In this edition of Behind The Game we look at the sequel that many say isn’t a sequel to one of the surprise hits of the past few years: Splatoon 2!
Revealed January 12th at the Nintendo Switch Event in Japan, showcasing the game, new hub area and characters. Response was positive, with lingering suspicion that it wasn’t unique enough or much of an upgrade over the original from 2015.
Playable at Nintendo Switch events worldwide leading up to the launch of the console, where feedback was positive, ringing along the lines of “It’s definitely Splatoon”, albeit most focus was on the hardware.
Late March brought the Splatoon 2 Global Testfire, following the trend from the original in creating a stress test in the guise of a playable demo for a weekend. This led to feedback directly from a wider range of fans on weapons and presented a limited taste of the game. This was later followed immediately before launch with a Splatfest World Premiere demo, acting as another stress test and highlighting the unique community battles aspect of the franchise, immediately before launch.
The game was also highlighted in Nintendo Directs, first as a follow-up to a more general game showcase that focused heavily on ARMS, a new IP, and Splatoon 2, which was pushed as a duet of main events, highlighting the pulling power of the franchise.
There was later a full ARMS direct with a Splatoon 2 Story Mode teaser at the end, once again highlighting the two being marketed in tandem, and the promise of the game being used to push a new product.
Finally, a full Splatoon 2 direct aired showing the new hosts, story mode, weapons, update plans, Splatfest plans, and laying out the roadmap and what to expect over two years with the game, as well as new modes and features. This followed on from a large E3 showing highlighting the changes and promise of Splatoon 2 as a competitive spectator sport, with a live tournament of some of the best Squid Squads from around the globe.
Right up to and after launch, consistent TV spots were played worldwide, highlighting the game to the general consumer, along with other multiplayer titles for the summer.
Critically Splatoon 2 fared well. Most loved the game, albeit the lingering feeling of not being fresh enough stayed, both visually and in terms of gameplay, as well as some nagging aspects that could have been better. This general response is an interesting change on the original which said there wasn’t enough content at launch, but the game was a shock the genre needed, and felt addictive to play, holding enough quick-fire gameplay in its matches to warrant returning again and again.
With the content roadmap clearly laid out, critically the game had less focus on amount of content overall, but how much was new, however, in very few cases did that seem to detract from the game being fun, and a general air of don’t fix what isn’t broken surrounds the game.
In the eyes of fans, Splatoon 2 faced much of the same backlash. Visually similar, with the differences early on being visible only side by side. The feeling that it wasn’t worthy of being a sequel lingered right until launch, when new information was pumped out, showing the freshness of this new title in the now series.
Post-launch the feeling changed, and the game is generally loved, though some fans of the original who played considerable amounts of the game, seem to feel a bit of burn out. Criticism is still levelled at how the game handles aspects like matchmaking and stages, and a lack of wholly original content, but the experience has been received as fun and again, just like with critics, an air of don’t fix what isn’t broken.
Despite being on a system only a few months old at the time of launch, compared to its predecessor, with less total users to possible sell to on launch, Splatoon 2 trounced the original game sales in both the UK and Japan. This shocked many detractors who, like with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, believed that being so soon after the original, who would buy it? This again stems from the “Undeserving sequel” stance many took with the game, however, just like with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is already on its way to best its predecessor commercially, with over 3.6 million copies by the end of September 2017.
As an evergreen title, with a content roadmap of 2 years and long life ahead of that for general play, as well as a blossoming competitive scene, Splatoon 2 is one of the shocks of the decade, from a new IP in a genre Nintendo never touched, to a hit on Wii U (Even with its low sales), to a sequel that is already on track to best it’s predecessor and live a long life on Switch. The future of the brand is clear, though the confidence in Splatoon 2 from its reveal, mirrors the found confidence after the reveal of the original, an idea that is fun, and works well, that proves the series can grow and reach even more people within the genre, and the inevitable Splatoon 3 will be a hit on Switch or whatever is next, as the franchise cements itself as both a system seller and crowd pleaser.
As always if you enjoyed this article be sure to leave some comments below letting us know what you think of Splatoon 2 as a package, and share this article with all your friends! Until next time!