Splatoon 2 ‘Gherkin’ Splatfest is over, and I’m in a pickle…

Over the weekend I played in my first ever Splatfest. For those of you that like to pick sides, and enjoy the thrill of the win – as with life, Team Gherk-OUT (burgers without gherkins) won handsomely. Everyone knows gherkins remove the handsome.

Now for the disclaimer: I am bad at Splatoon 2. Join us on Tuesday night to find out just how bad, but as a reference, think of the absolute best player you know of, think of all the techniques they use, skills they have… okay got someone in mind? Well, I do the exact opposite that that player would do, always. All being said and done though, I had fun this weekend. I was well matched on most matches and did not get annihilated by players in every round – which in my book is outstanding. However, the fest was not without its glitches – in fact, at one point I could not log in because some sort of server maintenance was happening.

In fact, I was not surprised that shortly after this pretty substantial bad news, Nintendo quickly announced some news which I know will make many Splatoon fans rather happy. Not only will there be a new stage coming soon called the Goby Arena, a new paint dispensing tool will be coming too, Dark Tetra Dualies:

However, the big news, I am told is that two new Amiibo will be on their way too:

Now as you can probably tell, I am not a real expert in the Splatoon 2 ‘field’. I am trying to get into it. However, lately, I find myself in a bit of a quandary… a pickle you could say. See what I did there? Anyway… You see, one of the things I love about Nintendo is the idea that their games are easy enough for beginners to get into but complex enough that mastering them takes some serious gaming skill. In my opinion, Mario Kart 8 (Deluxe) and Super Mario Odyssey are excellent examples of this concept in action.  Start off with Smart-Steering and Auto-accelerate on, and the kart’s in MK8 virtually drive themselves. No, seriously:

Then, Super Mario Odyssey in ‘Assist Mode’ is possibly the best game if you want to get someone new into gaming. However, both these games also have some ridiculously talented expert players. 99 999-point online racers, and speedrunners that are some of the most skilled players you’ll ever see. So the range exists, and in fact, is encouraged.

Now, I know this will be unpopular, but I feel that is where Splatoon 2 lacks a little something. Now I know this is a ridiculously popular game. In Japan, it is MASSIVE. And like I have mentioned, once you get into it, it’s actually really fun. However, there is a barrier-to-entry that I found to be quite unique for a Nintendo product that I suspect, although targeted initially at slightly more experienced gamers, is still partially aimed at the general Nintendo crowd. A crowd that with the Switch, now encompasses your mom, dad, gran, and the neighbour you have that has never touched a video game.

So that being the case I found the game weirdly lacking in direction. Too often we complain that games hold our hands too much. Often these complaints are directed at Nintendo. So if that is the Gherk-OUT argument, I want to make a case for Gherk-IN. I want to ask them to hold my hand a little more. Too often I was lost as to what I should be doing and where I should be doing it. For example: When you start the game – where do you go? Did you know there was a single player mode? Did you know that to find this single player mode you have to follow the inkling on the top left-hand side of the plaza that disappears down a manhole as soon as you get close? Sometimes, before you even see her? Do you know how to join an online game with friends? Do you know the secret button combination that enables a LAN game? Do you know that you start a locally networked game in a whole different area? How do you join the Splatfest? Did you know it was in an area before the online lobby zone? Oh, and Salmon Run – do you know where that is? What do the different ranked-battle types entail?

These are all the questions I have had while playing the game. I know that some players will have found the answers to these questions pretty quickly. Some may have not even asked the questions in the first place. However, I play games. I love games. True I didn’t play Splatoon 1, and in general, I don’t usually play this type of game. But again and again, I have found myself asking other more experienced Splatoon 2 players questions that I thought should’ve been obvious. Again and again, I just wanted to be led – “This is where you go online, here is the single-player section…”. Some of us Inkling Noobs need some help! Even make it optional, so it doesn’t bug more experienced players. Surely, it’s better than forcing us through Marina and Pearl’s Off The Hook speech every time?

It’s strange that in a time where both Zelda and Mario titles have flourished in a more open world where exploration is encouraged and not being told where to go is what I have loved, for Splatoon 2 I just want to be told how to do, whatever it is I am supposed to be doing. I know that’s weird, but is it any weirder than weird child-squid hybrids?

Nintendo Nerd, sharing my love of Mario with the world one pixel at a time.

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