Could Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp Come To The Switch?

Don’t look now, but I think Nintendo has already released its Animal Crossing title for the Switch. It just hasn’t released it on the console yet.

As part of its mobile gaming initiative, Nintendo announced Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp for iOS and Android devices last month. It’s an interesting take on the AC series, and incorporates a number of exciting new elements (item crafting, explicit friendship levels) along with some sad-but-necessary ones (microtransations…). As I watched the Direct presentation, it felt like the Big N was introducing a new, fully-featured Animal Crossing entry, unlike stripped-down games like Pokémon Go and Super Mario Run. It looked like a game that could have just as easily wound up on the Switch as on smartphones.

Then a crazy thought popped into my head: What if that was Nintendo’s plan to begin with?

Cross-console games are nothing new in the industry (heck, it feels like every game ever existed is getting a Switch port these days), but Nintendo’s tendency to keep its IPs to itself has kept it from joining in on this trend. Even when the company began to branch out onto mobile devices, its offerings were simplified versions of its games (Pokémon GoSuper Mario Run, etc.) that were heavily-customized for mobile hardware. Pocket Camp, however, doesn’t really fit that description: All of the important features of Animal Crossing (resource harvesting, villager interactions, home customizations) are present and accounted for, along with item crafting and the other cool features I listed earlier. If I had to guess, I’d say this a Switch or 3DS game that got redirected when Nintendo put together its mobile strategy, and one that could easily be brought back to Nintendo hardware in the future.

Fans have been clamoring for an Animal Crossing Switch title ever since the console was announced, and porting over Pocket Camp seems like a straightforward, economical way to satisfy these demands. But what would have to change to make this a reality?

  • Map Layout: The game’s map is broken down into small sections for individual tasks (bug catching, fishing, shopping, and so on), likely to account for the resource constraints of smart devices. New Leaf, on the other hand, featured a (mostly) unified world, so for a Switch version, some of these separated areas would likely be expanded and combined.
  • Control Mapping: The Switch’s touch screen is only available in portable mode, so Pocket Camp‘s controls will need to be remapped to the Joy-Con buttons. Motion controls offer an intriguing possibility as well: Imagine swinging your arm to catch a bug with your net or cast a line with your fishing pole!
  • Price Structure: This is probably the biggest obstacle to a cross-device game. Microtransactions are a fact of life in the mobile gaming sphere, and Pocket Camp is no exception: The game is free to play, but real money can be spent to obtain crafting materials or speed up building times. Nickel-and-dime strategies like this, however, are not well-received in the traditional console market, which means the game would likely come with a $40-$60 upfront price tag. Furthermore, no one is going to pay $40-$60 for a game they can play for free on their phone, so Nintendo would have to come up with a way to induce players to invest in the game’s console version (Extra features? Larger maps? Discounted or more-prevalent Leaf Tickets?). If done right, however, this could actually be a boon for Nintendo, as they would give players the flexibility to “pay and play” however they wish.

Yes, there would inevitably be some backlash from fans who want their own dedicated version of Animal Crossing rather than some cheap mobile port, but overall I think there are enough positives here to warrant bringing Pocket Camp to the Switch in the future. Nintendo’s 2018 Switch lineup still has some room for a blockbuster title or two, and Pocket Camp looks has the potential to be the true New Leaf successor fans have been clamoring for.

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Song Review: Thomas Rhett, “Marry Me”

(Still waiting for an official YouTube release for this song…)

I’m starting to think of Thomas Rhett the way I thought of Tom Brady early in his career: The Hall of Fame might as well reserve him a spot right now.

Music critics are rarely unanimous in their decisions, but “Marry Me” was singled out by most everyone (including myself) as the best single on Rhett’s latest album Life Changes. Apparently the higher-ups at Valory Music got the message: After Rhett’s last single “Unforgettable” rocketed to No. 1 so fast that you would have missed it if you blinked, the label delivered “Marry Me” to radio as Life Changes‘s third single. The song is surprisingly mature and powerful for a first attempt at a heartbreak song (yes, “Crash And Burn” was technically about a lost love, but it was framed too positively to count), and while I don’t think it’ll reach the heights of “Die A Happy Man,” I’ll bet it comes pretty darn close.

The production here starts small, with a classical piano handling the melody and a subdued drum machine keeping time, and mixes in enough bright tones to create the facade of a sappy wedding song. As the song progresses and the secret is revealed, more instruments are thrown in (guitars, real drums, and eventually an entire string section), and the song slowly builds volume and momentum, reaching an urgent crescendo on the bridge as the narrator debates what he should do before he runs out of time to do it. The mix does a nice job of maintaining sonic consistency while subtly adjusting its tone from sweet to melancholy to not only keep up with the writing, but accentuate and enhance it. It’s easily one of the better sound/lyric combinations I’ve heard all year.

Sad, serious songs are about the last thing you expect from Rhett, but he steps up to the mic here and delivers an earnest, understated performance that might be his best one yet. He does a nice job maintaining the song’s initial head fake until the punch line of the chorus, and while the song mostly keeps his voice in its lower range (where it has a slightly rough edge at times), he gets a few opportunities to climb the ladder and showcase his range. The real key here, however, is how incredibly believable he is: The singer of such classics as “Get Me Some Of That” and “Make Me Wanna” is talking about walking away from a women he desperately covets, yet exhibits enough charisma and sincerity to leave the listener thinking “Yeah, I buy that.” Rhett has successfully moved on from his Bro-Country roots to become a more-conventional superstar, and although we’ll probably still see a meatheaded single or two from him in the future (much like Cole Swindell and “Flatliner”), he’s shown that he’s got enough game to handle deeper tracks like this one.

The writing here is a nice play on all the wedding-ready ballads on the charts right now (“Greatest Love Story,” “I’ll Name The Dogs,” etc.). This track starts out in the same vein, but takes a clever twist at the end of the chorus to reveal that the narrator isn’t the one getting married. While there are certainly enough songs in country music about watching a love interest marry someone else, most of them either focus on a) barging in and confessing their feelings, or b) wallowing in self-pity as they watch the proceedings from afar. Here, however, the narrator not only comes to the wedding to offer support, but explicitly passes on the chance to step in and express his own feelings. It’s a mature, honorable gesture that I haven’t seen in a country song since Tim McGraw’s “Just To See You Smile,” and it’s pretty refreshing considering how many recent songs have handled such scenarios (Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him,” Jake Owen’s “If He Ain’t Gonna Love You,” Jordan Davis “Singles You Up,” etc.). Pair this kind of writing with suitable production and vocals, and you’ve got an impactful tune that’s instantly one of the best songs on the radio today.

Even among Thomas Rhett’s impressive run of singles, “Marry Me” stands out as one of the best, featuring an excellent combination of sound, singer and writing. Sad songs tend to have a tougher climb to the top than happier ones, but this one is so good (and Rhett’s star is burning so brightly right now) that I feel like a quick trip to the top like “Unforgettable” is the worst-case scenario.

Rating: 9/10. It’s already one of my favorite songs of the year.

Song Review: Keith Urban, “Female”

While I applaud the sentiment behind this song, I can’t help but feel like whoever wrote this thing either got bored or ran out of ideas halfway through it.

Country music has a long tradition of artists addressing current events in their songs (see Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning),” or Maren Morris’s “Dear Hate” earlier this year), and Keith Urban joined that group last week when he debuted his new single “Female,” at the 2017 Country Music Awards. The song is billed as a reaction to the recent series of sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein and a number of other powerful men, and it serves as a repudiation of the toxic environments that women face in today’s society. It’s the sort of pointed topical discussion that I wish happened a lot more in country music, and Urban and the songwriters deserve credit for putting this out there, but this track honestly feels half-baked to me, alternating moments of brilliance with inexplicable laziness.

The production is purposefully low-key and restrained here, setting the proper mood for the song without getting in the way of its message. The melody is split between a spacious electric guitar and piano, and the percussion is a quiet mix of real and synthetic sounds. The riffs are simple and basic here, but I’m okay with that: I’ve criticized some of Urban’s songs in the past for not giving one of the best guitarists in the genre room to shine, but showing off his guitar wizardry here would feel a bit hollow and detract from the song’s theme. Similarly, there are minor chords sprinkled throughout the song, but they serve to demand our attention and underline the seriousness of the topic. In short, the mix sets a proper tone for the writing, and that’s pretty much all you can ask for.

Urban has never been known for tackling serious issues through his music, but he does a nice job bringing the required amounts of earnestness and gravitas on “Female.” The song is more demanding emotionally than technically (neither Urban’s range nor flow is tested), and Urban has both the chops and the career longevity to give an authoritative take on this subject. I never got the feeling that he was trying to “mansplain” the subject to his listeners, although the song seems to jump between addressing men and women during the verses. There aren’t a lot of singers in country music who could do this song justice, but thankfully Urban demonstrates that he’s one of them.

My big issue with “Female” stems from the lyrics, which take listeners on a rollercoaster of thought-provoking questions and mind-numbing laundry lists. The direct questions on the verses (Should “throw like a girl” be an insult? Do women really “ask for it” because of their fashion choices?) are actually pretty powerful (even though they’re posed rhetorically), and lead people to think about their attitudes towards women and the subtle ways they express bias in their daily lives. It’s all great…until the chorus comes along and slaps the listener with a long, drawn-out laundry list of random nouns. Some of these are labels commonly given to women (sister, daughter, mother, baby girl), some are occupations that don’t seem to have any gender connotation (secret keeper, fortune teller), and some are just random words that make absolutely no sense in context (Fire? Suit of armor? “Technicolor, river wild?”). The song goes from asking tough questions to spouting gibberish in an instant, giving the listener sonic whiplash and leaving them feeling confused about the song in the end. Despite the best efforts of Urban and the production, it’s this confusion that leaves the biggest impression.

“Female” makes some solid points and was written with good intentions, and I really want to like it. In the end, however, it’s defined by its inconsistent writing, and I’m left feeling ambivalent about the song when it’s over. Keith Urban and his producers show here that they have the skills to tackle a topic like misogyny, but they need to find songs that do a better job getting their message across.

Rating: 6/10. It’s worth hearing once or twice, but you’ll likely forget about it soon afterwards.

Song Review: Kane Brown, “Heaven”

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Kane Brown must be Thomas Rhett’s biggest fan, because they’re operating from the same playbook.

Despite my ambivalence on “What Ifs,” the seventh time turned out to be the charm for Brown, as the song found some radio traction and eventually became his first No. 1 hit. In an effort to maintain his airplay success, Kane appears to be using Rhett’s career as a blueprint, as Rhett made a masterful transition from a generic Bro-Country meathead to a successful R&B-inspired balladeer. Brown’s latest single “Heaven” suggests that he’s trying to walk the same path, as it eschews the synthetic bombast of his earlier work in favor of a restrained, romantic approach. Amazingly, if this song is any indication, Brown just might be able to pull this transition off.

At its core, the production here is very similar to Brown’s prior work, featuring a prominent mix of real and synthetic percussion (with a heavy emphasis on the latter), and an acoustic instrument (usually a guitar or banjo, but a dobro is used here) carrying the melody. However, the intensity and bombast that usually characterizes Brown’s work is completely absent here: The drum machine is limited to rhythmic snapping and give the real drums more space to shine, and in the in-your-face electric guitars have been replaced by simple chord stabs from a single slick-sounding guitar. While I’d stop short of saying the mix sets the super-sexy mood that Brown is shooting for, the atmosphere here is both romantic and refreshingly relaxed (as opposed to David Lee Murphy’s lifeless “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”), and there’s a nice mix of major and minor chords that conveys the depth of the speaker’s feelings without feeling overly serious. It’s not particularly memorable, but it’s at least a smooth-sounding song that’s easy on the ears.

In terms of Brown’s delivery, I would label this his best vocal performance since “Used To Love You Sober.” To fit the mood of the song, he drops his usual rapid-fire cadence in favor of a slower, R&B-styled sound, and the change seems to suit his voice well. On a technical level, he exhibits good range and a smooth flow, and he brings enough earnestness to the track to make it sound sweet and sincere. Just as I noted on “What Ifs,” while his lower range is still his voice’s biggest selling point (a fact the song exploits by plumbing the depth of Brown’s voice during the verses), he still lacks the tone and polish of a Josh Turner or Trace Adkins, and actually sounds more comfortable when he jumps into his upper range for the chorus and bridge. On the whole, however, it’s a decent delivery, and he seems comfortable enough with the song’s style to make future expansion into romantic ballads a real possibility.

The song’s premise is pretty simple: The narrator and his partner have just concluded a night of romantic bliss, and the singer is declaring that it was so pleasureful that “I don’t know how heaven…could be better than this.” There’s nothing terribly clever or original here, and there’s no context given for the engagement (one night stand, or committed relationship?), but there’s nothing offensive or annoying here either—it’s a light, fluffy ballad that relies on the singer’s charisma to keep it from becoming too cheesy or sleazy. There’s enough here to keep the writing from detracting from the song’s mood, and pairing it with Brown’s delivery and suitable production leaves the listener with a (slightly) favorable impression.

Overall, “Heaven” is a decent song that features enough positive signs to leave me surprisingly bullish on Kane Brown’s future in the genre. A lot of singers have made a pretty good living off of sappy romantic stuff like this (again, see Thomas Rhett), and while I wasn’t overly moved by this song, I’m not really its target audience either, and Brown flashes just enough potential here to convince me that he can make this work. I underestimated him once, and I’m not making the same mistake twice.

Rating: 6/10. Give it a listen and see what you think.

NBA 2K18: Is It Worth Buying?

Sad zombie, or Golden State Warriors coach? You decide.

As a basketball telecast simulation, NBA 2K18 is a pretty great. As an actual game…not so much.

I’ve been waiting for non-Mario sports games to return to Nintendo hardware for years now, so I jumped for joy at the news that NBA 2K18 would not only be coming to the console, but would have feature parity with its non-Nintendo counterparts. No longer would Switch players be forced to endure watered-down versions of the games they enjoy! I had to wait an extra month for a physical copy of the game (a wise decision, given the buggy state the game was originally released in), and…well, for better or worse, this thing feels more like an interactive TV broadcast than a game.

My specific thoughts are as follows:

  • What was that about the Switch’s inferior hardware? Because for my money, NBA 2K18 looks amazingly good on the console. The players, arenas, and even fans are surprisingly detailed, and while some of the faces aren’t terribly expressive (see Coach Steve Kerr above), the game hits way more often than it misses in this department.
  • I tried a few online matches, and while I was completely outclassed by my opponents, the infrastructure itself seemed solid and I only had a few isolated issues with lag.
  • If I had to describe the gameplay in one word, it would be sloooooooooow. The game strives to be a realistic simulation of an televised game, complete with halftime shows, mascot/cheerleader interludes, city skyline shots, player interviews, replays, players emoting after good and bad plays, and long, drawn-out sequences whenever the ball goes out of bounds or a player has to shoot a free throw. I can’t count how many time I’ve shouted “Just give me the @#$% ball!” at the game as I spam the A button trying to fast-forward through these animations. I understand that such sequences are part of real games, but I’m here to play a game, not watch it, and all of this extra fluff just feels like wasted time to me.
  • The game advertises a thorough set of controls that give you precise control of your player’s movement. While hardcore NBA 2K players appreciate the granularity, I’d settle for a simple “shoot” button instead of having to time my press and release. The players also feel a bit sluggish as they’re running down the court, even when holding the “sprint” button. The game has lots of control, but not the tight, responsive, Mario-esque ones I’m looking for.
  • Microtransactions don’t bother me that much, but having to give a game a lot of personal information does. Nba 2K18 demands your birthday and email account (the latter through the clunkiest interface possible) the moment you start the game, which feels really prying and unnecessary if you’re not interested in buying extra stuff. You can enjoy the game just fine without having to spend an additional cent, so demanding information in such a pushy manner makes a really bad first impression.

I realized pretty quickly that despite my fandom, I was not part of NBA 2K18‘s target audience. That’s fine, and hardcore players who enjoy watching the game and demand finicky control of their player’s movements will find a lot of good in this game. Game-centric players like myself, however, are going to wind up more frustrated by this title than they should, and given that a most sports gamers have already migrated to different consoles, NBA 2K18 doesn’t feel like a good match for the Switch’s user base.

I recommend a try-before-you-buy approach: Rent or borrow the game, hit the hardwood for a few matches, and see whether or not you enjoy the experience. Pick the game up if you do, and avoid it if you don’t.

Song Review: David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”

There’s a fine line between a chill song and a lifeless one, and unfortunately for David Lee Murphy, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” is the latter.

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that Murphy’s career existed at all: He peaked briefly in the mid-90s with tracks like “Dust On The Bottle” and “Party Crowd,” racked up five Top Ten Billboard hits over his nondescript career, and hadn’t released a single to radio since 2004. Suddenly, however, Murphy has a new album (No Zip Code) slated to release this year, with “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” a duet with album co-producer Kenny Chesney, serving as the leadoff single. In theory the song is meant to reassure and reinspire its audience in the face of tough times, but in practice the track is a plodding, monotonic mess that depresses the listener more than anything else.

The production is incredibly basic and bare-bones, with most of the song featuring a lazy one-note riff repeated over a drum machine. An organ jumps in on the chorus to add some background atmosphere, and an electric guitar provides a (boring) solo, but they’re not featured enough to add much to the song. The combination of a slower tempo with the dimly-toned guitar and drums sets a way-too-dark tone for the song, making it sound more like a funeral march than a relaxing beachside tune. Basically, the mix sets the exact opposite tone that it should, and makes what should be a hopeful, optimistic song feel dreary and boring.

Vocally, Murphy sounds about the same as he did when I last encountered him on “Loco” over a decade ago, but he’s hampered by two issues: The song constrains his range and traps him in his lower register for most of the song, and the echoey effects added to his lines make him sound even raspier than usual. As a result, his delivery comes across as monotonic and lifeless instead of relaxed and optimistic. For Chesney’s part, he sounds the same as he usually does, and while his performance lacks energy, he at least sounds invested in the track, unlike on “Bar At The End Of The World”). (However, the song is most definitely not written as a duet, which begs the question why Chesney was added in the first place…besides the obvious financial and radio implications, of course.) The pair appears to have some decent vocal chemistry, but the harmony vocals are so low in the mix that you barely hear them. Overall, the pair offers a tolerable-but-forgettable performance that is immediately washed out of your ears by the next song.

There isn’t a whole lot to the writing here, as the song just talks about the narrator being uplifted by a sign in a bar saying “everything’s gonna be alright.” It’s not a particularly deep or compelling tale, and doesn’t really offer any reason to feel optimistic outside of blind faith (basically, the message is “everything will be fine, because…it just will.”) Throw in the usual barroom and drinking tropes, and this song falls into the same category as Chris Janson’s “Fix A Drink”: A shallow escapist song that encourages peoples to ignore the problems around them instead of addressing them. It’s not overly offensive, but it’s not memorable either, and with the lyrics and production setting opposite moods, it’s not a terribly pleasant listen.

Overall, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” is a misnomer: If you mix shallow writing and tone-deaf production, everything’s actually gonna suck. “Loco” put a nice bow on David Lee Murphy’s career, and he would have been better off not chasing radio relevance with this half-baked track.

Rating: 4/10. Skip it.

Which Splatoon Maps Will Return For Splatoon 2?

Over three months into its run, Splatoon 2 remains a fresh and popular title even in the face of strong competition (*cough* Super Mario Odyssey *cough*). Part of this has been the game’s strategy of releasing weekly content updates, which introduce “new” weapons and multiplayer stages and keep the game from becoming stale. For the most part, however, “new” has meant “old stuff from the original game,” as many of the added weapons and a few of the new stages (Kelp Dome, Blackbelly Skatepark, etc.) are moved over to Splatoon 2 with minimal changes.

At this point, I’m assuming that every weapon from Splatoon will eventually end up in Splatoon 2 (I’m still waiting for my N-Zap ’89), but whether or not all the old maps return is another question. So far, the maps here tend to share some distinct characteristics:

  • Aside from Sturgeon Shipyard, they’re all completely static (no moving parts).
  • They tend to have multiple paths out of each spawn point to discouraging spawn camping.
  • They tend to be very wide, almost to the point that they feel square (Port Mackerel and Manta Maria being the notable exceptions).
  • Their centers tend to be open, but they also feature a lot of uneven ground to serve as minor obstacles/lookout points and make things more interesting.
Map Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality
The Reef Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Minimal
Musselforge Fitness Yes 3 Wide Open, Small Lots
Starfish Mainstage Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Moderate
Humpback Pump Track Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Uneven
Inkblot Art Academy Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Lots
Moray Towers Yes 2 Narrow Open, Small LOTS
Port Mackerel Yes 3 Narrow Obscured, Small Minimal
Sturgeon Shipyard No 3 Narrow Open, Small Moderate
Manta Maria Yes 2 Narrow Open, Medium Lots
Kelp Dome Yes 2 Wide Open, Large Moderate
Snapper Canal Yes 3 Wide Open, Small Moderate
Blackbelly Skatepark Yes Narrow Open, Small Moderate

*This was my attempt to measure the ease of spawn camping on a map, but its actual usefulness is questionable.

Based on this criteria, can we make any inferences about what other original maps might return in the future? Let’s take a look at the stages that have not yet made it into Splatoon 2, and see how they stack up against their newer brethren:

Arowana Mall:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 3 Narrow Open, Small Moderate Yes

The adoption of smaller maps like Port Mackerel bodes well for the return of Arowana. It’s a difficult map to spawn camp on given the presence of a side path that leads directly to the map center, and the terrain has plenty of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. I think it gets expanded with minimal rework (more than Kelp Dome, but less than Blackbelly Skatepark) and re-released in the near future.

Saltspray Rig:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 3 Wide Offset, Moderate Lots No

SaltSpray stands out from other Splatoon maps because of its symmetry (vertical rather than horizontal), its offset center with an obvious chokepoint, and its lack of inkable terrain on the bottom side of the map. Its crane also gives it a dynamic component (which admittedly wasn’t that useful), which is not something you see from most new maps (and none of the returning ones thus far). I just don’t think this map suits the playstyle Nintendo is looking for in Splatoon 2.

Urchin Underpass:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 2 Narrow Open, Moderate Lots Yes

After all the work that went into Urchin Underpass, I’d be surprised if this didn’t reappear in Splatoon 2. It’s not an easy map to camp on despite its lack of direct paths from spawn, and the center is fairly open with plenty of verticality to take advantage of. Just like Arowana, I think it gets widened a little bit and otherwise left alone.

Walleye Warehouse:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 1 Narrow Open, Moderate Little No

Looking back, it’s kind of crazy to realize how boring Walleye Warehouse really was. The spawn points are set fairly deep in a passageway that makes spawn camping a major concern, and the center area is mostly flat and uninteresting (it’s basically a less-exciting version of Inkblot Art Academy or Blackbelly Skatepark). I don’t think this one come back.

Bluefin Depot:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 2 Narrow Split, Moderate Moderate No

One interesting trend in Splatoon 2 is the lack of split-center maps that force players to work their way around a specific side of the map to reach the enemy (Snapper Canal is about as close as Splatoon 2 comes, and it’s not that close at all). Throw in Bluefin’s diminutive size and lack of interesting center features, and I don’t think it’s a great candidate to return.

Camp Triggerfish:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 2/3 Narrow Split, Small Moderate No

Camp Triggerfish is basically a more-extreme version of Bluefin Depot: The entire map is divided in half (with limited opportunities to cross the gap), the center is pretty small with little turf to ink, and the design is narrow despite the map’s decent size. Throw it the dynamic gates, and this looks like a no-go to me.

Flounder Heights:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 3 Wide Open, Moderate Lots Yes

Flounder Heights feels like a perfect map to bring back from Splatoon. It’s large, it’s got lots of different vantage points and places to explore, and it’s pretty darn hard to spawn camp on. The center might need to be expanded a smidge to allow for more action there, but I think this would be a great map for Splatoon 2.

Hammerhead Bridge:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 1 Narrow Obstructed, Moderate Lots No

Forget the map details for a moment: It’s been two years since Splatoon, so shouldn’t this stupid bridge be finished by now? The spawn point is set too far from the map’s branching paths (making spawn camping a concern), the center is not open or conducive to massive battles, and its size is due to its length more than its width. I never liked this map, and with any luck I’ll never have to deal with it again.

Museum D’Alfonsino:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 3 Wide Open, Moderate Lots Yes

Its dynamic qualities are a strike against it, but I still think this map is a good candidate to return. It’s got the wide open design that Splatoon 2 craves, there’s some decent verticality and lots of little places to explore, and its side paths make spawn camping fairly difficult. I certainly wouldn’t object to seeing this map come back in the future.

Mahi-Mahi Resort:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
Yes 3 Wide Open, Large Moderate No

Mahi-Mahi takes map dynamism to the extreme, with half the center left underwater until halfway through the match. It’s got a lot of the qualities Splatoon 2 wants (wide open design, decent spawn camp difficulty), but having the map change this drastically during play is probably a (Hammerhead) bridge too far for this game. You could potentially remove the dynamism and just make the map large from the start, but that would remove some of the resort’s uniqueness and hurt its appeal to longtime fans. Unless some of these other changing maps return and signal a shift in map philosophy, I’d say this one doesn’t come back.

Piranha Pit:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 2 Wide Open, Large Moderate No

My favorite thing about Piranha Pit was that it was a big map that played small due to its spawn camp placement. However, Splatoon 2 tends to favor interaction/conflict between the teams, and having large side areas where players can disappear for sixty seconds and never see the opposition doesn’t match the game’s philosophy. Throw in the moving platforms and large center structure that divide the map, and it doesn’t seem to be a good fit for Splatoon 2. (Dear Nintendo: Please prove me wrong and bring this map back!)

Ancho-V Games:

Static? Paths From Spawn* Layout Center Verticality Returning?
No 3 Wide Open, Large Moderate Yes

Despite there being no comparable feature in Splatoon 2 multiplayer to this map’s propeller lifts, I could totally see Ancho-V make a return in the future. It’s a Reef-sized map with plenty of spawn paths, and the moving platforms help to make up for the lack of terrain features in the map center. I think this makes a late-game debut similar to how it appeared in Splatoon.

Of course, Nintendo could prove me wrong and just re-release everything in the next year or so, but they seem to be shooting for a specific multiplayer experience in Splatoon 2, and not every Splatoon map can clear this bar. Still, another five maps from the original game would placate longtime fans and introduce new ones to the joys that Wii U players have known since the beginning.