Written By: Artur Galvao
The Nintendo Switch is proving to be a financial success. The Nintendo Switch console has sold over 2.74 million hardware units worldwide since its launch. Those sales figures are 20 percent of what the last console — the Wii U — has sold in 4½ years. However, one of the main criticism of the console are the available games to play. Thus far, the Switch has been a personal Breath of Wild machine. Breath of Wild is arguably the game of year, but it does not warrant the CAD 399$ price tag. With Mario Odyssey coming out December, Nintendo requires great games in between now until then. Their response to the issue is a new IP called Arms. At E3 Nintendo’s confidence was on full display for the game. Establishing a full tournament for a game that had not been released is risky but it paid off.
Arms ditches the more grounded world of Nintendo’s Punch-Out!, and is a far wackier take on the boxing genre. It’s an exciting face-off as you weave around incoming fists from afar, looking for that small opening to curve your powered-up glove straight into your foe or leap into the air for perfectly timed grab. Arms is bursting with fast-paced modes and colorful exploding gloves that make every fight a blast.
For a game of this genre, gameplay either makes or break it. Pleasantly, the control is fluid and responsive. The combat of Arms is easy to pick up. You can fight any way you please: with motion-controlled Joy-Con controllers, Pro Controllers, or even a single tilted Joy-Con. The motion-control setup works well enough, since instead of throwing huge punches and tiring yourself out, subtle jabs and tilts will get the job done. Tilting the controllers to move, curve punches, and block does take a bit of getting used to, and I had the tendency to unconsciously move my Joy-Cons at the wrong time. This led me to gravitate more towards the Pro Controller or playing in portable mode, using the analogue stick for precise movements and using triggers instead of buttons to throw punches. In addition, this game encompasses a fair amount of strategy. You can not just go in swinging. Equally important is charging up your Arms to deal bigger, elementally enhanced damage, but it’s a risk because pausing to charge can leave you open to attack. There’s a great sense of give and take here: for every move you can make, there’s an equal counter, and the delicate dance of trying to outsmart your competitors can lead to some very tense moments.
The best mode that really deserves a special mention is the Party Match. This online mode transports you to a constantly shifting lobby area that is fun to watch as it is to take part in. Groups of up to 20 players (10 systems with two players each) are continually shuffled about as the lobby decides who should be matched up in the circles it creates. This means players rarely go too long without being placed or paired up with other fighters, and the lobby adapts to odd numbered groups by making frantic free-for-alls, grouping up against intimidating AI bosses, or letting local players take turns.
You’re given access to every type of Arm from the start, but they are locked to specific fighters. Be ready to shell out the money earned from fights in a target-hitting minigame for a chance at your desired glove appearing for the right fighter. You’ll still have to unlock gloves that you’ve already unlocked again for every other fighter you want to use it with. This can get tedious and some players will not devote the time to unlock the same gloves multiple times.
Arms is breath of fresh air to Switch and boxing genre, providing a simple premise with a startling amount of depth. Its rapidly evolving lobby system had me saying “just one more match.” There may not be a lot worth unlocking right now, but planned free updates may just give Arms more reason for you to keep coming back for more.
Artur’s Rating 7.9/10
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