral set of ARMS with you having to break targets for gift boxes containing ARMS to come on screen, which you also have to hit.
The next mode we’ll be discussing, which is possibly the most important for a fighting game of this type, is the online ‘Party’ mode where you join a party of people, fittingly enough, and fight a few of them in random matches from the aforementioned Versus mode. The mode you’re thrust into is random, and while usually it’s a 1-on-1 fight, it could also be one of the aforementioned other modes. There’s also a chance you and 2 other fighters take on a HedLok ranging from levels 4-7. Winning in this mode nets you a nice 3 coins, but losses only get you 1 coin. There’s also bonuses for fighting several matches in a row. Also, while you’re waiting for a match it’s possible to go into an ‘ARM Test’ mode where you destroy Helix looking blobs holding targets.
The final mode is a simple ranked mode. In this mode, it’s only 1-on-1 where you give it your all in a fight to either get higher or lower in rank. There isn’t much to this mode, unfortunately, but something kinda funny is that while waiting for a match you can play any of the other modes.
My final thoughts about this game are quite positive. While it wasn’t exactly perfect, I enjoyed more than I didn’t. The colorful and wacky graphics are appealing to the eye, the characters are all unique, and overall it was just a pleasant experience. But is it worth full price? In my opinion, maybe. If you enjoy fighting games and want to get your hands dirty, I would say it’s a perfect game for you. But for someone who likes games with more story, I’d wait and play something else.
ARMS is Wonderful, But not for everybody.