Arms Hands-On Impressions: Armed, But Friendly

Arms Hands-On Impressions: Armed, But Friendly

Arms connects with people who play it, but it'd work best as a pack-in game for the Nintendo Switch.

When Nintendo unveiled 1-2-Switch and Arms at its Switch presentation on January 13, viewers watched uncomfortably while they reflexively tightened imaginary wrist straps. We still remember the Wii's deluge of "waggle" games, after all. When a torrent of crap sloshes around your ankles, you don't soon forget the experience.

So I was nicely surprised at how much fun Nintendo's Arms offered me (that's the game Arms; I did not actually receive a big wrap-around hug from a Nintendo representative, though I would never turn one down). It's a hyper-colorful boxing game in same vein as Punch-Out!!, and unlike most of the waggle games that disgraced the Wii, you can't simply flail everywhere and hope to win. You need to watch your opponent's moves, then act and react accordingly.

I played as Spring-Man, who's come a long way since his stint as one of Dr Wily's lower-tier Robot Masters. You hold the two halves of the Joy-Con in your fists, trigger-side up. Your character punches when you do: They throw a right punch when you jab right, and a left punch when you jab left. You can even punch inwards to make your character curve their blow.

If you lash out with both fists, you try to grab your opponent with both arms. If your attempt lands, you do extra damage to your foe.

But hitting your rival isn't easy. They can dodge, jump, and block – and so can you. Punches can even be executed from the air, which lets you rain down the hurt from above.

Even if you manage to layeth the smack down once, the AI-controlled opponents become smarter in the second round. You start off closer to one another, making it harder for you to perform a nimble maneuver early in the match. Old tricks that carry you through the first round aren't as effective the second time around.

Arms is a lot of fun to play, plus its colorful and boasts new IP – something Nintendo is always in need of. Its main problem is that it didn't appear to offer a lot of depth, even if Nintendo promised otherwise at its Switch presentation on January 12. There could be more to Arms than slugging it out with foes and occasionally destroying property, but the game is holding all that content close to its chest (if that extra content exists at all). It's a shame Arms isn't a pack-in game, because it'd shine as a showcase demo for the Switch's Joy-Cons.

Editor's pick

Everything You Need to Know About Nintendo Switch: The Price, the Launch Date, the Games, and All the Analysis

Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

Read this next

Kunai Is The Best Feeling Platformer I've Played Since Dead Cells

This tiny robot samurai wins with precise platforming action.

What's Your Favorite Console Revision?

COMMUNITY QUESTION | The Switch Lite is out today, so let's look back on the history of console revisions.

FIFA 20 Review: This Year's Version Takes to the Streets, But It's Strongest on the Pitch

A brand new mode and some much-improved gameplay highlight an ambitious update for FIFA.

Spiritfarer's Art Director on Encouraging Relaxation, Exploration, and Just Chilling on a Boat

How Spirited Away led to a cozy management sim about the afterlife.

Borderlands 3's First Limited-Time Event Will Be a Free Halloween Ghoul Hunt

All Borderlands 3 players will have a few weeks to scoop up some creepy loot and take down a boney boss.

Apple Arcade Brings Game Pricing Concerns Back to the Forefront

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Will successful subscription services turn into their own walled gardens?

More Analyses

A Fresh Look at New Super Mario Bros. U on Switch: Does it Measure Up to the Classics?

Where does New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe rank alongside Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World?

The State of Destiny 2 After Forsaken: A Game That Can't Shake Its Troubles

Forsaken was a solid start, but it wasn't enough to pull everyone back.

Sorry Pokemon Fans, Your Gold-Plated Cards from Burger King Aren't Worth Squat

Burger King's Pokemon cards from 1999 look kind of nice and they're fun to remember, but they're barely worth the cost of a milkshake.