Get ready to put up a fight, because tomorrow is the official release date of Arms on the Nintendo Switch, a punchy fighting game centered on a colorful cast of characters that compete against one another using interchangeable arms and offering a wide variety of play styles. I happened to get my copy today, so here are five quick observations I made about the game and its portability:
1) There are multiple controller options, offering varying degrees of nuanced control.
Thus far, there have been several reviewers that have commented on a lack of precision of the motion controls of “Arms,” suggesting that this prevents the title from being classified as a more serious fighting game. However, there are other control schemes, and what really stood out to me is how precise the joy-con controls are (even over the pro-controller). Each character offers a different playstyle that is especially influenced by the arms that are selected before each match. Players have the option to use the pro controller as well as the single joy-cons in conjunction with the strap-rail buttons for maximum portability. My favorite control scheme is the joy-con in combination with the strap-rail buttons, as pressing the left thumb stick to block felt really intuitive and punching with the side-buttons allowed me to have more leverage on my punching speed. Additionally, the joy-cons are far more portable than the pro-controller, so this will likely be my go-to solution for on-the-go gaming. The motion controls are also fun, and to my surprise, my Apple Watch actually registered my heartrate and motions towards my daily exercise count! For two players to utilize motion controls, however, two sets of joy-cons are required, so many people may initially be relying on the single joy-con mode or the pro-controller and joy-con combination for two-player fun.
2) There are different modes— and Skillshot, in single-player mode, is a lot of fun!
Arms is more than just an all-out punch fest; it offers V-Ball, a volleyball like mode where the ball is an explosive; hoops, where you punch your opponents into the net to score; and skillshot, where the player uses their selected arms to punch targets.
3) The single-player grand prix mode keeps things fresh in a lot of small, important ways.
In between punching matches with opponents, the prix will also mix in the different play modes. After a few punching matches, you may be tested with a game of V-ball or hoops. Additionally, during matches, explosives and health-restoring options will drop. I really enjoyed grabbing my opponent and punch-tossing them out of the health-restoring ring—it was especially cathartic when the match was particularly close!
4) The online party mode is zany and fresh.
The online mode allows eight players to switch off in matches of up to four people. Sometimes these are team battles and sometimes it’s an all-out brawl. At one point, the four players were even working together against a larger opponent. These modes are randomized too, which really kept me on my toes. I found this to be exciting, and really enjoyed fighting against mini-opponents as I waited to be in a match.
5) The motion controls are portable-friendly.
The motion controls can be used while sitting; tilting the joy-cons moves the fighter, and throwing punches in quick, short bursts allows this title to become especially mobile because the motion controls do not require a lot of room. While it is still fun as a living room title, it can also be played in in a vehicle or even at a table with friends. As I mentioned above, my favorite controller option is the joy-con in horizontal mode, and becoming familiar with this style of play maximizes portability.
Bonus: The arenas have a lot of personality.
Perhaps Nintendo pulled from the Overwatch playbook, but the arenas and the colorful characters really make this a charming title. It’s a nice early entry to the Nintendo Switch’s library, and playing against friends online in randomized stages allows for a lot of versatile experiences.
This is a fun, competitive title that offers a new style of play with the joy-cons, and it is sure to be a delight for anybody looking for a multi-player game. The option to take it on the go also makes it a great game for road-trips, and I found this title to be a suitable mobile addition to the Switch’s library.