Over the past few months, an official Nintendo account has been sharing tidbits of ARMS lore on Twitter. @ARMS_Cobutter is the account of the fictional announcer in the ARMS League named “Cobutter” in Japanese (otherwise known as Biff in the Western version of the game). I’ve been following Cobutter’s account and have been deeply entertained by the absurd lore they’ve conjured up for ARMS. I figured other ARMS fans might be entertained to learn more about the lore as well, so I’ve gone ahead and translated the lore posts I’ve seen thus far.
The first set of four posts discuss the history of the spring-like phenotype and the people with the ARMS trait.
The oldest documented evidence of the ARMS trait goes back about 1,500 years. However, some ARMS experts argue that the ARMS trait has existed as far back as 4,000 years. The spring-like phenotype is not limited to humans—plants and animals are also known to display it.
The incidence of the ARMS trait is increasing, with a current estimate of about two percent of the population. It seems that if we include unreported cases, the incidence is likely to be even higher. Historically, people saw ARMS ability holders as rare, but today they are widely known and adored.
While the ARMS trait itself has existed since time immemorial, its history in competition only stretches back about 120 years. This is because the instability of the ARMS trait makes unassisted competition impossible. All of that changed, however, when “masks” were invented by the ARMS Agency (now known as the ARMS Laboratory).
Without a “mask,” the arms of people with the ARMS trait will switch between normal and spring-like uncontrollably. The “mask” enables people with the ARMS trait to stabilize their fist while elongating their arms. This was the key to creating physical competition between people with the ARMS trait. Today, “masks” are produced at the ARMS Laboratory and provided free of charge to people with the ARMS trait by the ARMS Association.
The ARMS Lab Reports explain (in excruciating detail) the physical nature of the ARMS phenotype. It explains how the spring ARMS are connected to the spiral irises, how the hair is also involved, and the role of the masks in controlling the trait. It also hints that ARMS Labs personnel use espionage to infiltrate the personal spheres of people with the ARMS traits in order to learn more about them.
The ARMS trait manifests most commonly in the middle of the night, so most cases are noticed when waking from sleep. Typically, the trait is first noticed in the early teen years. The oldest confirmed case is 74 years old. While it is extremely rare, there are cases where the ARMS trait manifests at birth.
The probability of being born with the ARMS trait is approximately 1 in 100,000 births. Kid Cobra, one of the competitors in ARMS League, is one such individual. He has never revealed his genetic background, and he is always wearing a mask. This makes him a highly interesting and rare target for study—he is high on our research priority list.
It is currently believed that the spring-arm capability manifests for one of two reasons: Either the person is closely related to someone with the ability or something nearby at the time of initial expression triggered the ability. However, there are known exceptions to these rules... A staff member is currently undercover investigating one such “exceptional” fighter. The results will be reported at a later date.
The iris of a person with the ARMS trait displays a spiral pattern. The “mask” was developed based on the hypothesis that the spring-arm ability could be indirectly controlled through the iris. To prevent misuse, technical details of how the “masks” work are confidential. Details must be requested directly from Doctor C.
There is no precedent for the ARMS trait to manifest in the hair. Request for cooperation in researching this unique phenomenon was refused three times. A sample is necessary for investigation. Several staff members have attempted to infiltrate her inner circle and gather hair samples, but contact with them has ceased. Does she truly have the ARMS ability? But if not... how do we explain her spiral irises?
The ARMS Lab Staff Diaries cover the development of the Hedlok “wearable weapon”/entity. It also drops a few hints about the enigmatic “Dr. C” of ARMS Labs who seems to be on the ethics-free side of laissez faire scientific experimentation and research.
The “wearable weapon” project, which enables fighters to have sparring partners who do not inherently have the ARMS trait, was launched. Essentially, it is like a buffed-up punching bag. Dr. C leads the project and it is my first time working with him. I am looking forward to it. Our immediate goal is to assess whether an ordinary person is able to control multiple arms.
We are stuck trying to solve a major problem. Dr. C rejected our proposals to boost brainpower and enable multiple arm control in a normal person. Based on the doctor’s theory, we started to test whether we could “extend thinking” to the wearable weapon. Thus, we changed the mounting position from the torso to the head. The doctor keeps close contact with us, but never shows himself in person. I am becoming worried.
It escaped. First, it started “thinking”... and now Hedlok is apparently on the search for something. This is an emergency, but the doctor’s interest has already moved on to other issues. For example, can we make a version that can be worn easily? We will leave the handling of Hedlok to the ARMS competitors... from here on he will truly be their “sparring partner”...
Unlike the lab diaries, lab reports, and the history, these posts are not labeled per se. However, they are unified by their theme—the ARMS Lab! These are a bit scattershot and aren’t overly informative generally, but they are pretty interesting. There are a few potential hints to future updates as well in the latter ones.
They march out by the hundreds and resemble Helix… but do they have their own names like Helix does…? Their main feature is the big shiny eye on their head! Just like Helix, they were created in ARMS Laboratory. Even after they get hit, they come back and give the fighters more practice. The weekend is over, so head out! What a mysterious lifeform!
I found something! In the depths of the darkness of the lab… there it was! For what purpose did they make this thing? Whatever it is, the lab must take every precaution with it. I feel like I’m being watched… I should go. Best to just leave well enough alone!
Notice from ARMS Lab, this time with the ever-elusive included video! “We are testing whether fighters can try it out as well. We have had numerous requests for this and expect it to be available soon…” I had no idea there was such a demand! But I also kind of want to try it out…!
A follow-up from the ARMS Lab…! “We are continuing to develop the prototype. Delivery of the prototype is scheduled for two days from now. While wearing it, the burden on the mind is great—the Chairman can only withstand it because of his great strength. We have therefore included a time limit for safety. In order to provide on-site experience to the fighters…” Oh… that’s supposed to be reassuring…?
According to an acquaintance, this computer is used as some sort of “difference machine”… Wait, there’s some kind of map there! It looks like the ARMS Association is located on the lower left of the map! …but this map is very old and shows a number of subtle differences… I will have to try to find a newer map to present!
Personal notes are additional information shared about the fighters in ARMS.
Let’s take a peek into Mechanica’s studio and, what’s that I spy… is that the Chairman, Max Brass? In a photo with a young Mechanica and… is that her father? The cowlick was passed on at the genetic level…! A family gathering… I wouldn’t want to miss a pic with the Chairman either!
Unsurprisingly, the most prolific series of posts are about the part of ARMS people care about most: the fashion! The fashion checks are fun and reveal a little bit about the fighters’ personalities. It seems the fighters often wear particular brands... maybe there is sponsorship in the world of ARMS? (By the by, I did my best translating the brand names from Japanese, but Nintendo may decide to give them different names in English in the future!)
“Fashion check! Let’s take a look at the fighters’ clothes. Spring Man’s shirt and shoes are the same brand: ‘Billy’. If we look closely at Ribbon Girl’s costume, we can see that her brand is also ‘Billy’! These are clearly special order items!”
“Fashion check! This time let’s look at Mechanica! Is this even technically “fashion”? When we zoom in on her suit, we see a sticker for the ‘Dodorgen’ heavy chemical company. This company is also famous for making the revolver. What is her relationship to Dodorgen? It’s such a small sticker... I nearly missed it.”
“It’s time to check out Min Min’s fashion! It seems her entire outfit is from the brand called ‘Barabara’. Yes, I definitely wanted a hat that matches hers. Let’s see… hmm, this is the first time I’ve heard of that brand…! But it’s so cute… I want it… I’m going to look it up online when I get home!”
“Fashion check! It’s Ninjara’s turn! His outfit has a very ‘Eastern’ feel to it. The brand is called ‘Joe’. It’s super black and looks like ninja gear! Wait, what is that little pin? Cute! There seem to be different colors available too... I want it!”
“Fashion check! Twintelle! Twintelle wears clothing entirely from her own brand called ‘OVALA’. Of course, even her perfume is from ‘OVALA’. What... an enchanting scent...! Her clothing line is backordered at all the stores, and it’s unclear when they will be back in stock. Please make a men’s line as well!”
“Don’t get distracted by the model’s beautiful physique... this is another fashion check! He wears clothes that cut along his body’s natural lines exquisitely. It is made of a high stretch material that expands when he flexes. Chairman, I must avert my eyes! Finally we will get to see you in all your glory... tomorrow!”
“Fashion check! It’s Master Mummy’s turn! His costume is from “Achom”. It’s clunky-but-functional wear. And what a sexy look, with only one shoulder strap. Actually, Spring Man’s trunks are also the same brand! Looking at it, it feels strangely formal.”
“This time it’s a Kid Cobra fashion check! Kid Cobra’s favorite is the boarder brand ‘Snex’. The brand gained popularity thanks to exposure from kids on video streaming sites. The snake motif is perfect for Kid Cobra!”
ARMS has great potential as a work of weird science fiction. While initially it seemed as though ARMS lore would be essentially a work of style-over-narrative retconning, there’s no denying that the spring arms, masks, and spiral irises are all narratively tied together at a much deeper level than it first seemed. The bread crumbs leading to the first major update that added a playable Max Brass and Hedlok mode were hopefully a sign of things to come. While updates have slowed now that the game is over a month old, there is still a steady stream of posts and the promise of free DLC updates to come.
We have yet to see any posts dedicated to Barq and Byte (my personal favorites). While Helix is mentioned tangentially in a few of the posts, we have learned very little about who (and what) he really is despite a heavy focus on ARMS Labs and Hedlok. We haven’t had many personal details of most of the characters at all. And who is Dr. C? Maybe the answers are out there, but I haven’t found them among these notes.
As for what’s coming up, the map in ARMS Lab Investigation 5 is probably a hint—perhaps a new arena? Time will tell. And if more ARMS Lore comes to light, maybe it will answer the many (many) remaining question we have about this crazy ficitonal world.
So what do you think about ARMS lore? Do you think it was all made up one night over a bowl of ramen down the street from the Nintendo offices? Do you think it was actually planned out or that they just made it up on cocktail napkins after a night of drinking? Do you care? Are you still playing the game and enjoying it? Drop a comment below and let us know!
If you liked the above, let me know! I would love to share more of the weird and wild world of translated Japanese video game lore in the future if there’s interest. And you can always drop me a message on Twitter at @DrM2theJ. If you didn’t like it, be thankful it was free and keep it to yourself. Much love True Gamers!