I wrote a piece a while back about what I thought the big Nintendo games for 2015 were going to be. On the list were Star Fox Wii U, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and of course, Legend of Zelda Wii U…which is now delayed.
As an honorable mention on that list, I put Splatoon. Splatoon is on there because I thought it had the potential to be a big game, but noted it might not happen.
As if I incited some incident, fans started asking me “Why was Splatoon just an honorable mention?” or “How can Splatoon not be one of the big 2015 games? I’m looking forward to it!” I read comment and comment, and started to wonder if I had underestimated Splatoon. As more information and videos continued to flow I realized that this might not just be the next great Nintendo game, Splatoon could be the beginning of a beautiful new Nintendo franchise.
So, allow me to state why I think Splatoon could be the next big Nintendo franchise.
3. It’s Nothing Nintendo Has Done Before
Never underestimate the power Nintendo jumping into the pool for the first time. Part of what has made Nintendo successful is their ability to take genres they’ve never done before and put their own spin on it. Franchises that we associate with Nintendo now were at one time nothing more than Nintendo trying to make something fun out of what’s already been done.
What’s Pikmin but a take on the RTS genre? Or how about Brain Age? Wii Sports? Super Smash Bros.? Mario Kart? All were just a stab at putting a unique twist on a pre-existing genre, and with Splatoon, Nintendo is attempting to make lightning strike once again.
When Splatoon was revealed at E3 2014, it was a jaw-dropping experience. Nintendo doing an online-multiplayer focused game? 4-on-4 combat? Using paint to claim territory? Kids turning into an octopus? Say what!?!? This was a sight to behold. And as we saw more, we wanted more!
Nintendo then did this genre one better, they added more unique customization to make the game even more special. Unique weapons, the ability to change your Inkling’s appearance, play the game how you want to. It was a revelation. Even the look is special. True, Nintendo has done flashy games in the past and the bright color scheme is nothing new for them. But they know how to use color effectively, and the unique look of the Inklings themselves makes this a game that’ll easily fit into the Nintendo roster.
Sometimes all it takes is an inkling an idea to make something great. “Hey, let’s make an online team based territory battle game!”
They did it, and no matter what happens, it’s going to be unique.
2. Fans Want To Play It
Another obvious notion, but again, one that shouldn’t go without mentioning. What is a game without gamers playing it? Answer, either not a good game or a game no one knows about. Both of which can lead to the game never going beyond its first title. With Splatoon, gamers know about it and based on what they’re hearing, they’re going to love it. Thus, they want to play it, and they want to play it now.
This actually helps Splatoon out in a big way, as this game is meant to be driven by the online community. Sure, Smash Bros. and Mario Kart have a heavy online influence, but you can also play with friends at home, or have a long single-player career as well. With Splatoon though, even with a single-player campaign meant to help train you, Nintendo is focused on giving gamers 4v4 battles that’ll never feel dull. And if a bunch of gamers want to play? Then you’ll rarely have to worry about having to find something to tag-team with.
Hype is what makes games anticipated. If a gamer likes something, they’ll tell a friend, and if that person likes it, they’ll tell another, and another, and another. Splatoon has the hype because fans are so excited about it that they’re spreading the good word.
1. Potential To Be Even Greater
Let’s look at Mario and The Legend of Zelda for a moment. These are two franchises that launched in the early days of Nintendo and have lasted 30+ years. Why? The difference between a single influential title and a long-lasting franchise is potential and the company’s ability to capitalize on that.
With Splatoon, an instant plus for it being a possible long-lasting franchise is replayability. Think about it, what made Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. get sequel entries? Fans desire to replay the game with bigger and better improvements. But it all started with the fact that they played those games for a very long time. Splatoon has that potential.
Mainly, it’s so innovative in how the gameplay works that you would literally have to try extremely hard to play the same way twice; not that you’d want to of course. Between the human element of both your partners and your foes, the levels themselves, and the constantly shifting paradigm of who’s controlling the most territory, there is a lot of replay potential here.
There’s also the fact that we more than likely don’t know everything that’s in the game. Yes, we know about the Inklings, some of the levels, some of the modes, and of course the Single-Player, but something tells me that Nintendo has something else up their sleeve. After all, it is Nintendo. This alone gives numerous possibilities for expansion and potential. What modes could be put in this version and then built upon? What ideas could fans have based upon these modes that Nintendo could use? These questions and more could decided how many games Splatoon gets in the future.
Also, there’s the DLC question. Nintendo doesn’t do much DLC per se, but they have been getting better at it. Mewtwo is getting added to Smash Bros. as a DLC character. Mario Kart 8 has had numerous DLC additions, from new characters and rides, to new tracks to race upon. The best example is probably Hyrule Warriors, where they constantly received new costumes, weapons, and even new story missions based on the perspective of the villains of the story. So what could Nintendo do with Splatoon?
That is the tricky question because with many DLC packages, the question becomes, “Why didn’t they just add this in the first place?” So it’d have to be fun, and subtle, and more than likely free. An easy DLC would be more gear for the Inklings to wear, like Nintendo apparel for characters. Maybe add more Amiibo support (as there isn’t any announced at present…) and have the outfits of the Amiibo’s be available for the Inklings to wear into battle. Or how about special Nintendo weapons with a Splatoon twist? Like how about F.L.U.U.D from Super Mario Sunshine? Or a modified Gust Bellows from Skyward Sword? Fun, fun fun!
Now of course, if Splatoon succeeds, it needs somewhere to go, and more importantly, to grow. After all, if a game is good but the developer puts all their eggs in one basket, then players will be left with a single great experience, and not a franchise in and of itself. So what should Nintendo do here? Do they try and wow us with overflowing content? Or do they focus on just making Splatoon epic? The answer is both.
There should be enough content to keep Splatoon replayable for awhile. One could argue they actually already have that between the modes, levels, weapons, and customization. But then they have to make sure it’s refined, and enjoyable, and not too hard to learn. Splatoon has the potential to be a game that both hardcore Nintendo fans, and casual gamers will enjoy. If Splatoon is easy to learn, easy to play, easy to get games going, people will flock to it.
So once that’s established, then they go full force on what to add to Splatoon 2 and possibly beyond. New modes, new weapons, levels that boggle the mind, new abilities for the Inklings, etc. For example, on gameplay modes we could see in the sequel, Splatoon is (at present) meant to be 4v4 gameplay. But…what if it could be 2v2? Tag-Team Domination Mode! Or how about 1v1? Paint Duel! See? The potential is there.
Finally, if it really wanted to go to the route of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros, it could go to a Nintendo handheld for another game.
Yes, I’m serious. Nintendo now has a presence when it comes to online modes of gaming; especially in regards to Super Smash Bros. (who’s recent handheld is currently outselling the main console version) and Mario Kart. They know how to make it work. So a Splatoon handheld game is not out of the realm of possibility. Especially if they use a sequel to tie into the original, allowing you to transfer your Wii U Inkling to your 3DS, similar to what they did with Smash Bros. And with it being on handheld, you can now do paint wars anywhere! Add in some epic 3D depth, maybe a first-person viewing mode to make the experience more in your face, and you get an instant 3DS classic.
Nintendo has an interesting history when it comes to games. The Nintendo fanboys and fangirls want the titles they love: The Marios, the Zeldas, the Metroids (you hear that Nintendo?!?!), the Pokemons, and more. Yet after a while, they want Nintendo to strive for more, to make a new franchise to add to their already robust roster.
Nintendo heard us, and they wanted to please us, so they made Splatoon. And if it goes like I think it will…we’ll be seeing a LOT more Splatoon in the future.