Yesterday, Nintendo aired a new Direct presentation centered on its next big Switch release ARMS, and closed with a small single-player trailer for Splatoon 2. While I’m not a huge fan of fighting games and really couldn’t care less about ARMS at this point, I was curious to see exactly what the game would include, and find out definitively whether or not there was enough here to change my opinion. Let’s dive in, shall we?
- The character design is pretty decent here. There’s a lot of variety in both the aesthetics (standard fighters, ninjas, pop stars, autonomous robots, non-autonomous robots, etc.) and functions (each character seems to have some unique ability to distinguish them).
- The arena designs, on the other hand, are not terribly inspired. They all look nice and have some small differences, but for the most part they seem interchangeable.
- The various non-fighting modes are nice, but they look kind of shallow and may not have a lot of replay value. Dunking opponents through a basketball hoop made me laugh when I saw it, but I feel like both that and the volleyball mode would get old pretty quickly. Grand Prix reminded me of the old Mortal Kombat “climb the ladder” setup (which I never really enjoyed, but a lot of people did), and 1 vs. 100 has a Super Smash Bros. vibe to it (actually, I wasn’t a huge fan of that mode in SSB either). Andre from GameXplain muses in their Direct discussion that the single-player content here will be pretty light (perhaps even lighter than in Splatoon), and I think he’s on to something.
- Back in my E3 post, I said that Nintendo should adopt the Splatoon-style approach of releasing more (free) content in the months after the game’s release. Not only is Nintendo doing this, but they’re going a step further a running a “Testpunch” event across two weekends to give players a taste of the game (and the company’s servers a taste of the loads they’ll see in production). This is a great move to get skeptics like me to give the game a spin with no strings (springs?) attached, and perhaps convince them to take a chance on buying the full game.
- The highlight of the Direct for me was the Splatoon 2 trailer, and it was as good as I had hoped. The single-player mode has more enemy and weapon variety (although I didn’t see the “Hero .96 Gal” I wanted), and builds nicely on the lore from the original game. While I’m not 100% sold on the “evil Callie” theory that’s been floating around, it would certainly be an interesting plot twist. (I also like the Hero Suit design a lot more now—the clothing now screams “cool Squidbeak splatoon member” instead of “highway safety worker.”)
- I’m starting to think Nintendo’s going to owe Blizzard some royalties with its upcoming titles, because I’m seeing a huge Overwatch influence in both ARMS and Splatoon 2:
- The character roster in ARMS feels very Overwatch-like in its composition (very diverse) and some of its specific designs (Mechanica is basically a ten-year-old D. Va).
- In addition to the similar Splatoon 2 special attacks (the Ink Slam looks a lot like Lucio’s Sound Barrier, while the Jet Pack makes me think of Pharah’s Barrage), if the “evil Callie” theory is indeed true, then she’s basically Widowmaker. (It’s too bad that Marie wasn’t the captured one, as her charger preference would have made her the perfect Widow clone.) Honestly, I’m kind of hoping for more of this sort of thing (the charger equivalent of McCree’s Deadeye would be both awesome and terrifying).
In the end, this Direct was a 90% no-op for me: I’m still not that excited by ARMS, and I was already super-hyped for Splatoon 2. Still, that last 10% is key, because the ARMS Testpunch might be the thing that finally gets me excited about that game. (At the very least, the event will be worth a good blog post afterwards.) With these two games and the mountain of 3DS titles coming this summer, Nintendo appears to be heading into E3 with the most momentum that it’s had in years.