What is Arms?
A 1 v 1 (or 2 v 2) beat 'em up, Arms is a game that pits elaborately quiffed, brightly coloured characters in a close quarters contest of haymakers, uppercuts and knock out blows, as they hurl lefts and rights at each other with overly elasticated arms. Perhaps best described as what would happen is Wii Sports boxing, Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots, and Stretch Armstrong had a baby, Arms is a silly, over the top brawler for up to four players.
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How do you play Arms?
Essentially a game of boxing, only with over the top cartoon characters, you'll need to make use of both timing, and accuracy if you want to win. With a Joy-Con in each hand, you'll box as you would in real life, pushing your hand forward to throw a punch, before tilting the controller to help guide your punch to its target (OK, so maybe not quite that much like real life). Tilting both controllers in the same direction lets you strafe left and right, while tilting them together lets you block, deflecting any incoming punches.
The main mode in Arms is called Grand Prix, and sees you facing off against a stream of ten characters, eight of which will be straight 1 on 1 fights, and two which are special contests, whether it be Volleyball (with a bomb), Basketball (trying to score baskets with the other player), or Skillshot (a target contest that'll test how you curl your punches). Really, though, with not too much in the way of a single player mode, Arms is a game designed to be enjoyed in multiplayer, whether locally with up to four players, or online (even the main Grand Prix mode lets you play through with a second player in co-op). With a range of control schemes on offer, from the default two Joy-Con motion controls, to button based single Joy-Con mode, letting you play in multiplayer even if you haven't bought any extra controllers, there's plenty of ways to get involved with Arms, and extensive online multiplayer support to boot.
How easy is Arms to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, Arms has more of a learning curve than you might imagine, given the simplicity of the general controls. While punching using motion controls (or buttons) is easy enough, curving your shots (which is often necessary if you want to hit your opponent) takes a lot more practice, while other buttons add to the things you'll need to think about mid fight - like jumps, throws, and "Rush" mode - a devastating barrage of an attack, which you can only use once you've managed to fill the meter.
In terms of the game itself, Arms has a whopping seven difficulty levels to choose from - although again, the game very rapidly gets harder if you move up even a single level or two. While on difficulty level 1, you'll likely manage to breeze through most contests, level 2 sees computer players suddenly start to put up a real fight - and often beat you - while level 7 is designed for only the most experienced of players. Unusually, the game also seem much harder when playing in co-op, where even on level 1, computer players will often manage to beat you - especially in the challenge modes, like volleyball. However, with Arms being intended to be used mostly for multiplayer play (either locally or online), the game's real difficulty will depend on who you're playing against.
With nothing in the way of blood, guts and gore, sex, or bad language, Arms is free of mature content. While you will be punching (and throwing) other characters around, there's nothing in the way of realistic impacts - in fact, most blows are met with large flashes of colour in a distinctly cartoon style.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Switch