The Nintendo Switch is just entering its third month of life. There was a lot on the line here, what with the Wii U’s crash-and-burn failure, but the Switch seems to be off to a solid start. Nintendo aren’t exactly known for their killer-app laden console launches, but apparently the system released with enough of a selection to get the job done.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the biggest hit, of course. The game achieved sales at an almost 1:1 rate with the console itself, an attach rate that Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima has called ‘unprecedented.’ Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also joined the party in April, and other big hitters like Super Mario Odyssey are on the way later this year. But what about right now? Many fans are clamoring for a game that’s a true reason to buy the system, a quality Switch exclusive title. Is ARMS that game?
The game releases worldwide next Friday, June 16, and promises to be a fighter like no other. Up to four players choose a fighter from an all-new roster of characters, engaging in combat with extendable arms with the aim of knocking their opponents' health down to 0. Mercifully, you can use traditional button presses instead of the Switch’s motion-sensing controllers to play.
Now that we understand the basics, let’s take a look at the really important issue here: Is the game any good? We’re only a week from release and the reviews have started flooding the Internet, so let’s take a look.
At the time of writing, the game sits at a Metacritic score of 78. This places it firmly in ‘Generally Favourable’ territory as far as that ranking goes, after 60 reviews from critics. The first overwhelmingly positive one comes from Cheat Code Central, who went so far as to award the game a perfect 100/100 score.
‘It’s difficult to describe just how good ARMS is,’ Jenni Lada writes. ‘The best analogy I can come up with is that it is to fighting games what Splatoon is to third-person shooters. ARMS is a bright, colorful, and welcoming game. Newcomers can easily hop in and enjoy most of the matches and modes available. Meanwhile, the more dedicated will find themselves developing complex strategies based on characters and ARMS loadouts and captivated by the opportunities to challenge others online.’
Accessibility, of course, was a given, this being a Nintendo game. It’s encouraging to hear critics commenting on the game’s competitive qualities too, and that’s a sentiment echoed by many reviewers.
‘ARMS is the first new Nintendo IP on Switch, an unusual fighting-game that's both competitive and entertaining,’ SpazioGames concluded. ‘The character design is beautiful and the game mechanics are well-balanced, even if some abilities are easier to use than others. The only problem is the single-player offering, which is not as interesting as the multiplayer one.’
All in all, ARMS hasn’t yet received a single review classed ‘negative’ by Metacritic. Sure, it’s not a total love-in, with 13 ‘mixed’ reviews criticising its rather limited single player, experimental nature and a bit of grindiness about the whole thing (‘Part of the problem is that, outside of online rankings, there’s little in the way of long-term objectives. Players slowly earn currency while fighting that can eventually be used to unlock more arms for each of their fighters via a kind of lottery system, but it takes a long time to earn enough for even a single chance to unlock new arms. And there’s a chance you might earn arms you already have,’ as the Financial Post put it), but this is excellent to hear. If you’d taken one look at the game, dismissed it as a weirdly-weird childish gimmick and moved on, it seems that you might need to get yourself a second opinion.
A killer app? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.