I spent about three hours playing ARMS last night and I never got tired of the basics of play. I started out playing split screen one on one with my son in Versus mode. I used motion controls and he used the Pro Controller. I never felt like either of us had a specific advantage. It was fairly even the entire time with the character differences and how we exploited them often contributing to victory. After standard fighting we played the other modes. He was better at Volleyball. It was about even in Hoops and I was better in the Target mode.
After he went to play Overwatch with his friends, I played the Party Mode online for awhile. I had some wins and losses as I had the first time I played. I love how Party Mode mixes up all the various game styles and keeps rotating you through different matches and matchups. I feel like I really improve while playing other human players as much as I do in solo play against the AI. You’re earning coins in all these modes to let you play the ARMS Getter whenever you feel like it. ARMS Getter allows you to play target mode with the chance to win new ARMS for your favored fighter. This is where you can get more options to mix and match for any other mode of the game. It’s timed and you get more time depending on how much you spend. If you’ve played Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, it would be similar to the Trophy Rush in that game only with better and more useful rewards.
After online, I messed around in the Versus section. You can enter that menu as 1P only and it offers some extra modes. There is training that does a good job of showing you the various ways to counter different attacks and there’s also 1 vs. 100 mode. That’s a timed fight against 100 Helix-style enemies. I could not get through all 100, but it was fun to try! I made it to 54 I think before I ran out of life. It’s essentially survival mode but with multiple on-screen fighters against you.
Finally, I fought my way through Level 2 of the arcade-style mode. There are Eight difficulty levels and you run the gauntlet of all the game’s fighters until you meet a final boss fighter that I just read will be the first DLC fighter they release. On Level 2, it was a bit tougher than Level 1, but I think I only lost twice on the way to the boss. One of those was Target mode where I was just plain bad. I did try Level 4, which you have to beat to open up Ranked play, and got wrecked by Master Mummy on the first match. I need to get better before I can beat that, obviously. Note that online Party Mode has a lot more variety than ranked so unless you’re really into the competitive scene, you probably won’t care that ranked requires unlocking.
So the question to answer… does ARMS have LEGS? Well, yes it does if you play as Min Min. She has this cool kick she does when you dodge in mid-air. :)
Seriously though… I think this is one of the most unique “fighting” games I’ve played, and I’ve played almost all of them. It has all the trappings of a real fighting game under the hood with the aforementioned triangle of punch, block, grab, but it offers that up in a completely unique setting and gameplay style. It feels like boxing with quick dodging of punches, counter punching, danger of whiffed grabs, and even throws in a “Super” for you to unleash on your opponent as well. There are a variety of really awesome rings to fight in. Last night I noticed that Ribbon Girl’s stage, which has these platforms that rise from the floor, contains powerups IN the floor! You punch that block and out it comes. I got beat in one match because I saw a health canister in the floor and got too focused on setting it off and took a fist to the face because from a leaping/dodging opponent that ended my match. I love the way movement is so integral to the fighting. It’s way beyond the footsies of Street Fighter and into something else entirely. I’d honestly like to see a real boxer who has an interest in videogames play ARMS to see how they would approach the game. Sure, the arms themselves extend to longer ranges, but the fundamentals of boxing are there.
If I have any complaint, it’s that I want even more. It’s a really solid package with a lot of fun stuff to do, but I love the world of ARMS so much (and especially the music!) that I kind of want an even larger backstory to be fleshed out for all these characters and this crazy world they’ve created. Nintendo has said there’s a lot more to come on that side of things and there will be (free?) DLC fighters added to the game. I’m looking forward to that.
One of the best things, and this is something I think I can say of all the Switch games I’ve purchased so far, is that the coding is rock solid. Zelda had a little bit of framerate drop in it and that got corrected in a patch, but beyond that, I just feel like these games are such complete entities. I don’t ever get glitching or weird behavior and I love how solid everything feels. You can tell it’s been tested heavily. I think the core gameplay is so solid and engaging here that I will be playing ARMS for a long time. It reminds me of Splatoon in that way. It’s so fresh and exciting that I can’t wait to play it more and to improve my skill and work my way into Ranked play. You might not want to go that far, but I think with yourself and friends (you can play with one Switch and a single joy-con for each player at home or on the go) as well as Party Mode online, if you dig the idea of punching people out, you’ll play a lot of ARMS.