Review: Arms (Switch) [4.0 UPDATE] - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Sunday, December 10, 2017

Review: Arms (Switch) [4.0 UPDATE]

by Danny Bivens

ARMS version 3.0 and 4.0 updates.

Original review from July 2017 follows the updated text focusing on the 3.0 and 4.0 updates.

Nintendo has been good at sticking to their promise of keeping the updates rolling with Arms. Now is just as good of a time as any to get back into Arms with new stages, modes and characters keeping the game fresh.

Both of the updates bring a number of balance adjustments to characters and weapons and a whole lot more. Perhaps the biggest additions here were the new characters - Lola Pop, Misango and Springtron. While each of these three new characters bring something new to the table, I found myself having the most fun with Misango.

Similar to Byte & Barq, Misango comes with a buddy character that feels just as useful if not more than the robotic canine. This spirit buddy takes the form of a mask that can be worn by Misango after charging your punches for a certain amount of time. There are three different abilities that he can get that correspond to the spirit buddy being red, blue or yellow. Red makes Misango resistant to punches, increases damage to throws, but decreases his speed. Blue increases mobility but decreases arm girth and throw damage. Yellow fills up the Rush Meter faster, blocks incoming punches automatically when initiating a Rush Attack, but decreases movement speed and grab damage. All of this makes Misango an extremely versatile character, however, it is definitely challenging to master these nuances to gameplay.

New modes and features have also found their way into the game. In the same vein as Spatfests, Arms has a new limited time event called Party Crash. These events are very similar to the regular online Party Match, however, the Party Crash gives players bonuses for playing as specific characters and/or using specific arms in each fight. Every fifteen minutes, the bonuses for the lobby change, encouraging players to use a wide variety of arms over the entirety of the event.

Badges, the games answer to achievements, are a cool new feature that were introduced into Arms with the 3.2 update back in October 2017. Players unlock them by completing various achievements in the game. They range from doing simple things like just booting up the game to throwing 10,000 punches. The badges can be displayed alongside a player’s name in matches. Not only that, but the badges also give players in game credit that they can use to get more arms. There are well over one hundred of these in the game so that will likely keep players busy for quite a long time.

All of the updates with the new characters and modes have helped to keep the whole Arms experience fresh. Nintendo has added on to an already solid title to keep things more engaging. If you own Arms or are a lapsed player, now is a great time to get back into the fight.

Original review

When I first saw Arms back in January 2017, my immediate reaction was to avoid the game at all costs. I liked what I was seeing from the game visually, but the thought of motion controlled boxing AGAIN really turned me off. After sinking a significant amount of time into Nintendo’s latest take on the fighting genre, I have to admit. I’m impressed. It’s not perfect, but the visual style, art direction and overall experience are surprisingly unique and fun.

Arms does suffer the same issues that Splatoon on the Wii U did in the fact that outside of the multiplayer, there really isn’t a whole lot to do. Sure, you can make your way through the Grand Prix mode multiple times, throw your friends in a basketball hoop or even go through the 1-on-10 mode. They’re fun, but online multiplayer is where it’s at with Arms. The community is vibrant (pre-Splatoon 2 at least) and as long as you practice, you can have some competitive, fair matches with other players. Party Matches used to be my go-to for the game, but recently, I’ve endeavored to “git gud” and started playing Ranked. The level of challenge (typically) is great and you can really have some fun, engaging matches.

Controls in Arms are derivative. I personally don’t care much for the motion controls, mainly because they seem to limit the movement of your character. I’ve had absolutely no problems playing with the Pro Controller or in Handheld mode. Any mistake that I’ve made in fights have been completely my fault. The gameplay is nuanced and really does require you to read your opponents. Did you try to dodge a grab instead of breaking it with a single punch? Boom, you’re getting thrown to the ground! Did you screw up the timing of your Rush Attack and your opponent blocked every single incoming punch? Well, congratulations, you did minimal damage and just wasted it! Small mistakes throughout the match can really lead to you (or your opponents) downfall.

The roster of characters in Arms is diverse and all bring something different to the table. The designs are great and the odd backstories that Nintendo is crafting via social media for them is…alarming (in a funny way). In a game where the characters could have easily been carbon copies of each other, Nintendo went in deep by making each character feel unique. You could probably say that there are definitely character types (light, medium and heavy), but the way characters control and their abilities make mastering them challenging and fun. The ability to change and get new arms also brings a customization aspect to the experience which can make it difficult.

There is no getting around it. Arms is actually a good game teetering on the level of becoming great. With the planned updates coming to the game post-launch, I expect things to just get better from here. My biggest complaint about Arms has got to be the motion controls - I just couldn’t get into them. However, it’s essentially a non-issue with all of the other control options out there. Don’t count this game out just because the shiny new Splatoon 2 is everything you think you wanted. Nintendo has crafted something special here.

Version 2.0

I did get to spend some time playing through version 2.0 of the game. Max Brass is a fun character (cool design and I like to play as him, too!), and some of the changes, like adding a Stats section, is pretty detailed for OCD gamers like myself. Headlock Scramble was also crazy, yet fun to play through.

Final Score: 8.5

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