Review: ARMS – Nintendo Switch (9/10)

Platform: Nintendo SwitchGenre: Action, FightingDeveloper: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo Nintendo
Release Date: June 16, 2017 June 16, 2017
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Review by 2 Old 4 Gaming

I remember first seeing ARMS during the Switch reveal event in January and was thinking this looks kinda silly. It looked like a motion controlled game for kids and made me question why Nintendo would feature this at the Switch event.  I had the chance to go hands on with ARMS in January before the Switch’s release and after one match my mind was totally changed.

I played against a random guy at the event and it was just fun. More than any other game I played that day, it left me with a smile on my face. Playing the full game now it is just as fun playing against someone next to you but online matches can be hit or miss.


The concept for ARMS is simple. You control a fighter with springy arms and a variety of boxing gloves and battle other fighters in an arena. You choose between 10 fighters that vary in terms of strength, speed, boxing glove types and special abilities. The fighters felt very different to play. I enjoyed trying them all but I quickly settled on Kid Cobra as my favourite.

The game is surprisingly deep. You can’t just punch continuously. When you throw a punch you need to wait for the fist to return before you can throw the next punch on that hand. You also use jumps and dodges to avoid your opponents attacks before you launch an attack of your own.

You can play ARMS with motion controls using Joy-Cons or you can play it with buttons using the Joy-Cons or the Pro Controller. I started off playing with motion controls and it was fun but it felt imprecise. You walk backwards by tilting the Joy-Cons back, or side-ways by tilting them in the direction you want to move. However there were times when the movement didn’t properly register. When I switched to button controls I was shocked at how well the game controlled and how much ARMS suddenly felt like a serious fighting game.

If you’re a solo player then you can play through an arcade mode, called Grand Prix, of 10 battles or you can try out the various battle modes. There is a basketball type mode and volleyball where you need to hit a bomb to your opponents side but I didn’t really think these were that fun. There is a mode to fight 100 computer controlled opponents continuously which I enjoyed. This was a fun challenge and I came back to it a few times. Then of course you have the actual battles. The single player content is good but it feels like a warm up to the true game, that is going up against real people.

When you go online, you join a room with 8 other players and you play matches with rotating opponents and changing game modes. The matchmaking doesn’t seem to be very effective at matching players of similar experience. I entered matches with people that were significantly better than me and those that are significantly worse.

Using motion controls was a major disadvantage when playing online especially in matches with 3 or 4 players where the action is so fast and small mistakes can result in a quick loss. Playing online with a pro controller made ARMS feel like a real fighter and I had some excellent matches. Jumping into a fight with a player of similar skill level and having a drawn out match where you’re both dodging and darting around the screen felt very satisfying.

Playing with friends in your living room is where the game really shines. Motion controls may not be precise but it evens the playing field a bit when you play against friends that don’t have Switches. I took my Switch to my friends house and we had a lot of fun with it.

Nintendo is so good at making games that appeal to all ages and all types of gamers from hard core gamers to people that have never held a controller and ARMS is just another example of this. Although there is a lot of depth to the fighting system when you really dig into it, it’s still easy for someone to pick up and get to grips with in seconds.

I had my 6 year old and 4 year old play with me and they absolutely loved it. My 4 year old didn’t really get the concept of waiting for the glove to return but he still had a good time just flailing his arms! My 6 year old became pretty good at ARMS and gave me some decent matches.


The game looks gorgeous. The characters are bright and colourful with interesting and varied designs. Each character had their own stage which was made to suit the look and style of the characters. You can play in handheld mode but ARMS feels more at home on a big TV screen. Showing the game to my friends and children, they were instantly wowed by the look of the game.

Music & Sound

The music too suited the game and was so catchy. I found myself humming the main theme long after I turned off the game. The sounds of punching an opponent was very satisfying, especially landing that final, winning blow.


ARMS is a game with three very distinct elements and although it’s the same game, the experiences you have with each is so different:

  • The single player is enjoyable, but it feels like training for the main game, which is playing against people.
  • The local versus with friends is the most fun, especially playing with motion controls.
  • The online is where the game shows that it’s a serious fighter like street fighter or tekken.

The best word to describe ARMS is “fun.” It takes the core mechanics of traditional fighting games and makes it more accessible in the same way that Mario Kart is an accessible racing game. Whether you’re looking for a fun party game or you’re looking for your next online fighting game obsession, ARMS delivers.

Review ARMS Nintendo Switch:


The review was written and provided by 2 Old 4 Gaming. All screenshots are from the Nintendo Switch version.

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