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Why Arms Is the Most Pulse-Pounding Nintendo Game of the Year

You’ve probably heard a lot about Arms over the past few weeks, but the game is finally here. And it’s great. Here’s why.

Arms Is a Fighting Game, But Much More, Too

Nintendo’s Switch is a surprise hit — and that’s not due to its portability. It’s also because of the games. Arms is simply terrific. It can be played solo, but its greatness lies in competition with your friends. It about strategy, and quick strategy at that. And the robotic characters with slinky, reticulated arms each seem to have their own unique personalities, as you’ll see below.

Screams of Sheer Delight

I knew I loved Arms. But I was playing solo. So I took my Switch and Arms to a Bronx high school where I mentor about writing and videogames. There, we pitted students against teachers. Yes, there was some boastful play. And yes, the kids beat the teachers. But the screams and shouts of joy were what made Arms a great bonding experience. Arms is the kind of game that can break down barriers and bring people closer together. The kids even came up with their own slogans for characters.

The Sweet Gameplay

You might win by mashing buttons once or twice. But you won’t win very much. Arms wants you to watch your opponent carefully and react by sending those long, loopy punches when you find an opening. Or, you can block or counter. Even though you have to act quickly, you have to study your opponent’s style and look for patterns you can take advantage of. Do that and you’ll reign victorious.

The Strange, Wonderful Characters

They each have their own personalities and powerful features. Ribbon Girl seems to be able to hang in the air like a ballet dancer and battle from on high. Ninjara is illusive with his smokescreen but also strong because of the chains he so easily wields. Master Mummy is a huge lunker and moves slow as a tank. But when he blocks, his health is restored! What a superb variety.

The Customization

Beyond the cornucopia of characters, there’s a variety of customization options. Each Arms character is an elemental. They can equip weapons based on fire, ice, electricity, wind and other powers. Ribbon Girl can be armed with a massive triple punch and Min-Min has a slow punch called Megawatt that packs a wallop. That’s just the beginning, though.

A Potential, Fast-Paced eSport

When the Switch was first introduced, it was Splatoon that was touted to be a possible eSport. But with the debut of Arms, there’s no doubt this fighting game could be as compelling as Splatoon in competition. For me, it’s more fun because of the speed of play. Overall, there hasn’t been a better Nintendo game this year to share with friends and family … and maybe even teachers.

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