Reviewers of games, or other technology products, sometimes feel it’s appropriate to let you know that a game was sent to them for free to be reviewed. The idea being that they might be a little biased if people are sending them games for free. Will Nintendo continue to supply them with early review copies if they say bad things about them?
I don’t have this problem, because nobody sends me anything for free. However, I do have a very different problem because I buy my own games. Here I am about to review Arms, and whatever I think of it, I went out and bought it with my own money. I’m not bragging, I’m just trying to point out that this also makes me biased, because I’m tempted to lead you to think that I didn’t piss away £49.99. With that in mind, here we go.
I love Arms! Arms is brilliant! I feel totally justified in dropping £49.99 on it. Except I don’t.
It’s a fighting game, very much like Street Fighter 2. You fight a person, then you go on to fight the next person. There are Grand Prix events, during which you fight ten people in a row. There are ten skill levels for a Grand Prix event, and you have to be on at least level four before the game will let you play online.
So you pick your character, play the single player Grand Prix, and try to beat level ten. Then when you’ve done that, you can pick a different character and try to beat level ten. That’s it. That’s the game. I know I haven’t touched on the multiplayer yet, but for the single player game, this is it. Ten Grand Prix events, for ten characters.
They try to mix things up by adding a couple of mini games into the fights. There’s a volleyball style that has you slapping away at a ball, trying to make it land in your opponent’s half of the court. It’s a nice change. There’s also a round where you’re hitting targets that pop up out of the ground, in an attempt to score more points than your opponent. Again, a nice way to break up the monotony of the single player game.
There’s a way to get different arms for your character. Arms are your weapons, and you have two of them. Who could have guessed. You get these different arms by competing in another mini game which involves hitting targets to win prizes. The important thing to note is that I didn’t say better arms, I said different arms. There’s basically no difference in the effects of the arms, so it’s pointless trying to get different ones.
All that being said, the game isn’t a complete waste of time, and does have more than a few good points.
It looks and sounds beautiful. Once again we are treated to a graphical and musical masterpiece by Nintendo. Arms reaffirms that the Switch is powerful enough to handle some fantastic looking games. If you ever thought that Switch users would be forever trying to justify a graphically inferior experience to that of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X, then think again. We are now far beyond the point of graphics being something to worry about. I think the resurgence of retro games, or games, as I like to call them, has done something to help push the idea that 4K 60fps graphics aren’t needed to have fun.
While we’re on the subject, I have to once again point out how important it can be to have on screen characters moving in time to the game soundtrack. It’s difficult to get off the main menu because the music is so good.
Arms was the first game I’ve played with any kind of motion controls. For a while it felt like using those controls was the best way to play the game. Although I’m using the Switch mostly in handheld mode, it still feels like motion might be the way to go.
The main control problem I experienced was one that came from me. Once you make the action, there can be a few seconds for the resulting on screen motion to happen. Not a delay in control, the action starts immediately. I mean that you throw a punch, and it takes a few seconds for that punch to get to your opponent. This can lead to the dreaded button mashing, which always leads to panic and defeat.
Overall Arms is fun, but it isn’t grabbing me. I still have the goal of beating level four so I can play online, but then what? If you’re a student that drinks and lives with five other people, you’ll love this one. If you’re a man pushing 40 who lives with his girlfriend and has absolutely no social life to speak of, then Arms might be worth giving a miss. I’ve heard that there will be free DLC. Maybe that will add something to the game. If anything, I’d say that this game is a solid first game in a franchise. I can see them doing Arms 2, and that game being vastly improved by the lessons they can learn from what came before.