ARMS is an interesting case. It wasn’t revealed with the switch immediately. ARMS made its public debut in the first Nintendo Switch presentation held in January of 2017. ARMS released later that year. The game’s announcement was odd. The trailer started off with an adult and a schoolgirl staring each other down. They then grew the noodle arms and began a fight. Needless to say, most watching live weren’t that interested. ARMS was one of the first games released for the Switch. I really enjoyed it when it first came out, but I couldn’t remember anything from my experience. The announcement of “an ARMS fighter for Smash” really was a good excuse to look at it again.
Another ARMS fighting tournament is being held. Organized by Max Brass, these tournaments exist to find the strongest warriors to defend the world, and entertain fans around it. The closest thing to a story mode is the grand prix. Where you, as your selected fighter, challenge up to 12 opponents to prove that you are the ARMS league champion. Depending on your selected difficulty, you will fight either T.O. Max Brass or the conniving Dr. Coyle at the end of your journey. ARMS has basically no story, but the commentator character Biff supplies a lot of flavor text that I enjoyed reading.
ARMS gameplay is incredibly simple and formulaic. Each character has arms, or something acting as them, that can extend an incredibly long distance. Your goal, in the main mode, is to fight your opponent until their health-bar diminishes completely. As you throw punches you will fill a gauge. When the gauge is complete, you can perform a rush attack! The rush attack serves the same purpose for every fighter, but the damage and effects it will cause are dependent on the ARMS you have equipped at the time.
Every fighter has their own unique skills and abilities. Helix can stretch in all sorts of different ways. Misango has a mask that can form a shield in front of him! Yet, every character felt the exact same when I played through the game. The formula just got stale. There’s not a lot of difference to spice things up, and the basic concept quickly lost all of its draw. By the end of my journey, I was simply waiting for it to be over.
ARMS features three minigames. A target minigame where you try to throw punches to hit targets and rack up a combo. You’re always against an opponent who can interrupt you an all sorts of silly ways. A volleyball minigame where you bounce a giant beach ball back and forth between a volleyball net against another fighter. My personal favorite was the basketball minigame. Where you try to grab another opponent and use them as the ball in a game of basketball. Every once in awhile, you get one as a small break in the grand prix mode. I kind of wish the whole game was just these minigames. They are easily the most standout part of the experience for me.
ARMS also offers two more sidemodes. A minigame simply called “get ARMS” and the gallery mode. In get ARMS you’ll play a minigame trying to rack up a score and earn ARMS for the character you have equipped. What you’ll get is random, and I really don’t like it at all. In gallery mode, you can view all sorts of renders, concept art, and comics. The comics tell small stories relating to the different fighters in a variety of situations. The gallery made my poor grand prix experience worth it.
ARMS is a beautiful game. It has more vibrant colors than a candy store in Disneyland, and set designs that are downright beautiful. The ARMS soundtrack, in my opinion, is wonderful but incredibly repetitive. It all uses a very similar tone, and the same “woah-oah-oah-o-o-o-oh” sound over, and over, until I got sick of it. Yet, I’m absolutely ready for it to be in Smash.
Overall, my experience with ARMS is a poor one. I truly believe that this game had everything going for it except the gameplay. This has provided an interesting realization for me. I think it’s important to go back and look at what you once thought was great, and imagine why you thought it. I don’t think I was ever in love with ARMS. I was simply in love with what ARMS promised us. A unique new first-party game for the Switch. Even with all of the free updates, this game couldn’t save itself. If Nintendo decides to go into an ARMS 2, I’ll definitely be interested in how they shake it up. I wouldn’t recommend purchasing ARMS. Especially not at the $60 the game launched at.
Min Min has joined the fight! The team had considered adding Ninjara, but the ARMS development team requested Min Min instead. Her moveset takes the one-two nature of ARMS and translates it into 2D! I’m incredibly surprised they got it to work well. ARMS already had an assist trophy, and mii fighter costumes, but now we’re getting the Spring Stadium stage and some music tracks! Certainly an odd choice, but I’m not against it. It seems ARMS will become a staple of Nintendo’s catalog. I’m excited to see where it goes from here!