For Nintendo’s recent online-focused titles, they have begun implementing a new strategy focusing on generating interest during specific periods of time. This strategy has begun to appear in more titles recently, and it is indicating a shift in Nintendo’s focus regarding their online strategy. These are, of course, the Splatfest and Party Crash modes of Splatoon and ARMS.
Splatfests Marked a Change With Nintendo’s Online Games
When Nintendo hosted the first Splatfest a month after Splatoon launch in May 2015, the even caught the userbase by storm. The amount of interest that it generated could not be overstated. Splatoon is a game all about style and hype, and the Splatfest completely encapsulated that. The two inklings hosts known as the Squid Sisters were always the center of attention when you started the game, and they would pick a side in an innocuous argument which would range anywhere from Cats vs. Dogs to Ketchup vs. Mayonnaise.
For the time period during the Splatfest, the atmosphere of the HUB town and music would change to that of a party. It was energetic and pumped players up to battle it out for their team. Then, they would go on to play on a stage specially designed for the Splatfest as well as night-themed versions of familiar stages. While not every match would be against the opposing team, most of the time they would be. The Splatfests were silly in nature, but they felt meaningful because you were putting your skills to the test against a multitude of other players gathering together for the event.
Arms Was the Next Successful Implementation of the Splatfest Strategy
The next game to come along which realized this concept almost as successfully as Splatfests would be on Nintendo’s new fighting IP, ARMS. This mode is called the Party Crash. While ARMS doesn’t have as charismatic hosts as the Squid Sisters or Pearl and Marina nor does it have a HUB town to explore, Nintendo was able to create an exciting atmosphere simply by changing the colors and music in the menu.
The Party Crash is similar to Splatfests in that there are two teams to choose from. Unlike in a Splatfest where the choices of teams can range wildly in sometimes downright silly topics, in the Party Crash you are given a choice of two characters. For a fighting game, this makes quite a lot of sense. After all, the fighters are the focus in a game such as this. The way the Party Crash actually unfolds is where it differs completely from Splatfests in a very positive way.
During the Party Crash, you are encouraged to use one of your two characters and a particular set of arms. By doing so, you can earn extra points which go towards your total earning you things such as an in-game currency which you can use to get new arms and achievement-like badges. You will face off against groups of players in a room battling them at random.
Every 15 minutes, the game mode (a.k.a. bonus period) will change to create all sorts of interesting scenarios. For example, one bonus period is One Hit Wonder in which, as the name suggests, characters die in one hit. Another bonus period makes your Rush Attacks charge instantly. In the newest update, there is even a special form of the game’s boss, Headlok, which can only be fought during the Party Crash.
While Party Crashes haven’t received as much attention as Splatfests simply because ARMS isn’t as popular as Splatoon, they add just as much to the experience as Splatfests do. During a Party Crash, you get to experience the game in a vastly different way than you can at any other time, and it is always a thrill to play.
Conquest Mode in Smash 4 Wasn’t as Successful
Nintendo experimented with bringing this concept in Smash 4 in the form of Conquest Mode. In Conquest Mode, team of characters are decided, and when you play in the With Anyone online mode with one of those characters, your win or loss is tallied towards that team’s result. But it wasn’t as stylish as Splatfest nor did it offer the variety of Party Crash. Conquest Mode just doesn’t have the focus or strength of hype backing it like the other modes. It just ends up feeling like a forgotten feature of the game whereas it’s Splatoon and ARMS counterparts are absolutely front and center.
What Might the Future Hold?
By implementing these modes into their recent games and further perfecting them between new titles, Nintendo is showing that they have a distinct interest in catering to their online audiences. These are creative modes which generate a lot of hype regarding their games, and it will be something to look forward to in the future. How exactly might we see this sort of mode implemented into such games as Mario Kart or Mario Party? Will Conquest Mode in Smash be brought more into the limelight and improved for Smash 5? Maybe they will surprise us by implementing a similar feature in an unexpected, online-centric game such as Animal Crossing. Only time will tell, but I believe that we will be seeing these sorts of modes much more frequently in Nintendo’s online games going into the future.