Today we’re taking extra time out to talk Nintendo–mostly Splatoon. Nintendo won 2014’s E3, but how do those promises look one year later? Between hard-to-find Amiibo and adorable squids/kids, it’s a mixed bag.
Transcript under the cut!
STACEY: Hello and welcome back to the Push to Smart Water Cooler. Last time we looked at what we wanted for this year’s E3, and today we’re going to look back at last year’s E3, when Nintendo brought everything to the table. We want to see what delivered on, what we loved, what we didn’t, and maybe what they might do this year.
STACEY: Splatoon, am I right?
JAYLEE: Splatoon has been rocking our world.
JAYLEE: And I have nothing negative to say about it, other than sometimes you’ll come across some creepy art.
STACEY: (laughs) I haven’t had that happen a lot, but I have had some connection issues and I know you had a lot of connection issues getting started.
JAYLEE: I did.
STACEY: My only problems were I sometimes—and I still sometimes—I have a connection lost error and I just get kicked out of a match. I know you couldn’t play for a whole day when you first started and then there’s been some issues trying to get into games with friends. So like one time we just tried to play together… Which I think there’ve been some complaints against the game that you can’t just say, I want to play on my friends’ team. Which I’m okay with that. The only mode available, which is the turf war, is set up that it invites these really quick matches where you want to play on different people’s team. It’s not necessarily about sticking with the same people, it’s just about having fun and getting experience with other people.
JAYLEE: I actually really like that because in one game you’re going to be against people and you might, like, end up hating a certain player…
STACEY: Yeah. (laughs)
JAYLEE: Because they keep killing you, but then the next game they’re on your team, so you have to work together. So it kind of keeps you from holding grudges for too long.
JAYLEE: Which I think is really cool change of pace.
STACEY: Yeah, it’s something I wanted to bring up too. I think they’ve gone a long way to change the language of the shooter, to be less about violence against other people and more just about having fun. The very basics, just vernacular of the game. Things like you say “splat” instead of “killed.” That you have… Even thought you know who was the perpetrator when you are “splatted” it doesn’t say, you know, “Splat by Jaylee,” it says “Splat by [weapon].” So that doubles A) to make it so hopefully so Jaylee isn’t necessarily at fault in your eyes, even though he kind of is…
JAYLEE: Yeah. (laughs)
STACEY: And B) that you also learn like, oh that weapon was really cool, maybe I’ll try that one next time. The fact that the battles are so quick and that you’re constantly changing teams, you never have room for a grudge. You might have a playful competitive kind of relationship with someone in one game but then you’ll be on the same team the next game. So it really goes a long way to change that language, that idea of what makes a shooter and kind of redefines shooter culture. Which is nice! I’ve never played online with strangers as much as I have played in Splatoon. And I’ve really enjoyed it.
JAYLEE: Especially in an enjoyable way. (laughs)
STACEY: Yeah. (laughs) Usually it’s like, to try a game, it’s like, okay, never doing that again! (laughs)
JAYLEE: Never ever ever ever. Yeah. And I also just love how I can kind of ignore the other players and I can just paint things.
JAYLEE: I don’t know if it’s just my OCD talking, but just being able to completely cover a surface in a color is so rewarding for me. (laughs)
JAYLEE: I don’t know, it’s just I’m having so much fun with it and I feel like, in a lot of ways with shooters, especially like competitive online shooters…
JAYLEE: You kind of end up getting in these ruts where you’re just doing the same thing, going through the motions. But this I feel like I can vary what I’m doing each round and still be doing my best. It’s just so fun and joyous. I just…
JAYLEE: Love everything about it. It’s just so odd.
STACEY: It has a lot a character.
JAYLEE: It has so much character and it’s just… It’s so positive.
STACEY: It is!
JAYLEE: Even when I lose, I’m like, that’s fine. I’m gonna play another round.
STACEY: And I think part of it is because they’re so short but it is… It’s just, the language of it is so relentlessly positive. Like, in a lot of competitive gaming spaces it’s a lot about tearing the other person down to the point that trash talk and stuff becomes part of the culture. And even when it’s horribly offensive, becomes fiercely defended. And this is making this a space where it’s like, no, you don’t need that.
STACEY: You know, we can still have fun. You can play there but… It really doesn’t need chat. I’ve read some pieces arguing for it, but it doesn’t really need it. It’s a simple enough game with room to kind of master it…
STACEY: That you can figure out how to move in those spaces without having to talk to somebody. Or trash talk them.
STACEY: It’s just such a welcome change. But I think one of the things we were most excited about going into E3 last year, and then were excited about coming out of it was the amiibo announcement.
JAYLEE: Yes. (laughs)
STACEY: Which, how did that turn out? (laughs)
JAYLEE: I don’t know, Stacy, how did that turn out for you?
STACEY: I started out I just wanted my princess Zelda. And it’s like, oh, you know, I should get Link since he’s available now. Oh, but Samus, there’s Samus there. I should get her ‘cause there’s a lot people buying it up. I don’t want to miss out.
STACEY: Oh look, Yoshi. I’ll need that for Yoshi’s Wooly World. And now I have a lot.
STACEY: (laughs) And we both waited in line for the most recent launch. So you’ve just got your first amiibo.
JAYLEE: Yes, thanks to you.
JAYLEE: I got to Target when it opened. And the Inklings are adorable so I want them, and then they literally sold out right before me. And so I was like, oh, okay. And then I just started texting you and you’re like, “It’s okay, I’ve got like three other stores to go to.
JAYLEE: “I’ll get you inklings.”
STACEY: Yeah, I didn’t even have to stand in line. Like, I got in line at a GameStop by my house like two minutes before it opened. And by “line” I mean me and my dog. That was it.
STACEY: And we walked in. I got my little Inklings and then I had like seven text messages in a row from you. (laughs)
STACEY: That were like, “I hate everything. They sold out in front of me.” (laughs) So it’s like, okay there’s another GameStop.
STACEY: And I got to that one and I got you one. But, one thing that was brought up on our post-E3 video last year, where we’re like, “Yeah, Nintendo!”: amiibo could potentially gatekeep content, which could be problematic for future Nintendo games. Which I think Splatoon is the first example we really see of that. But it’s like, not especially compelling content. It’s basically the same levels you originally played just replaying them with different weapons and you get costumes with them. Though I haven’t tried it yet, but I wonder if you can just get the sea urchin guy to just make it for you.
JAYLEE: Yeah, I’m not sure.
STACEY: So I’m not sure how porous the gate is. (laughs)
STACEY: I don’t know, it does set a precedent.
JAYLEE: The problem that I’ve been having with amiibo is that they’re not assessable…
JAYLEE: Like, at all. Like, whenever they come out with one that I really want, it sells out in seconds. They’re rationing them out and I just feel really bad for kids who want to get figures of their favorite characters.
JAYLEE: And they can’t because some jerkwad bought like a thousand Rosalina’s to sell on eBay because he hates Rosalina.
JAYLEE: And Nintendo keeps saying, “We know this is a problem; we’re going to address this,” but they haven’t said anything concrete about it. And they mentioned that they’re going to do sort of amiibo card or something.
STACEY: Oh yeah, I saw that with the new Animal Crossing game.
STACEY: Which I’m not sure if I understand, ‘cause also I want real amiibo for Animal Crossing. Isabel’s adorable.
JAYLEE: Nine times out of ten, it’s not the functionality that people want out of the amiibo, it’s the cute little figure that they want. So doing the card substitution, I just… It just seems like a cop-out and I just think that they should print more or do a print-on-demand kind of thing.
JAYLEE: I don’t know. It just frustrates me.
STACEY: The card thing kind of speaks to the gatekeeping worry. And the fact that they do think that there’s valuable content locked behind these amiibo, and they want to guarantee people will have that. But again, it’s like, I don’t care about the samurai costume you get in Splatoon. I want the cute squid people. That’s what I want.
STACEY: And I don’t know if that’s something they’re going to address at E3, but I feel like they kind of have to. It’s the elephant in the room.
JAYLEE: I just keep thinking about beenie babies.
JAYLEE: Because that’s the time I was raised in, and it’s like, I’ve seen this happen and no good comes from it.
JAYLEE: (laughs) The one thing that we were promised last year that I was really excited for and I’m really bummed about is that we’re not getting a Legend of Zelda in 2015. And we’re not even seeing it at E3 this year either.
STACEY: Yeah. I know, now… It was one of those things like, we only got a very small glimpse of it and it looked beautiful, but had some really big promises. So I’d much rather they come out early and say, “You know we’re not going to have it ready this year. We’re just pushing back. It’s okay. We’re not even going to show anything because we know it’s not ready.” I’d much rather them do that than have another Last Guardian. Where it’s like, oh yeah we’re working on it.
JAYLEE: (laughs) Yeah.
STACEY: Or an Assassin’s Creed Unity where they just push out when it’s clearly not ready.
JAYLEE: Yeah, and Nintendo’s usually pretty good at holding things until they’re ready. So yeah, really the two biggest things to come out of E3 last year were the amiibo and Splatoon. And…
JAYLEE: Very mixed, because amiibo has had such a rocky year, while Splatoon just came out of the gate triumphant and… Memes and it’s just amazing, so…
JAYLEE: I’m hoping more Splatoon this year, less amiibo.
STACEY: I am curious. Splatoon—because we talked about how there’s so much character—it feels like with Nintendo kind of strengthening their portfolio and allowing other people to play in their sandbox a little bit more now, with the expansion the theme parks, their mobile, I’m wondering if Splatoon will expand to other mediums. Either like a mobile game or like a cartoon even. ‘Cause it just seems like there’s so much that… That world is packaged in such a way that it can go anywhere from here. And I wonder if this might be a little bit too soon and hear, but I wonder if we’ll be seeing more cross-promotion stuff like that too.
JAYLEE: So now we’re wondering, what Nintendo promise were you most looking forward to last year? Did they deliver? Let us know in the comments below, and of course don’t forget to subscribe to keep up to date with all of our latest episodes and water cooler discussions.