Splatoon sequel ideas

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2016 by 87th

splatoon concept art
I will write what I want to write, thank you very much.
Here are some things Nintendo could do in a Splatoon sequel-

We don’t really have a full idea of what the NX is yet, but it seems to comprise of a dedicated home system and traditional handheld that will work together in some way. I’m not sure if they’re making the same games playable on both systems, or if they’ve got some new take on this idea, but I’m sure Splatoon 2 will exist in some form on both systems. This is interesting because it could split the game into two forms, taking advantage of the unique benefits of both home consoles and handhelds. This is essentially what Nintendo were experimenting with in the last Super Smash Bros. Splatoon held back on local multiplayer so they wouldn’t have to cut back on how processor-intensive the core game was. With handhelds, this isn’t a problem, since every player is holding a CPU in their hands. This is what the handheld version could focus on. Smaller, adaptable maps designed to make games as exciting with fewer players. The home version could focus on a more intense single-player, bigger online games, and more features overall. Customization and upgrades are a big part of Splatoon, and splitting a user profile between two games gives players more opportunity to earn money, level up and customize characters. If I’m on the ball with this NX prediction, I think this should be a primary focus in designing the next game.

Splatoon’s multiplayer was all about symmetry. Symmetrically sized teams of equal ability on symmetrical maps. It’s an elegant, tidy way to balance things and make the game quicker to learn. It’s also a bit predictable and limiting to the game’s design. I think a lot could be done with wilder maps, stranger weapons and varied teams with balanced pros and cons to every unique characteristic. It’s a hard thing to get as perfect as the rest of the game, but limit these things to distinct optional modes within the multiplayer, perhaps with handicaps to stronger teams, and I think you could have something that adds a lot of value to the game.

More environmental tools and gimmicks-
Splatoon’s single player mode was filled with ideas that could have transitioned into the multiplayer, but were left out. Big balloons of ink to burst, wee roomba things that cleaned ink off walls, the zipline things, big cannon things you could use. Loads of that stuff. You can work that stuff into the multiplayer. Easy idea. These people can design good, clever levels, and I doubt adding these components in an interesting way would be much of a challenge for them.

Change the map rotation system-
I’m not saying get rid of it. I’ll defend the map rotation system as an interesting concept with a flawed execution. Switching up your customisation to what’s available to play is an idea with potential, and I’m happy to see it explored further. But I think a two-map rotation is awfully limited. I think putting all the best modes on a single rotation is frustrating when you want to play a specific mode. I think the system needs some drastic changes, and I’m surprised they haven’t already been made to the Wii U game in an update. Either give us more access to content within a single play session, or present the available content in a better way. Make changing character set-ups less of a hassle. Counterstrike and Call of Duty let you load and save different customisation set-ups before matches, and I think it would be a huge advantage to Splatoon.

Make Splatfests better-
Splatfests are a brilliant idea. They bring a lot of attention to the game, and the laughably trivial themes to vote on are a great way to start daft, silly arguments between people. People who don’t even play the game get involved. Actually taking part in the Splatfests seems a bit of an anticlimax in contrast to the fun surrounding them. Players are stuck on three maps on the game’s most basic mode for a full 24 hours, with a fairly bland reward. This isn’t how it should be. I appreciate that keeping the games in Turf War mode means every player can take part, but I don’t think locking off the other modes to longtime players really adds much to the sense of community or occasion when matchmaking is still an aspect anyway. Can’t we compete in different events? Like the Olympics? Yeah, that’s good. Like, every 3 months or so we could have an Olympics-style Splatfest across several modes? That’s maybe a little too specific, but I think it’s a fair pitch for the kind of thing that could make these events more exciting. We should be given a reason to remember old Splatfests. Can we at least keep our t-shirts?

Make rank levels mean something-
Currently in Splatoon, I’m still about level 30ish. I’m an A rank, but my level is still relatively low, because I haven’t been given a reason to care about it. Once you’re at a high enough level to play in ranked matches, it stops meaning anything. Now, I don’t think this is an entirely bad thing. A lot of online shooters tie weapon and ability unlocks to ranks, which incentivizes leveling up, but also weighs the odds against new or casual players. I think there’s an obvious solution here – Tie rewards to levels, but make them frivolous, cosmetic things. Clothes unlocks and stickers and things. Maybe you could change your results screen animations? Maybe high levels could get the same unlocks that are typically tied to amiibo? I think people would appreciate not having to buy a toy for that stuff.

Further explore the setting and characters-
One of the most charming and bizarre aspects of the original Splatoon was its setting and fictional history. The fun fishy characters were given a comically dark context as post-apocalyptic evolutionary descendants of our modern day creatures. I often feel concerned for the future of unfashionable animals so, I really liked that Splatoon gave kids a reason to get excited about mollusks and weird floaty things. Though the original did an impressive amount of this stuff, the mythology is some of the most obviously fertile territory for expanding on in a sequel. Wouldn’t it be good if they could really tie the single-player campaign to a story that felt interesting, relevant, and charming? Wouldn’t that be like Nintendo at their best? Aye.

More minigames-
A nice wee touch in the original were the GamePad minigames you could play while loading new matches. They were fairly insubstantial, and purposefully so. You didn’t really feel like you’d been interrupted from anything important when a new game started. Just silly wee time wasters when you actively want that time to be wasted. It’s the kind of thing a sequel could overlook, but one that it would be a shame to lose. It also lets Nintendo have a stab at stupid, shallow mobile-style games, and I quite like giving them the space to do something a bit crap without annoying anyone. Just please don’t make them amiibo exclusives this time.

More sea-creature inspired nonsense-
I touched on this a little bit previously, and it’s something that will almost inevitably happen in a Splatoon sequel, but I think it’s a fun idea and one that should be explored. Big stupid fish things. Just, like, I don’t know, a shark, erm, train, or something. A big dolphin who’s, like, a mayor or something. Cod doctors. Eel knees. We’re all on board now, so you can go really stupid with this stuff.

Play up on how beloved the Squid Sisters are-
This is very important. Splatoon launched with a million charming wee ideas, and the team didn’t really know what fans would gravitate towards. Callie and Marie are the big thing. Everyone loves them, and that works to the setting’s favour. They’re pop idols. Everyone’s supposed to love them. In Splatoon, they’re relegated to a few small jobs. I hope to see them do much more in a sequel. I want an in-game TV with variety show appearances. I want concerts to be going on next to outdoor maps. I want them to turn the Squidmas lights on. I want a lot of Callie and Marie in Splatoon 2. And see the secret agents in the original game’s single player mode? I want them right involved in the new campaign. Put them in the levels. This is what I want the most.

Possible 2016 highlights

Posted in Uncategorized on January 1, 2016 by 87th

What do we have to look forward to this year, then?

star fox zero
Star Fox Zero
A bit of a concern. The game seemed planned for a very quick development cycle, with only a very vague proof of concept version of the game existing at its initial announcement in 2014. It’s since been briefly delayed, due to Miyamoto’s disappointment with the work. Reactions from people who have played the game haven’t been terribly encouraging either, with most seeming frustrated at the controls and underwhelmed by the game’s very traditional aesthetic. Still, Nintendo were keen to put a lot of attention on the title at E3, and building on the brilliance of the N64 game is the best angle for Platinum to approach this from. Maybe this will be brilliant, despite the concerns?

twilight princess hd in game
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD
Maybe the least exciting of the recent series of Zelda remakes, since it seems to have the least differences from the original, problematic game. Twilight Princess had serious pacing issues and a distinct lack of charm when compared to other games in the series, and it’s unclear if the HD version intends to address any of this. All we know is it looks better than the Wii version, and there’s some form of amiibo support, so there’s definitely some changes, but we haven’t really been told about any of them yet. It’ll be curious to see how well this comes out.

Sonic the Hedgehog 25th Anniversary game

Safe bet – This will be pish.
Risky bet – Maybe it’ll be Generations 2, and at least be a guilty pleasure.

Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom

Or “Monster World V”, if you prefer. Unlicensed by Sega, but boasting the involvement of original series creator, Ryuichi Nishizawa, this is essentially the new Monster World sequel that’s been in his mind for two decades. The new trailer reveals some interesting ideas, and a few carry-overs from the previous games. I really loved Monster World IV when I played it a few years ago, and saw it as a Mega Drive platforming equivalent of A Link to the Past, but it’s unclear if French indie devs, Game Atelier, are worthy of its legacy.

project session screen
A risky one, and unlikely to be a 2016 release, too. This is an indie skateboarding game that hasn’t even launched its Kickstarter campaign yet, but early footage looks very promising. Like a new Skate game, but even more focused on a simulation-style experience. There’s not even a scoring system. It’ll be interesting to see how the developers intend to make a full game out of this, but it’s still unclear whether they’ll even be able to release it. Call me cautiously optimistic about this.

A Hat in Time
An old Kickstarter project that most seem to have forgotten about, but it looks like its finally wrapping up development. Heavily piggybacking on the appeal of Rare’s N64 platformers, this is a collection-based 3D platformer in open, non-linear levels. These games are messy at the best of times, but often charming and fun despite a lack of focus. The buzz from beta testers is positive. Maybe this could turn into a wee hidden gem.

The main reason nobody talks about A Hat in Time anymore. This is actually coming from ex-Banjo Kazooie developers, and pretty much intends to be a sequel to Banjo Tooie. I’ve never really played much of the originals, but it’s hard to deny the warmth and passion of the developers for this project, and I’m quite confident they can produce something that will please a lot of people.

mighty no 9 in game
Mighty No. 9
People were pretty quick to change their tune on this one, weren’t they? Initially viewed as the Mega Man game Capcom wouldn’t make. Now, just a mess of game developers being sloppy publishers. The demo was fun though, and maybe this will turn out decent. They’ve certainly delayed it enough to indicate they’re interested in making a quality product.

Starr Mazer

Maybe the most impressive of all these crowd-funded games. A stylish point ‘n’ click with shmup stuff. Really good looking and good sounding. Dunno how well it’s actually going to play, of course, but it’s all looking fairly positive so far. Colour me hopeful.

Street Fighter V
It’s hard for me to get excited about Street Fighter V, but that’s mainly because the ongoing beta tests mean I’ve already played a fair chunk of it. I’m always intimidated by the idea of analysing fighting games, since the main audience for them seem to be much more familiar with the intricacies of each one than I am, but this seems fun. A bit more aggressive and distinctive than the fairly neutral Street Fighter IV, and speaking as a Third Strike fan, I’m into that. It’s just hard for me to drum up any real passion for it.

fire emblem fates
Fire Emblem Fates
I dearly loved Awakening, and was bowled over by how well designed it was, but I’m not too anxious to play the sequel. I think the biggest issue is that Awakening was far too big a game for me to ever get bored with it, and I didn’t even buy the paid DLC. I’m not really sure why we need a sequel on the same system. Maybe I’m dead wrong though.

yakuza 0 disco
Yakuza 0
There’s not many safe bets on this list, is there? Never mind. We’re getting an all Kazuma Kiryu/Goro Majima Yakuza game next year. Sure to be a much more focused game than 5 was, and I’m sure it’ll be interesting to explore an 80s Kamurocho. No idea whether the story will take a more serious tone to put it in line with the original game that it precedes, or if it’ll continue in the tradition of upping the ante. I’m just fairly certain that I’ll be happy when we get to play it.

Final Fantasy XV
Looks good. I don’t really know anything about it, though.

The Last Guardian
I think we’re getting it this time. I think Shadow of the Colossus is a great game, and ICO is an all-time classic, but I think the hype for this might be a little out of control. It’ll be a grand game, but it seems quite a lot like a direct mash-up of the two previous Team ICO games, and maybe a little less vital as a result of it. I’m sure it’ll be great, but I also think people might be getting a bit overexcited about it.

videoGaiden series 4
videoGaiden Series 4
Not a game, but very exciting game-related stuff. Rab and Ryan are working together again for the first time in years, to do seven new episodes of brilliant videoGaiden. My love for videoGaiden and consolevania has been a massive influence on me, and I’m delighted to see one of them is coming back. I’m hoping it can be just as strange and funny as it was at its prime.

zelda wii u
The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)
Here’s the one Nintendo have bet the farm on. The Wii U was announced on the back of tech demo footage of an HD Zelda, and fans have been desperate for one ever since. I’m really eager to see what’s been learned from A Link Between Worlds and Skyward Sword, and I’d love to see them make a true open world structure feel archetypically “Zelda”. It sounds like it could pull influence from all over the series. Hopefully, they’ve been very clever in making a full game out of this.

Nintendo NX

I’m going to risk it and say this isn’t coming out in 2016. We’ll at least get more of an idea of what it is, though. The rumour with the most weight behind it currently suggests that this will be a separate home console and handheld that can work as a pair. It’s an idea that’s been floating around for a while in a lot of different products that haven’t entirely taken off (the PocketStation, Dreamcast VMUs, Gamecube-GBA Link, etc.), but basing an entire company structure around it might give it the kind of push for it to really take off. It’s hard to say exactly what Nintendo would do with it, but I think the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash Bros might give some indication. Separate versions of the same basic game, designed to make use of each format’s strengths, that can work together in some form. It’s easy to think how this kind of thing would benefit Pokémon, or a new Splatoon game, with the handheld games focusing on smaller local-multiplayer meet-ups, and the home version focusing on big online matches, and experience levels carrying between both games. They could also incorporate their new mobile games into this. With development and art assets carried between both the handheld and home versions of a game, it might cut down on production. It’s a curious thing to consider, and might be a good way for Nintendo to connect with every kind of player.


Who knows how many of these will actually come out this year. Who knows if any of them will actually be remembered by this time next year. It seems increasingly premature to weigh up a year’s releases before E3. I think it’s safe to say some of these will be pretty good, though.

Review – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 – PlayStation 4

Posted in Uncategorized on December 31, 2015 by 87th

Tony Hawk's® Pro Skater™ 5_20151226231935

I’m not here to take the piss. THPS5 received scathing reviews upon initial release, and it seems it deserved them. YouTube’s covered in footage of the rotten launch version of THPS5, and commentators laughing their heads off at it. Apparently, Activision were pretty upset with how their big series revival title was widely perceived and have sent Robomodo back to release a huge patch. Now the patch is out, but the general impression left by the games launch is that it’s a terrible mess, so prices have dropped dramatically. It raises the question – Without bugs, what is THPS5, and should series fans pick it up in the January sales?

Let’s cut to the chase. THPS5 is nowhere near as bad now as the game that gained 2/10 reviews. Collision detection is as reliable as you can expect from the series, and the potentially infuriating “slam” mechanic can be assigned to a more deliberate command, so you don’t mess up your grinds by accidentally activating it. Fundamentally, THPS5 is now a real Tony Hawk’s game, and it does feel like it was modeled as a proper sequel to THPS4.

Some of the levels are heavily designed around ideas from previous games. Robomodo have been ambitious enough to include a “School III” here, as a sequel to the series’ best level. In reality, it feels more like a rejigged, more rectangular version of School II than a worthy successor to the levels from the first two games. There’s also The Bunker, which mixes parts of THPS1’s Warehouse and THPS2’s Hangar. These levels aren’t terribly exciting, but they’re also the best in the game by far.

There are levels, such as Mega Parks and The Berrics that are designed to feel like skateparks. They’re fine, I guess. They’re nothing special, but they’re levels in a skateboarding game, and they do the job. Then there’s Rooftops.

Tony Hawk's® Pro Skater™ 5_20151228230635

Rooftops is one of the worst things I’ve encountered in a game, and demonstrates the worst excesses THPS5 has to offer. Rooftops takes the form of several neighbouring skyscraper roofs. All different heights. Each rooftop focuses on a different kind of obstacle (ramps, rails, different kinds of ramps, different kinds of rails, etc). Flat, boring platforms you have to scramble to jump between, loads of death pits, and ugly, bland scenery. It’s a terrible level, but it’s tied to the near-mandatory use of a power-up. A double jump power-up. A platforming trope shoehorned into a skateboarding game as if it’s no big deal. But skateboarding doesn’t give you as much control over movement as you’d have in a platformer, so you’re supposed to use the new slam control to time your landings on rails and platforms. Then you’re supposed to work combos around these shit, forced mechanics to get through goals in a terrible level. It’s a joke, and it reflects so much of what THPS5 does wrong.

This isn’t a game that’s designed around its mechanics. It’s designed around defying them, for the sake of shallow novelty. It’s unnecessary. Regardless of how good a game it was, the only people getting excited about the idea of “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5” are dedicated fans of the decade-old entries in the series, who want to see a back-to-basics sequel. If they wanted to push in new directions, the branding is just a half-hearted attempt to draw attention to a game that hasn’t earned it. If they wanted to push the series in a new direction, that’s fine. Call it “Tony Hawk’s Stupid Idea” or whatever, though. Not THPS Five.

So much of THPS5 seems underthought and rushed. The always online thing? At best, it’s useless. At worst, it’s an irritation. The idea seems to be that you can get access to all of the game’s online modes within a Free Skate session. You select a mode or mission to attempt, and the game sends an invitation to the other people in the game to join your session. Effectively, this puts a little notification in everyone’s pause menu asking them if they’d like to interrupt their game to join a stranger’s. Except you never notice the notification when it’s been received, because you’ve been playing an attention-grabbing combo-based skateboarding game. And most of these invites are sent accidentally, due to each mission defaulting to the “play online” option when they’re highlighted. And 19 times out of 20 when I’ve attempted to accept a request, the host already abandoned the game.

Those kinds of issues with poorly designed menus persist throughout the game. If you want to change a level, you have to quit the game, return to the title screen, start a new game, and then choose from the list of levels. There’s two separate pause screens, with arbitrarily exclusive options on each one. There’s an upgrades system for each character, but upgrading a character again requires you to quit the game, return to the title screen and access a character select menu that’s separate from the main game. There’s also a separate character biography menu, that just tells you a bit about each real-life skateboarder, like a special feature on a DVD from 2001. There’s a cheap alternative to the traditional Create-a-Skater mode, but it involves selecting a character, and switching them for the customisable option, which lets you switch heads and bodies from a pile of unlockable comedy choices. It’s a little sub-menu that could be totally missed if you weren’t looking for it. There’s so many ideas that have been hastily added, and made their way into the retail release without any refinements. It’s the result of rushed development and disinterested publishers.

Tony Hawk's® Pro Skater™ 5_20151228232426

Some of the missions (yes, the game calls them that, so I’m calling them that) are so bad they’re surreal. Besides the typical score-based objectives, there’s also a few based around shooting targets by doing flip tricks. And some about pushing giants balls out of a pool. And some about using a power-up to change physical size without changing the speed or weight of your character. The developers don’t really seem to explore the typical skateboarding based objectives very much in designing these missions. There’s also a few collection-based missions, which were standard in the old games’ 2-minute career mode games, but without a time limit they’re not interesting. They’re just a tedious hidden item search, and they don’t feel like a good fit.

But despite all of these issues Tony Hawk’s 5 isn’t a bad game. Not nearly as bad as the reputation would have you think, anyway. It’s still a Tony Hawk game, and that legacy is definitely its saving grace. The manuals, grinds, reverts, wallrides and, yes, slams all work together quite elegantly to create a very adaptable combo system that allows for real creativity when getting points out of a level’s design. It’s a better system than in almost any other extreme sports IP. With so many games in the series, it’s easy to take THPS’ quality for granted, but even the most forgettable entries in the series that have stuck to the core mechanics are better than Evolution Skateboarding or Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX or Cool Boarders. Far fucking better than Shaun White Skateboarding. And with the new patch, THPS5 does justice to those old mechanics. You can play it like an old THPS game, and it’s fine, and if you’re into it, you can have fun on all but the very worst levels.

I wouldn’t recommend Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. It’s very clearly flawed. But see if you’re like me, and you’ve played the series to death, and you were a little heartbroken when you saw those initial reviews? And you were hopeful that they might be able to salvage something of the game with patches? And you’ve seen some decent prices for the game popping up in the post-Christmas sales? It’s safe to buy it now.


GOTY 2015 – Number 1 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2015 by 87th

(Song is “Beyond the Bounds” by Maki Kimura)
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GOTY 2015 – Number 2 – Splatoon

Posted in Uncategorized on December 23, 2015 by 87th

(Song is “Superfast Jellyfish” by Gorillaz featuring Gruff Rhys and De La Soul)
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GOTY 2015 – Number 3 – Yakuza 5

Posted in Uncategorized on December 21, 2015 by 87th

(Song is “Slam Dunk (Da Funk)” by 5ive)
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Old Game of the Year 2015 – Super Mario Advance

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19, 2015 by 87th

(Song is “Giant Peach” by Wolf Alice)
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