Hello yet again, fellow Nintendo enthusiasts! There were a couple of interesting announcements this week; one of which I’m extremely excited for, while the other is questionable. There was new information galore this week on both Xenoblade Chronicles X and Splatoon, both of which are Wii U exclusives releasing this year.

I have been very excited for Xenoblade Chronicles X arriving on the Wii U since it was first announced. Personally, I think both RPGs and JRPGs are a perfect fit for the Wii U. This is mainly due to the GamePad usage they could implement into titles, map usage to free up HUD space, quick-change items, writing notes… and these are just a few aspects that the Wii U could enhance in this type of genre. Anyway, to get back to the point, XCX looks to be an impressive game that has potential to be a wonderful addition to any Wii U owner’s library.

Late on Friday night, there was a Japanese live stream revolving around the game. There was much to be shown and discussed regarding the general gameplay in the game, but what really caught my attention was the online functionality.

We had heard about the “passive” online capabilities of the title, but there was no confirmation of actual multiplayer online co-op. Some had begun to worry that there might not be active online co-op gaming to be had; Monolith Studios hadn’t mentioned it specifically, and it seemed like it should be a major selling point for a game like XCX. Thankfully, that worry was put to rest: they officially confirmed four player online co-op. Upon confirmation, and after checking to make sure no one was around, I stood up and did a little jig. Okay, I didn’t actually do a jig, but I imagined that I did. That’s close enough, right?

Online functionality for XCX has potential to add massive amounts of gameplay to the core experience. Also, it’s just fun to explore and experience gaming worlds with friends. XCX will have plenty of exploration as well, since the title will be 22.7 GB in size and feature five different continents. Yes, continents. The area that we’ve seen in various videos since E3 last year are most likely all within a single continent; I’m assuming the first continent explored, as the New United States (the hub of the game) is located in it.

XCX Gameplay Screen Shot

XCX is going to be an expansive game; perfect for online co-op play!

One other noteworthy feature of XCX is the controller compatibility. The GamePad and Pro Controller can be used, as expected. However, what caught me by surprise is the announcement that a USB keyboard can be used in the game. I’m thoroughly interested how it will be used. Will it be used in place of a voice chat system? Perhaps there are things to type into the actual game, so the keyboard will be used in tandem with the Pro Controller? Well done, Monolith; you have my attention.

For all the outstanding news released for Xenoblade Chronicles X, there was some “questionable” news as well. I purposefully use that word, because I don’t know how to feel about it. Earlier last week, a sizable amount of new Splatoon details were revealed; some of which weren’t well-accepted by gamers.

Splatoon Header

Splatoon is Nintendo’s quirky take on online shooters.

The developers creating Splatoon are finishing up a local multiplayer game mode, new details were released for “Hero Mode” (essentially, single player mode), and some fun facts about the development of the title were made clear. What created some buzz, though, was the fact that online voice chat would not be used with strangers, and matches will not start until a full eight players are found.

Honestly, I don’t know how to feel about the voice chat. On one hand, I stopped using online voice chat with online shooters a while ago. Something about little kids spouting terrible deeds they’ve apparently done to my mom just rubs me the wrong way. I would end up creating a party on my Xbox 360 to chat with my friends – I didn’t need to chat with strangers, nor did I desire to. In addition, since most people have smart phones these days, using services like Skype are nice alternatives for group chatting while playing online without too much of a hassle. However, the lack of voice chat begs the question: should they have implemented it as an option for those who do care to use it?

They specifically state that voice chat wouldn’t be used “with players you are matched with,” so perhaps friend-list voice chat will be used. If that’s the case, then I’m perfectly fine with that; I also think many others would be fine with it as well. The concern though, is that people who aren’t hardcore Nintendo fans won’t buy the game because they can’t use a feature that almost every other online game includes. Titles like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U can get away with limited voice chat, but team-based titles like Splatoon might actually be hindered by the lack of voice chat.

What is more important though, is that online matches won’t begin until a full eight players are found. Splatoon is a new IP, so it cannot rely on a massive fan base to fill up the servers with players; it needs to prove itself a worthy franchise that can move Nintendo hardware. Of course, if enough people purchase the game, and the wait time for matches is minimal, this news won’t matter at all. Personally, I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to play a match with a few of my friends online; I’ll have to coordinate with seven other people to play with at the same time, unless I want to play with strangers. Do they really think I have that many friends? I’m being facetious, but it is a concern that I have.

Splatoon Gameplay

Will no voice chat hinder gameplay? Will a required eight player roster slow match-making?

I’m still excited for Splatoon, and I’m sure Hero Mode will be loads of fun. I’m just a little weary, since the core of the title seems to be founded in online team-based gameplay; if standard features for the genre aren’t used, will it hinder the actual gameplay at all? The answer to that will be answered in May, once we get our hands on the new title.

And there you have it: another week of Nintendo-related news has come and gone. Be sure to check out the next couple weeks, since Majora’s Mask 3D is launching on February 13, and Kirby and the Rainbow Curse releases on February 20. So, until my next long-winded overview of Nintendo goings-on, stay safe and play recklessly!