As much as I wish there was a bit more liveliness to the characters of Arms—be it with more prominent in-game lore, quips, or whatever else—their designs and origins are still delightful enough to leave a lasting impression. Even as I walked away from the game impressed by its core but disappointed with most things surrounding it, the characters were what stuck out in my mind.
Every great fighter has great characters. Not just in terms of depth and singular abilities, but in design too. Arms manages to do the design aspect quite well. Every character looks wacky, odd, with their own mysterious histories as to how they got this way. Somehow, despite their vast differences, they all manage to look plucked straight out of Nintendo's carefully crafted universe. Like the zany heroes of Overwatch somehow feel right at home despite their wide-ranging character designs, as do the long-armed fighters in the rings of Arms.
As I once did for Persona 5, it's time for another Definitive Power Rankings list. The fighters that are not the strongest in a metagame way, but the ones that are the most intriguing. The ones that stick out in your mind the most. The dumbest ones, the cutest ones, the coolest ones. The fighters that make Arms memorable. This list is definitive, inarguable, the law of USgamerLand. (Except it's not.)
10. Master Mummy
I usually gravitate towards tanks and heavier characters in games, which is what makes Master Mummy so profoundly disappointing. He's a giant mummy, with the ability to heal himself as he guards. He's slow, non-agile, but is essentially a punch-sponge. Listed among his hobbies is "searching for his long-lost family," which makes me feel kinda bad for dissing him. But it doesn't change the fact that of all Arms' many characters, Master Mummy is the one I'll choose the least.
Ninjara seems to be a fan favorite, or at least from what I've seen during my time in Arms' ranked mode. Ninjara is quick, agile, essentially the nega-Master Mummy. He disappears as he dashes. But Ninjara feels so familiar. He feels and plays similar to Genji from Overwatch, except with his face more visible (of course in alternative skins for the cyborg hero, we see his face). Ninjara may be categorically enjoyable and useful to play as, but his chain-armed embrace is cold and bland.
8. Spring Man
When you first think of Arms, Spring Man and Ribbon Girl are probably the first characters to pop into your mind. After all, they were the first fighters introduced; they're displayed prominently on most of the game's marketing material. Even so, Spring Man's overly peppy, almost to an obnoxious length. He hoots and hollers, he leaps around with a flashy grin on his face. He'll propel tornados your way if you're not careful. Spring Man is Arms in body and spirit: confident, cocky, with room to improve.
7. Kid Cobra
My dude here defies the laws of evolution. He's a snake with arms and legs.
6. Min Min
Min Min is a powerful foe, and easy to underestimate. She's light on her feet—complete with the ability to kick away punches—and her arm has the ability to transform into an enormous dragon. She's a cute character too, with her arms being literal ramen noodles. She arguably has the best color swap alternatives, in terms of her character's different colors. Min Min is cool, quirky, emblematic of the colorful variety Arms has to offer in its roster.
5. Byte & Barq
If Byte & Barq weren't competing for the championship belt in the Arms Grand Prix, they might have their very own buddy cop show. Byte would be the good cop, while Barq would be the bad cop. Byte would be Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys, while Barq would be Will Smith. Byte would be—okay I'll stop. You get it. Byte & Barq are a robo-cop duo; Byte's a normal robot, Barq's a robo-dog. Together, they fight competitors, with Barq acting as your automatic fist-throwing buddy. In a way, it's like you have three arms. (Just one you can't control.) They're an adorable, tough duo in the realm of Arms, and one of the rare non-human ones to boot.
In most other rankings, you'd find Twintelle up top. She's made the most waves of the Arms fighters (or rather, she's the most crushworthy, according to fanart and Twitter thirst). She's also one of the few Arms fighters who doesn't even use her actual arms: her hair does all the work. Her arms just rest confidently on her hips, as she motions a slap as her hair does all the work. Personally, Twintelle's my main fighter. She can slow down foes' arms with a floating glide, where her high vantage point can prove deadly for a quick grab. But even with all Twintelle's perks, she's kind of like everyone else in a lot of regards. Nothing really sets her apart, aside from her lush character design.
Mechanica has the most endearing origin of all the Arms fighters, as is clued by the game. Mechanica didn't wake up one day with magic elastic arms, like the rest of the roster. Instead, Mechanica adored them. She watched the Arms Grand Prix, became obsessed with the frenetic matches, before she ultimately decided that she wanted to be in the ring herself. She took matters into her own hands.
Thus, Mechanica was truly born. She made a mecha that she could pilot, one with elongated arms to slam into opponents. Mechanica represents the hopeful, positive spirit that thrives within Arms—the colorful, new world Nintendo was establishing, one where anyone could be a fighter even if they weren't born with it (which feels very My Hero Academia-esque). She's an unlikely hero in the ring, one that doesn't have to wear a mask to keep her Arms extended. Because unlike her peers, she has complete control of her arms, all by herself.
2. Ribbon Girl
Ribbon Girl is Arms. In more ways than Spring Man, her male co-cover star, is. Ribbon Girl is a pop singer turned cheerleading-outfit-wearing Arms fighter. She throws punches as her pink ribbons stretch forward. She can double jump in the air. She's the type of character players underestimate because she's light and nimble, when her agility is actually her strongest weapon of all. Her stage's song may get annoying after repeated battles, but her adorable grin as she wins a match makes it all worth it.
I love to hate Helix. Yet when it comes down to it, Helix is the hellish Flubber-like beast that I remember the most from Arms. Helix is ugly, right down to his gelatinous exterior. He bounces high and sinks low into a puddle. As I noted in my review, he's one of rare characters in Arms that feels drastically different to play as then the rest: his abilities and movements are wholly unique. That's probably because Helix isn't human, or really anything, Helix is assumedly the DNA that makes the Arms contestants the way they are: long-armed, and ready to fight.
Helix has inspired a following too, just as Twintelle has inspired fanart galore. We've seen truly disturbing and unsettling cosplay of the green hero. We've seen photoshops of him waving his DNA-stranded arms in that club scene in The Matrix Reloaded. We've seen Helix everywhere, his gross victory pose of gasping as the pit-pat of his feet gallop by. Just thinking about Helix sends a shiver down my spine. And that's what makes him the most powerful character in Arms.