There were a ton of things to be excited about with the Nintendo Switch trailer, whether it be the suggestive list of confirmed developers for the platform, or what it implies about console gaming’s future. But what easily caught everybody’s eyes was way at the end.
The stadium. The uniforms. The loudly cheering crowds. Teammates strategizing plays over chalkboards, then stepping into blinding spotlights. This is the first time that Nintendo’s given blatant recognition to the esports scene – that hardest of hardcore gaming demographic that they’d been traditionally reluctant to embrace, even as the enthusiasm at the grassroots level increases year after year.
But the Switch’s reveal trailer was telling, as are the rumors steadily growing in the background. 2017 may very well be the year where the competitive passion underlying the Nintendo fandom gets its dues.
And these should be the games that pave the way.
Well. Yeah. Duh. It’s right there in the trailer. It’s actually a team-based shooter – even with a bit of emergent class-like properties thanks to the interaction between its weapon-types, load-outs, and unique approach to territory-control gameplay.
You’d think a world of CS:GO and Overwatch might already be oversaturated with shooters, but Splatoon was one of Wii U’s undisputed flagship titles specifically because of how unique it approached the genre. Yet like its already-competitive peers, it’s structured well for tournament play.
It does need a few tweaks, though. The fashion-accessorizing is fun, but the randomized stats accumulation and difficulty in getting the exact spread you want with your playstyle is hazardous for competitive integrity – getting Spyke to reroll hundreds of times for That Perfect Set isn’t exactly conducive to fair play. Ideally, Splatoon Switch will either have a superior and more controllable customization system… or tournament play disables clothing bonuses altogether.
Bonus: esports teams and tournament costume DLC sales for additional revenue.
Super Smash Bros.
There’s the deliberately-engineered competitive fit, like with Splatoon, and then there’s the one carefully evolved over years and years of play, driven entirely by the passion and enthusiasm of its competitors.
There is arguably no such thing as Nintendo esports without Super Smash Bros. There’s just a matter of how Nintendo handles it.
Ideally, Nintendo rewards the community by working alongside them, instead of replacing extant circuits wholesale. Having 2GGT, CEO, EVO, The Big House, and all the others work as points-based qualifiers into an end-of-year world championship bonanza would be amazing, to put it as lightly as possible.
There’s an interesting story behind Pokken’s competitive scene that’s proving annoyingly difficult to substantiate, but it absolutely should be noted that the game is still actively supported.
Just not on the Wii U.
The arcade version, the scene for which exists almost solely in Japan, has been getting a regular stream of DLCs – most of which have ended up in the Wii U anyhow as unfinished and unactivated data. Could, then, a Nintendo Switch version be in the works? While that might annoy the players that already got Pokken on the Wii U, a Definitive Edition version with all the doohickies and downloadables that were previously arcade-side only would revitalize a series that’s lately slipped back into obscurity.
Also: more costume options for Pika Libre would be highly appreciated.
Combat-racing with bananas and turtle shells have always been great among friends, but there’s an extant competitive scene for Mario Kart too! Just ask English LPL caster Froskurinn, over with the League of Legends scene. Traditional racers have done poorly as spectator sports, but Mario Kart’s cartoony charm and the frisson of being able to actively mess with and interfere with competitors lends it a watchability and drama that you don’t get from, say, Forza.
…granted, blue shells are an embittering experience for first-place players. Having item spawning options to tailor it for competitive play may be a necessity.
Wait, what? Seriously?
Arc System Works was part of the official lineup of registered Nintendo partners for the Switch announcement. Arc System Works is almost solely known for their output of anime fighters. While their games aren’t exactly native to the Nintendo ecosystem, any Nintendo esports effort that doesn’t coincide with their partners’ prior and established competitive works is a missed opportunity.
Granted, this means we’ll all need to buy yet another fightstick. So it goes.