Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform(s):Switch
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Arms is nothing, if not ambitious. One of the (very) few big games to come shortly after the Nintendo Switch, Arms is a game that created an innovative take on the sometimes rote 1-on-1 fighting game genre. In place of complex combos, players battle for positioning and openings to sling various extendable arms into the face of their opponent. It’s not the most expansive game at $60, but there’s still plenty of enjoyment to be had.
The playability of Arms falls on how much you enjoy punching people with slinky arms, as that’s the full extent of the gameplay. Regardless of play mode, you’ll spend the vast majority of time throwing your weaponized hands into the body, target, or ball so that things happen and you win the match. There’s some variation to this formula, but they all involve punching.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as the mechanics feel fantastic when done right. There are modes for volleyball, target practice, and even a pretty great boss fight that demonstrate the full extent you can take one cool idea. Luckily, Arms knew just 1-on-1 fights would get old, so single and multiplayer keeps a constant rotation on the play type for each round.
Arms really took off when you joined the multiplayer. Instead of picking a game mode and finding an opponent, you instead get placed in a lobby with a group of other players, and the game works its magic. Each round, they’d pair between two and four people together for a random event chosen from their pool of game types. After that match, they’d keep you in the lobby and rotate to a different group with a different mode. You could even bring a friend, and the game would automatically activate one or both of you to play the next round. It’s a refreshing take on the standard multiplayer matchmaking that keeps everything moving while never feeling stale.
Even with all the good times, Arms doesn’t offer a whole bunch. Outside of the multiplayer lobbies, there’s a relatively bare single-player mode that has you fight eight opponents in succession. You can also unlock different weapons for each character, and that’s about it. For the full $60 price tag, Arms can feel painfully sparse, offering one experience and slight variations upon it.
Perhaps the best comparison would be to a great Ramen shop. There’s only one choice of ramen, but you can put in a couple extra ingredients to make it suit your tastes. If you don’t like that ramen, though, then Arms may not be for you.
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