Nintendo recap: Splatoon 3 Splatfest underway today, no purchase necessary

Splatoon 3 characters shooting paint
(Image credit: Nintendo)

Hello all and welcome to another Nintendo recap. There were several exciting announcements this week thanks to Gamescom as well as a Nintendo Treehouse video showing off Splatoon 3 gameplay. We'll talk about all of the important reveals from these events. Plus, if you're a Splatoon fan or are curious about the upcoming game, you can participate in the free Splatfest World Premiere this weekend. 

In other news, Nintendo says it plans on reducing packaging for the Nintendo Switch and we finally got a release date for Sonic Frontiers. Plenty more is waiting below so let's get a move on. 

Play Splatoon 3 Splatfest free this weekend

Splatoon 3: Shiver, Big Man, and Frye

(Image credit: Nintendo)

The very first Splatoon 3 Splatfest is currently underway today, Aug. 27 from 9:00 a.m. PT to 9:00 p.m. PT. Players choose a team — either Rock (blue), Paper (yellow), or Scissors (red) — and then duke it out online in paint-based turf wars with the other opposing teams as their opponents. 

This Splatfest event might seem surprising since the full game hasn't even released yet and won't until September 9. But it gives returning fans and curious folks a chance to check it out. What's more, it's a free demo! So if you're already a Splatoon fan or are simply curious about this upcoming game, you should play while you can do so without spending any money. 

Just download the Splatoon 3: Splatfest World Premiere demo on your Switch and you're good to go!

Nintendo Treehouse covers Splatoon 3 Story Mode and Harvestella

Leading up to Splatfest, a Nintendo Treehouse presentation went live on Wednesday showing gameplay for Splatoon 3 and then ended with a look at Square Enix's upcoming fantasy RPG, Harvestella. During the Splatoon 3 segments, we got a look at the single-player Story Mode where players run through courses defeating enemies and trying to reach the end. 

We got to see that players can throw their Smallfry buddy to distract enemies while they sneak around and attack from other locations. Some of the new weapons like the Splatana were also shown explaining their range and how best to use them. If you're going to take part in the Splatfest, it might be worth watching to pick up some Splatoon 3 tips and tricks

Harvestella Nintendo Switch

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The Harvestella portion made it clear that this is a refined yet simple RPG with life simulation elements. Players can customize their characters, fight in battle, plant crops, explore a fantasy world, and gather items. As part of this, you'll need to make sure to have food on you at all times to replace stamina used during the day. In many ways, it looks like a prettier version of Rune Factory 5, if that's your kind of game.

Nintendo Switch packaging to be reduced

(Image credit: Source: Rebecca Spear / iMore)

For the past few years, the world has been experiencing chip shortages, which have severely stunted tech production as well as raised prices for many gadgets and machines that use them. Nintendo itself has been affected by this, with numbers showing that sales are down by quite a bit due to the fact that the gaming company cannot produce as many systems as it would like. 

As with most products, the holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for Nintendo, which seeks to sell as many Switch and Switch OLED consoles as it can to stay in the black. To help ship as many gaming systems as possible, Nintendo has plans to shrink the packaging size for the Nintendo Switch V2 by 20% (thanks, Nikkei). The Switch OLED's box is already more compact than the original one, so this isn't too surprising to hear. That being the case, be prepared to see yet another Switch box in stores soon. 

Sonic Frontiers gets release date and new video

There wasn't a ton of Nintendo news from Gamescom this year, but we did get a new story trailer for Sonic Frontiers, which officially revealed the launch date for this upcoming game. It comes out on Nov. 8, just 10 days before Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. The trailer gave us a more polished look at the game than we'd seen previously, with exclusive scenes we hadn't seen before. 

Sonic is shown interacting with a small girl named Sage that seems to be covered in red coding lines. At one point she tells him, "Submit. Your reckless actions endanger the world," before Sonic defiantly presses a button. We then pan to several different areas filled with Sega's iconic springs, rails, and fast tracks. In a particularly interesting moment, Sonic comes upon Amy who is trapped in a strange red orb. He starts to investigate before turning to face oncoming robots. 

In another scene, some kind of strange red glowing similar to what we see on Sage's body, takes over Sonic's right arm and seems to cause him pain. Folks online were quick to criticize that this seems similar to what's happening to Link's hand in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2 trailers. But we don't know what this red glowing does to Sonic exactly. Sonic then attempts to attack Sage, but cannot penetrate a protective shield surrounding her.

Sonic Frontiers: Sonic approaching trapped Amy.

(Image credit: Sega)

Now that we've seen more locations and characters, it seems like this could be an interesting storyline in a relatively large world. The game will take up 10.4 GB of space on Switch, so make sure you have enough room on your microSD card before it launches. 

If you've been paying attention to the marketing for this game, you'll know that fans have not been very impressed with the visuals and mechanics they've seen up to this point. Many have even called for Sonic Frontiers to get delayed, though Sega responded by saying it had no intention of doing that (thanks VGC).

While not mind-blowing, many fans have responded more positively to this latest video marking the refined environments as a huge improvement over what has been shown in the past. It also helps that we now have more of an idea regarding the plot. Amy at least is in trouble and Sonic needs to save her. Plus, there's this new intrigue from this apathetic Sage character that we're dying to learn more about.

Masahiro Sakurai starts new YouTube channel, Creating Games

If you're a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fan then you've gotten accustomed to seeing videos of Masahiro Sakurai over the last few years. He is a legend in the gaming industry, having started his career at HAL Laboratory in 1989 when he was only 19 years old and created Kirby soon after. It was also thanks to Sakurai that Super Smash Bros. came into existence. He's directed every Smash game since the original 64 debut, which is why he would announce the new Smash Ultimate fighters and explain how to use them.  

On Wednesday, Sakurai announced that he is starting a new YouTube channel called "Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games." He states that his videos will try to stay between two to five minutes long and are intended for everyone. He will talk about game development along with what makes games fun without getting too technical. As he said in his first video, "Those with no game development experience need a good starting point...I hope that by covering a variety of topics on this channel, I'll be able to help more people see what game dev is all about." He also says that as part of his videos he'll be showing Smash Bros. development builds and design documents, which is very exciting.  

Learning about gaming creation from a master who has given several lectures at universities and other professional settings will hopefully inspire people who want to learn about gaming as well as those already in the industry. But, don't expect details on how Nintendo operates, as Sakurai warned, "Trade secrets must be kept."

Game Awards date announced

The Game Awards announcement for 12/8/22

(Image credit: The Game Awards)

On Monday, the date for The Game Awards 2022 was revealed to be Thursday, December 8. As is tradition, the ceremony will take place at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The exact times for the show have not been listed yet, but we're sure to get more information within the next couple of months. 

The very first Game Awards took place seven years ago in 2014 and it has been the biggest gaming ceremony ever since. In addition to giving awards to developers and creators, The Game Awards is a place of premiers where people often see the first video for certain projects or hardware. 

As always, the 2022 ceremony will be hosted by its founder, Geoff Keighley who has served as a journalist for over two decades. There are plenty of contestants angling for Game of the Year, like Elden Ring and Horizon Forbidden West. Not to mention many surefire nominees like God of War Ragnarok and Bayonetta 3, haven't even released yet.  Mark your calendars and get ready for what will be an epic showcase. 

Switch games to play this weekend

If you're a fan of traditional Zelda dungeons then you really ought to check out Blossom Tales II: The Minotaur Prince. This sequel just launched last week and is a love letter to Link's adventures. One of the best things about it, though, is that while gameplay is very fun with sword fighting and fantastical elements, it doesn't take itself seriously. Rather, it often makes good-humored fun of the Zelda dungeon style it's copying. 

Another great option is Cult of the Lamb, which has continued to sell well two weeks in. Players are still buzzing about its cute character designs and dark themes, comparing it to a creepy Animal Crossing. If that sounds like your kind of thing, you really ought to check it out.

More exciting games to come

That's all the news there is for this week's Nintendo recap. This year is packed with several awesome games scheduled to release in the next few months, so check back in each week to learn about what's going on with Nintendo and the gaming industry. 

Until next time.

— Rebecca Spear

Rebecca Spear
Gaming Editor

Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.