Before I dive into Fire Emblem: Three Houses, one of my most anticipated titles this year, I want to take rewind a bit to July 2017, the day I got my Switch.
It may sound weird to feel nostalgic for a summer that was only 2 years ago, but here we are. That spring when the Switch launched, I started saving up my grad student cash and began the hunt for the system (remember how they were so hard to find back then?). It was July by the time I got one. I ended up getting a 3-game bundle that included Breath of the Wild, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and a weird but stylish game that one of my friends recommended to me: Splatoon 2.
I came for the ’90s Nickelodeon revival vibe, but I stayed for the Splatfests.
Those summer nights my wife and I took turns with the controller as we rushed our way through match after match. It was a good idea to have those Splatfests on the weekends because we stayed up way later than we probably should. My wife got really good at Turf War, too, even better than me. Breath of the Wild was obviously a masterpiece of a single-player game, but that summer Splatoon 2 was a serious contender for tying for my favorite Switch game. Any game that gets my wife wanting to play with me I’ll always consider high on my ranking list.
Long after that summer had passed and I’d exhausted the other modes — Octo Canyon, Salmon Run, and dabbling in Ranked Mode (though I lost most of those matches), the Splatfests always had me coming back. I loved the themed fights, the banter between Pearl and Marie, the dance party in Inkopolis Square, but most of all I enjoyed Shifty Station.
Shifty Station was a special stage unique to each event. Each one had a gimmick that kept the stage in flux – from large moving floor tiles to massive paint rollers that fly off into the enemy’s turf when shot. They made a new one of these for each and every Splatfest. It’s hands-down my favorite part of Splatoon 2.
Don’t get me wrong, the regular stages are fun, too, but once you learn a stage’s layout and underlying strategy, each match starts to feel the same. The Shifty Stations, on the other hand, have all these moving parts that make you think on your feet and change your strategy on the fly. They become these chaotic frenzies of color.
Get a few Japanese players on your team, and the adrenaline rush of that soundtrack, and Splatfests become this unstoppable joyride. These little celebrations are just too good to allow them to die. We probably won’t experience an official Splatfest until Splatoon 3 happens, and that game may not even release during the Switch’s lifetime.
However, the silver lining to it all is that the game’s last update features an overhaul to the Private Match mode, where fans can make their own private Splatfests, including all the unique ink colors and all the Shifty Stations! I’m amazed to see Nintendo hand the reigns of unofficial events over to its fans. And I’m so happy that Nintendo supported this game for so long, much longer than I anticipated.
If you need me, I’ll be on the Splatoon subreddit looking for open fan Splatfest matches.