Nintendo's latest foray into competitive fighting games is a gaping success, but can they hold it all in, or will the pros lapse into irrelevancy?
Published August 12th 2017
Fighting games, since their inception, have almost always followed a similar formula. The Street Fighter series set the standard for fighting games, and most games to come after have followed by its example.
Other major games would offer their own subtle tweaks to the formula, introducing 3D space, or platforming elements. But no matter what, it would almost always be recognizable somewhat as an offshoot of the 2D, side-scrolling fighter genre.
Until now. Nintendo, the pioneers of innovation, have decided that it’s time for a change. Fuck side-scrolling, fuck button combinations. The next eSport? Wii Boxing.
You're gonna need to waggle the fuck out of your opponents if you want to come out on top in their new IP for the Switch, Overwatch.
Overwatch is a multiplayer boxing game, pitting colorful minorities from different countries against one another to win the Privilege Belt. You can play as Chubby Asian Woman, Strong and Independent Black Woman, White Woman, and a whole assortment of gays. It might not say they're gay in-game, but they are. Trust me. Look it up on Tumblr. Everyone is gay, and also probably transgender.
A clever combination of party game and "competitive fighter", Overwatch is pretty basic on the surface, but can get much more in-depth with its massive amount of customization options. But most importantly, the motion controls are optional. And in that, Nintendo has already crafted a great game.
I did not have high expectations for Overwatch when it was first announced. I was not impressed by the premise. I did not like the look of the game. I was very unhappy with it, and thought Nintendo was wasting its time with yet another gimmicky party game.
And though I wouldn't call Overwatch a true, overwhelming success, they've surprised me with how good it ended up being, and that is a victory in itself.
It feels like an actual fighting game, though a quirky one at that. The motion controls are actually surprisingly accurate and fluid, though they can't match standard buttons in efficiency. The customization options do present some form of strategy, and the characters are colorful and likable.
It almost feels like a bizarre third-person shooter of sorts. You'll fire off your slinky arms to fist your opponent, with different arms having different properties. Some are rapid-fire, some are slow and heavy.
Dodging, blocking, and throwing are all in the mix too, like your standard fighting game. And your arms can be charged up to give them unique properties, like electricity or fire.
It doesn't have the same elaborate fighting game combo shit most fighting esports are known for, there's not a ton of unique frame data to analyze or move priority to learn. You can punch with your left hand or right hand, and that's about it. And in that sense, I'm not sure just how long it'll stay relevant to the fighting game community.
But most important of all, it's fun and balanced. There isn't much in the way of cheap strategies that aren't easily counteracted, the different characters and stages are fun to play, and there's a fair amount of content at launch to learn.
The only real detractor from the game that I can see is the "first installment in a fighting game" syndrome. Even with all of the stuff they got right, it's pretty bare in terms of extra modes and fighters. There's some little mini-game type modes, like Lucioball and shit. But those don't offer much besides a little cool-down from heated multiplayer matches.
Once you've played through the Arcade mode and fiddled around with the online for a bit, you've essentially seen everything the game has to offer. Nintendo will be supporting it with free DLC and content updates, but so far, a couple new characters and some new equipment options isn't enough to really bump the game from "pretty good" to "a true eSport".
Where Overwatch goes from here is entirely up to how Nintendo supports it, and where they go with the inevitable sequel. Right now it straddles a fine line between party game and fighting game, much like Super Smash Bros. The game doesn't actually know what it is, and is too in the middle to really be one or the other.
Whether they make Overwatch: Brawl or Overwatch: Melee next will determine what audience the game ultimately captures, and how the series will fare in the long run.
All we know for sure is that Nintendo has made groundbreaking advancements in next-gen ass sculpting technology. Just look at that succulent ass up there. And Zelda's, from Breath of the Wild.
The future of the Nintendo Switch, and all of Nintendo's games to come, will surely utilize this power. There will be lots of ass in our futures.
I only hope Sony and Microsoft can catch up in time before it's too late.