Gaming headsets are supposed to be relatively simple products. You put them on your head, plug them into your gaming device of choice, and then you have all the benefits of headphones and microphones with about half the hassle. But that's not how the new Splatoon 2 headset works.
Nintendo revealed the headset via Splatoon's official Twitter account. It's made by Hori, a third-party manufacturer, and it does what pretty much every other gaming headset does. You'll be able to hear the game's charming soundtrack, listen for approaching Inklings who want to cover you with their ink, and communicate with your teammates to come up with the most effective plays. That is, of course, if you have a smartphone.
Why? Because that's how the Nintendo Switch's chat function works. The console itself doesn't allow you to communicate with anyone; you're going to have to download a companion app for your smartphone whenever Nintendo's paid online service debuts. Reasons for that decision aside--maybe Nintendo wants to protect kids, maybe it just has no idea how online services work--the result is a weird setup that nobody should fuss around with.
The diagram above shows how the headset works. First you have to plug it into your Switch, which will allow you to hear the game. Then you have to plug it into your phone, which will allow you to hear your teammates. Combine them and voila! Three cords between three devices gives you all the functionality you'd normally get from a single cord plugged into two devices. But the fun doesn't stop there, folks.
No, it ends with us wondering how you're supposed to use this headset when you're playing Splatoon 2 on a TV. The entire point of the Switch is that it allows you to move between TV- and handheld-based gaming with minimal frustration. But neither the bundled Joy-Con controllers nor the separate Pro Controller have any headphone jacks--the only way to connect this device to your Switch is to use the console's headphone jack.
This isn't Hori's fault. The company had to work with what the Switch offered, and the reality is that Nintendo simply didn't make the console with online communication in mind. Not that any of this is new. The Switch still doesn't have access to common online services like Netflix, it still relies on friend codes for multiplayer, and despite wanting to charge for online play, bugs abound in the Switch's biggest online game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Splatoon 2 is set to debut on July 21. Nintendo hasn't yet said anything about this headset outside of Japan, so if you're willing to deal with all its compromises to get a little bit of an edge over your opponents, you might end up having to import it yourself.