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ARMS review: Switching up your fighter games

Arms Switch Hero
(Image: © Nintendo)

Our Verdict

Bottom line: ARMS takes the basics of all fighting games and gives them an added twist to make it a little more challenging. If you have the Switch Lite or are used to playing with a Pro Controller you may not have as good of an experience.


  • Motion controls
  • Sport alternatives
  • Cute commentary


  • Switch Lite and Pro Controller hinderance
  • Arm gripes

If I'm being honest, I was initially skeptical about whether or not I would enjoy ARMS on my Nintendo Switch. It looked cute, but I thought it would walk the line of too cute and come off as cheesy. After playing, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only does ARMS offer enough of a challenge to make it interesting, but it offers its own mechanics that bring a uniqueness to the game as well.

Game Size3.2 GB
FormatDownload & Game Card
Launch Price$60 (opens in new tab)

ARMS review: What I like

Arms Hoops Switch

Arms Hoops Switch (Image credit: Nintendo)

Motion controls

What stands out the most to me when playing ARMS is the way Nintendo integrated the motion sensors in the Joy-Cons. When in battle, players use their arms and hands to control their fighter's movement and actions. I thought this would be difficult to get used to and would be over-sensitive, but it really does feel like you are moving your character and gets you into the game with such an immersive experience. After a few of the training rounds, you'll get a feel for it, and the motions become a great strategy to your fighting tactic.

Sport alternatives

In addition to the basic one-on-one battle you have in every fighting game, where you keep throwing punches until the battle's won, there are several other battle modes that don't involve just beating each other up. These modes include: V-Ball, Hoops, Skillshot, and Hedlok Scramble. A few of these are also included in the Grand Prix game mode, which also helps to add variety to the game. The V-Ball was my favorite way to do a battle and continue to work on my skills of moving the character and aiming my shots. To have something outside of the normal "drive the other player into the ground" style was a great break that kept me playing longer.

Cute commentary

In the Grand Prix before each battle, there is a little character that shows up at the bottom of the screen and narrates the battle that's about to happen. He offers a very cute commentary that isn't just generic phrases as the battle is about to begin. It's customized to the fighters opposing each other and addresses them not just individually but how they stack up as opponents together.

ARMS review: What I don't like

Arms Minigame Swtch

Arms Minigame Swtch (Image credit: Nintendo)

Switch Lite and Pro Controller hinderance

The grip on the Joy-Cons is unique to this game. It's called the thumb-grip, where you wrap your fingers around the inside, facing the inside toward the TV and placing your thumbs on the R and L buttons. With it being designed for play this way, playing on the Switch Lite or with other controllers like the Pro Controller makes the game more difficult, unless you have extra Joy-Cons paired to your Switch Lite.

Arm gripes

After you choose a character and start a battle, you choose your arms, hence the name. There are different sets of arms that come with each character to begin with. As you play more, there are ways to get even more arms to use. Unfortunately, they don't really explain what the different arms do in the selection screen. You can see the descriptions in the arms set screen from the main menu, but I think it would be more useful to see this as you're deciding what to use.

Through a target practice minigame, you can earn new arms for your fighters. Unlike other fighting games, you don't earn arms through the story mode — just the tokens to play the minigame. When you finish the target practice and collect your prizes, you don't unlock the arms for all the characters, only some of them. This comes off a bit like a grind, which I didn't expect in a fighting game.

ARMS review: Should you buy

Arms Win Screen Switch

Arms Win Screen Switch (Image credit: Nintendo)

I would consider these dislikes to be very minor impacts on the amount of fun you can have playing the game. I do think Joy-Cons are essential to truly experiencing the game the right way and that some minor arms tweaks would make a big difference. However, overall this is still something I really enjoyed.

The unique way Nintendo incorporated the motion capabilities of the Joy-Cons and added sport battle options make this fighter one definitely worth picking up. The cuteness of the commentary and characters is just an added bonus. ARMS is a game that really surprised me and is one I plan on continuing to play.

Alex Huebner

Alex has been working with iMore as a Freelance Gaming Writer for three years. You can also find a few articles of hers on Android Central and Windows Central. She regularly covers Nintendo Switch games and accessories as well as iOS game apps. In addition to the Nintendo Switch, you may also find her playing on the PlayStation and PC. When she doesn’t have a controller in hand she likes to spend her time with her husband, son, and dogs, exploring new places, or hiding away with a book (or comic book). A few of her favorite games include the Zelda franchise, Little Nightmares, and Animal Crossing.