ARMS Review: Motion Brawl

armspl2Real Talk By: KJ
Published By: Nintendo

A Premiere Trailer was shown at the Nintendo Switch System Reveal.  My first impressions weren’t exactly positive.  I thought “Here we go again”, another title ignoring the hardcore fan-base.  Goofy motion game number 1,000.  As the months would pass, the curtain would open slowly revealing more than expected.  Way more!  Arms to me is a fusion of two unique games.  It’s as if Virtual-On and Punch-Out!! merged to give us this unique fighter.

It’s great to see a game taking advantage of the system, producing some XO/PS4 level visuals.  This team in-particular developed Mario Kart 8, which was definitely one of Wii U’s best-looking offerings.  Characters have interesting designs, equipped with detailed clothing and accessories.  Just an overall clean aesthetic.


Arms isn’t necessarily about learning deep combos.  Equipping the right gloves for your character, understanding what each can do is key.  Have the right load-out for the right opponent.  Getting your timing down is pivotal.  This is very much a reaction-based affair.  Know when to put the commands into action.

How Nintendo’s IP has been marketed, it’s obvious they want players using motion controls.  How do they fare? Aside from Red Steel 2, This is easily the most responsive game I’ve played.  Jabs, Hooks, Jumps, Dashes, and other commands are recognized for the most part with ease.  It’s all felt with HD Rumble Support.  Throwing strikes feels different depending on what’s equipped at the time.  It really adds to this game.  Motion is a fun alternative, and you’ll get a nice workout in the process.  For those who need regular controller options, it’s Pro enabled.  The Joycon grip layout is another option, along with handheld mode.  Attacking is naturally going to be faster when mashing the face buttons.  It’s odd, there’s no option to map controls regardless of play-choice.  It’s 2017 Nintendo! Pressing down the left stick to block feels weird, and the attack button placement, personally I would change.  However, there’s no option to do so.  Most of my time with Arms has been with a standard controller.  It’s simply a more efficient way, especially when battling in Ranked Match-ups.


Ten New Characters hit the scene.  Spring Man “The Bouncer”, is your marquee player.  His default arms are standard looking punching gloves but when charged, allow for heat effects.  When Spring is on his last legs, his Fists are automatically charged, Causing more damage with each strike.  Every character has exploitable strengths and weaknesses.  Master Mummy is the slowest, but his attack power is high.  When holding down the block button, Mummy can heal-up.  It’s a slow process, but can be used as a tactical advantage.  When the opponent sees mummy from a distance healing, it’s a natural reaction to put a stop to it.  So Mummy can bait enemies to approach, then go right back on offense.  The lengths (pun-intended) Nintendo went to come-up with Stretchy armed characters is insane.  Martial Arts Master Min-Min is awesome.  Her arms are made of ramen, she can kick people at close range.  Movie Star Twintelle can not only hover using her hair, she fights with it also.  A great character who can really confuse players.


The originally trickles down further.  You’ll play in some well thought-out levels.  Areas may provide extra power-up drops, places to take cover, or layouts giving players high-ground advantages.  All-of-which bear the main theme song from ARMS, remixed to match the selected stage.  The catchy “Whoa-oh-oh-oh!” plays in the main menu.  Great memorable music, and sound effects.  There really isn’t a lot of talking in arms.  During Grand Prix (Arcade Mode) Announcer Biff gives you a bit of story in-between matches, displayed in text.  Biff was quite vocal in the Nintendo direct videos, none of that transferred over.

Like many other game types, Grand Prix can be played on 7 difficulty levels.  Can you make it to Boss Character Max Brass? A Pro Wrestling based fighter, equipped with arms made from Championship Belts.  GP Progress saves, so get in a few games, come back later.  Grand Prix can even be played in split-screen.  Team-up with a friend through the whole mode.  In-fact there’s plenty of options for multiplayer.


Mini Games mix up gameplay a bit.  Something that has been sadly neglected from many modern fighting games.  The following can be played online: V-Ball, Hoops, and Skillshot. Volleyball can either be played 1v1 or 2v2. Setting up a power shot requires hitting both attack buttons together.  Sometimes it turns into a contest of button mashing, rather than angling and timing.  After the ball is in play for a while it turns into a bomb, making this first to 5 points game quite hectic.  Hoops is a 1v1 where the player has to land a super combo sending the enemy in the hoop, or grab close enough to slam dunk the opponent.  My favorite is Skillshot.  Random targets pop-up in the middle of the stage, you then have to smash as many possible before time runs out.  Combining target hits earns more points.  While this is happening the enemy attempts to do the same.  Try getting everything, while dodging attacks from the other side.  Great to see these modes piped into Grand Prix.  For those who really dig them, they can be played separately as well.


Another single player offering is “1v100”.  Take on standard grunts as the difficulty slowly increases.  Go for the fastest completion time.  Like the hundred Man Battle, “Arms Test” is an endurance challenge.  Each round the available weapons randomly change, along with the mode.  This is a good way to get used to different fists, but tough when an arm clearly isn’t made for your fighter.  Participating in every mode gives coins.  Mode “Get Arms” features moving weapon crates.  The time to grab arms depends on the coinage paid.  There’s no way to buy the specific arm you want.  Some may not appreciate this grinding process.  My complaint is that brand-new arms don’t unlock.  It’s pre-existing weapons, made available for a different fighter.  Apparently fresh ones are on the way via DLC.  Thankfully any extra content is going to be free.  This sweetens the deal, considering a typical modern fighter is a Microtransaction/Season Pass Abyss.


Party Play is a unique lobby mode for Network Play.  Gamers share a room, and are thrown into various matches.  For example: you may have lost to someone in V-Ball, now you’re sitting in the lobby.  Warming-up briefly, smashing targets till it’s time to go.  The game could then throw you into a rematch with that same person but in a different game-type. A good chance you’ll end up on the same team in a 2 on 2 match-up against other players.  This is certainly a random way to play arms but it promotes fun due to the variety.  Highlight group brawls include 2v2. Two people are tethered together on either side making teamwork very important.  Avoid damaging items and grab spams while looking out for your buddy at all times.  It’s important because A 2v1 scenario is insanely hard to come back from.  Free for all lets four players duke it simultaneously.  This requires a lot of jumping, dodging, and rotating between targets.

Ranked Play is the only online mode allowing two round fights.  Definitely a more intense way of doing things.  Thankfully I haven’t experienced much lag at all.  Online play has really been a smooth experience.

This title is pretty balanced.  Items dropping from the air either can give player life, juice for a faster special, or explosive results.  Fire and Shock bombs take a while to go off, and their blast radius isn’t bad.  An alert player can easily avoid them, but if ignored can change the tide of a fight.  The one technique people exploit frequently is grabbing.  Like many other fighters, this maneuver takes a solid chunk of life.  It’s easier to land when one has the high ground advantage.  Many will take Ninjara and utilize his disappearing jump, then reappear with a grab.  I’ve played some who exclusively use this move and nothing else.  Lining up a punch at the same time can prevent grabs, also dashing away works, but this is something to look out for.  Be careful friends.


Yes Arms certainly has a lot of modes, but some lack the depth needed for single player.  The mini games are fun add-on’s, but shouldn’t be the factor in a purchase.  The bulk of arms comes from multiplayer.  To introduce such zany characters, and really not flesh them out, Nintendo is missing out on an opportunity to tell a fun story.  Some type of quest mode to really justify the full asking price.

Arms is a game like no other.  Choosing the right arms, taking advantage of levels, and getting down your timing.  This is one to get with the intent of playing with others.  A crazy brawler that succeeds in many ways.  An Absolute blast with friends, but the single player needs beefier content. We’ve grown to expect more in that area from Not only Nintendo, but other $59.99 fighting games of this gen.  Still, this experiment can be considered a success. We have a polished game that is easy to pick up, tough to master.  I can see this being a factor in tournament play.  Whoops, this is indeed a game for hardcore fans. In a genre with many copy and paste ideas, it’s refreshing to play a Fighter that feels so different.

Arms Gets


4 out of 5

What’s Legit?

+Truly Unique Gameplay

+Plenty of Multiplayer Options Online or Off

+Memorable Soundtrack

+All Post Content is Free

What’s Perpetrating?

-Can’t Customize Controls at all

-No Option To Save Replays

-Hollow Single Player offerings



2 thoughts on “ARMS Review: Motion Brawl

  1. Nice overview! I was unaware this had any other modes besides the typical Vs. fighting, and ladders. Sounds like it basically amps up what we all loved about Wii Sports Boxing, and gives us even more.

    Liked by 1 person

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