The ARMS universe (アームズ, ARMS) refers to the Super Smash Bros. collection of characters, stages, and properties that hail from the 3D fighting game developed by Nintendo EPD. Set in a world where some individuals mysteriously gain extendable limbs, the game revolves around the titular combat sport in which fighters who have this ability compete using glove-like weapons, known as ARMS. Similar to Splatoon when it first launched on the Wii U, this franchise was conceived as a new intellectual property to take full advantage of the Nintendo Switch's hardware and functionality, being cited as a game with depth, challenge, and replayability according to producer Kosuke Yabuki.
ARMS was first conceptualized when Mario Kart 8 director Kosuke Yabuki expressed interest in creating a fighting game with the camera behind the player, instead of the standard side-on view. To avoid issues with depth perception, the developers had the characters' fists extend out towards the opponent, inspired by the obstacle-dodging gameplay of Mario Kart. A prototype was developed, and the developers found performing punching gestures with the Joy-Con controllers to feel natural.
The team experimented with several ideas for character designs, as well as considered using established Nintendo characters such as Mario, Link, and even Little Mac. They soon decided on having all the game's characters be original to fit with the gameplay. When designing a character, the ARMS were considered first, thus informing the overall design and personality of the character; for example, springs led to the conception of Spring Man, ribbon strands lead to Ribbon Girl, ramen noodles lead to Min Min, and DNA strands lead to Helix. The fights were framed as a combat sport, with the fighters participating in the ARMS Grand Prix, and various fictitious business logos and designs were added to characters and stages to help sell this idea.
ARMS was officially announced for the Nintendo Switch on January 12th, 2017 during the Nintendo Switch Presentation. Prior to launch, information about the game was detailed via a spotlight in the Nintendo Direct in April 2017, a dedicated ARMS Direct in May 2017, and a series of public hour-long multiplayer beta events called the "ARMS Global Testpunch" running from May to June 2017. The game released worldwide on June 16th, 2017 to positive reviews and strong sales, with many drawing comparisons to the Punch-Out!! series and the boxing minigame from Wii Sports. Outlets praised the game's unique, deep gameplay and customization, but criticized its lack of content at launch. Following Splatoon's post-launch model, new characters, stages, and modes were made available via free content updates throughout 2017, improving the game's reception over time. In October 2017, an official graphic novel was announced, designed to delve deeper into the game's lore. As of 2020, it remains in development with no current projected release date.
With the announcement of an ARMS fighter joining Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on March 26th, 2020, the game has seen a revival of in-game Party Crash events and a two-week free trial of the full game exclusively for Nintendo Switch Online members. Prior to Ultimate's launch, Masahiro Sakurai considered adding characters from recent Nintendo titles such as ARMS and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in the base roster, but he was unable to do so because of poor timing; they were announced long after planning and production of Ultimate began. When it came time to develop a second wave of downloadable content for the game, Sakurai considered Min Min and Ninjara as possible candidates and, following a request from Yabuki, the position went to Min Min.
While some of the content from this title was included at launch, including an Assist Trophy, two Mii Fighter costumes, and five Spirits, even more content was released as part of Challenger Pack 6.
Mii Fighter Costumes
Main article: List of SSBU Music (ARMS series)
Arrangements and remixes unique to Ultimate. Both of these tracks were arranged by Atsuko Asahi, who originally co-composed the music for ARMS.
Tracks taken directly from ARMS.
Main article: List of spirits (ARMS series)
The following characters are Spirits. Five were available at launch, but seven more were added as part of Challenger Pack 6.