Nintendo Online mobile app launches alongside ‘Splatoon 2’ on July 21

The Nintendo Online mobile companion app will launch on July 21, along with the release of Splatoon 2, which will take advantage of the app for both stat-tracking and social features. The story of Nintendo’s tentative embrace of mobile phones has been somewhat dwarfed in the last year by the explosive success of the Switch and the NES Classic, but the launch of the mobile app and the company’s new online service for the Switch casts the spotlight once again on Nintendo’s moves into the 21st century.

SplatNet 2 is the Splatoon 2-specific section of the Nintendo Online mobile app. It will allow players to track different stage schedules, gear collected, global stats, and gameplay data like how much ink they have spilled. It will also serve as a hub for social activity, providing in-game voice chat and the ability for players to send multiplayer invites over social media and create private lobbies for their friends. SplatNet 2 (as part of the Nintendo Online mobile app) will be exclusive to smartphones.

The online subscription service will be free for all users when it launches later this month, but starting in 2018 will require a subscription fee. This will range from $4 per month up to $20 per year for the best value, which is about a third of the cost for a year of PlayStation Plus, for instance. In addition to online play and voice chat (though only through the mobile app as the Switch itself has no voice capability), the service will also act as a classic games library, offering a rotation of classic Nintendo titles for players to download similar to Xbox Games with Gold or Sony’s similar perks for subscribing. The first games announced for the rotation are Super Mario Bros. 3, Dr. Mario, and Balloon Fight, all for the NES.

Splatoon 2 follows up on Nintendo’s surprise hit from 2015, which reinvented the competitive, team-based shooter as a family-friendly, third-person explosion of color. As inklings, players shoot ink as both a weapon and a means to spread their color around the arena in an area control game, also allowing them to turn into squid form and quickly swim through their own color. The sequel adds more maps, gear, and modes, such as the new Salmon Run, a cooperative mode where two to four players fight off waves of enemies and bosses to collect enough power eggs (and live long enough) such that they can move to the next round. It also adds a new class of special weapons, such as missiles or an explosive hamster ball, which can be used once the player’s special meter is full.

Splatoon 2 launches alongside the first piece of the Nintendo Online mobile app on July 21, exclusively for the Switch.