ARMS Review

We take a deep dive with Nintendo's latest challenger in the fighting game genre.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Reviewed On: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: June 16, 2017

ARMS is one of Nintendo’s latest IP’s that comes in the form of a new and exciting fighting game. Although fighting games aren’t particularly exciting on their own, the game truly shines with the multitude of customization options and cute cast of fighters. Nintendo has designed some of its most unique and quirky characters that are easy to love and differentiate from one another. Throughout my time with ARMS, I could not help but admire the character design, gameplay and personalities that each fighter displayed, despite the game lacking a dedicated story mode.

Controlling the fighters in ARMS using the motion controlled Joy-Con configuration was one of my biggest concerns before trying it out for myself. I am not a huge fan of gimmicky controls and Nintendo is no stranger to adding gimmicky controls to their games. I was glad and relieved when I heard that Nintendo was also offering a way to play with absolutely no motion controls. However, after playing a few matches with the motion controls, it was clear that Nintendo took its time to perfect the motion controls in ARMS before publishing the title.

I’ll be honest, it took a few matches to get used to the motion controls in ARMS, but once I got them down it was a great experience that exceeded my expectations. Controlling the fighters using the traditional controls was also spot on and became my preferred way to play. Not because the motion controls were shoddy, but more so because it was something that felt familiar. Although due to the way the fighters move and swing, this took a little bit of time to get used to as well.

The game modes in ARMS are standard for a fighting game. You have your training mode, which allows you to test out new fighters and arm combinations. I spent quite a bit of time in the training mode trying to figure out the perfect combination of arms and fighter that fit my style. This is also a great place for beginners to start out who don’t want to feel overwhelmed by the games main modes. One of the side modes in ARMS, “Arm Getter”, allows you play a mini game that rewards players with different arms.

In order to play the mini game you have to spend coins, the in game currency you get for playing matches. During the mini game, it allows you to select a fighter and arm combination and pits you against a timer as you try to hit multiple moving targets. Some of these targets are time bonuses, which add additional time to the timer, while other targets may be fighter specific arm rewards. There are many arms to collect in the game and each arm can be collected a second time, which upgrades the original and deal extra damage.

One of the main modes in ARMS is Gran Prix. This is the games base mode that allows you to fight your way to the top, competing in fights or other mini game inspired matches. One of the mini games I liked a lot was the volleyball variant. This refreshing mode puts you 1v1 against an opponent as you both try to score more points than the other. Points are scored by causing your opponent to miss the ball and allowing it to touch the floor. You must win 10 matches in Grand Prix in order to successfully complete the tier difficulty. Once you clear tier 1 difficulty, you unlock the games Ranked mode.

Ranked mode is where I have been spending the majority of my time in ARMS. It’s a nice change of pace and is perfect for anyone who likes a decent competitive challenge. Finding online ranked matches has been quick and I have never waited more than a minute or so to find a worthy opponent. Like any other ranked mode, the opponents you defeat or lose to will play a role in your overall rank. This score is used to decide the next opponents you will face, which makes it so that there is always a challenge for you.

Another great mode in ARMS is the Online Party Match. This mode allows up to 20 players to join a lobby and face different opponents in a variety of different game modes. You can join this mode solo or you can grab a friend and queue up together on the same console. Participating in these matches awards you with tokens, which can be spent in “ARM Getter” to acquire new arms.

My main complaint with ARMS is the lack of a dedicated story mode. Nintendo has created these unique fighters and these amazing environments, but at the end of the day I just cant invested in the fighters. This could have been solved with at least some sort of backstory or history of each fighter. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a dedicated story mode in ARMS 2, given the success of ARMS. Maybe I’m reaching here, but Nintendo could also implement a story mode in an upcoming DLC update, though that seems like something they would save for a sequel.

Overall, ARMS is a great fighting game and a welcomed addition to the genre. The multitude of unlockable arms will have players coming back for more as they try to unlock new equipment to do their bidding. With the recent free updates that Nintendo has been pushing out which have included new arms, fighters and stages, this keeps ARMS feeling refreshing and fun, despite lacking a dedicated story mode.

The Breakdown



8.5Nintendo has crafted an excellent fighter with its new IP. Multiplayer matches are exciting and strategic, but the game suffers a bit without a dedicated story mode.

Marc Villa
Marc Villa
I have been writing about video games and tech for the last 8 years. Throughout my time I have written for some major and minor publications. I enjoy all things Nintendo, horror and hip-hop. Add me on Switch (ShockyP)