Making a mess has never been this much fun
By Corey Dirrig
When I started hearing about Splatoon, I admit I was very skeptical. A third person shooter developed by the most kid-friendly company next to Disney sounded like a nightmare scenario. But in traditional Nintendo fashion, they pulled it off, and pulled it off beautifully. Splatoon is one of the most innovative, creative, and just plain fun games I have played in a long time. With solid mechanics, instantly lovable characters in the inklings, and terrific level design, the game has proved me wrong, being one of Nintendo’s strongest titles along side Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, and Super Smash Bros.
| Let’s Play Splatoon! Multiplayer |
This basic design and mechanics of Splatoon are pretty comprehensive. You create an Inkling, a creature that can transform itself between a squid and an alternative humanoid form. This may not seem important at first, but once you start learning the mechanic of switching forms, it quickly becomes on of the most useful and intuitive parts of the game. One of the best feelings I had was diving down into your own ink and swim around to an opponent’s backside and splatting them from behind. I also love swimming up walls to create new vantage points. The frame rate is a solid 60 frames a second and never dips from it, making the experience as smooth as any shooter out there.
The campaign is solid enough, offering a five to six hour experience fighting against the Octarians and taking on their bosses. I was surprised at how much Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy seemed to have inspired much of the design, from shooting the ink to erase the enemy’s to the warp platforms that shoot the Inklings to a new section of the map. Most of the levels are designed just like Galaxy, with little areas that you can shoot to, making your way to the next launch pad to find the exit. Another thing Splatoon does similar to Mario games is the way it takes a concept, like the sponges or swimming up walls, and designs entire levels around teaching you that specific concept in a smart, natural way. That is something Nintendo has always done well. At the end of each campaign section, there is a boss that makes you use all of the concepts that you learned throughout that section of the campaign to beat it. I loved the way that when I was attacking a boss it felt more like a puzzle, similar to what Zelda games in some respects. It feels really satisfying to solve them. After completion though, there really isn’t any reason to go back to it. Nintendo’s young team isn’t afraid to wear their inspirations on their sleeves.
But the real fun comes with the online multiplayer suite, which is some of the most innovative and colorful multiplayer I’ve ever seen. The main (and only for now) mode is Turf War, where each team is charged in covering the largest amount of the map within the three minute time limit. Nintendo in outstanding fashion takes the territory control multiplayer concept and makes it easy to understand and accessible, but fun and competitive at the same time. Splatting enemies is fun, but covering the map with ink is even more satisfying. Pro Tip: Paint your base first. It is the easiest way to earn points and the hardest area for the enemy team to penetrate. Getting around the maps is also fast, whether you swim through the ink or launch yourself to one of your teammates to help them out, both are very intuitive and keep the pacing of each match fast and fresh.
There is an interesting variety of weapons in Splatoon, from the splatter-shot Jr. to my favorite weapon, the paint roller, which can be used to run over or crush your opponent as well as cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. There is a lot of combinations to choose from to complement your play style. Secondary special weapons and grenades are also available, including a bouncing grenade, a sonar type weapon that creates a ink tornado, and the Ink sprinkler. The grenades use a tremendous amount of ink unless you have the right perk, and the special weapons use a meter and can be activated by clicking the right stick when said meter is full. There is a lot of choice in Splatoon, and certain weapons are better for certain levels. You can test out new weapons at any point by going to the training area, experiment with different combinations before going into matches.
It is easy to spot your enemies on the board too, whether it’s on screen with the colors of the ink or quickly glancing down at the controller. GamePad also gives you an easy way to see who is winning, displaying a bird’s eye view of the level on screen with real time inking activity, always allowing you to see what’s happening in the match. Some people were making a big deal about no voice chat, but honestly I haven’t found a need for it, and not having it didn’t hinder any of the experience. Sure it’s fun to chat with your friends, but Skype, Mumble, and chatting via Xbox Live are all okay alternatives.
Matchmaking isn’t quite up to par with something like Halo and Call of Duty, but it works well enough, as finding matches is never an issue. I have been dropped two or three times, but it’s not hard to jump right back into a match. For Nintendo to have a solid online infrastructure for their online experiences has been a plus for them this generation, and this game is just adds to that notion. While you wait for a match, there is a GamePad centric jumping game to pass the time. It’s fun, though I think adding a feature to switch out gear or look at new perks the clothes have to offer.
| Let’s Play Splatoon! Strand 002 |
Speaking of the latter, the clothes aren’t just an aesthetic accessory for your inkling. Each piece of clothing, pair of shoes, and piece of head gear add a perk to your Inkling. As you progress through multiplayer, you can unlock better clothing, allowing for upwards of three perks each. These perks are noticeable too, allowing you to hold more ink, run faster, fill your ink up faster, and more. Combining these perks with the massive amount of weapon options can create a deadly player, so make sure you choose wisely!
One of my biggest disappointments in this game however is the lack of local multiplayer, with the exception of 1v1 battle dojo. I would have liked to have a four player split screen match of 2v2 turf war or bring my team over to take on the online community. To some that may not be a big deal, but I can’t even play some matches with my significant other, who seems intrigued by the premise of the game too. It’s a small issue, but one I have nonetheless, as this seems to be a staple for Nintendo games specifically, namely Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., and Super Mario 3D World. The battle dojo only kept our attention for so long before we switched back to Mario Kart. This is really the only complaint I have with Splatoon.
Though there is little content to start, Nintendo has promised a large amount of content and game modes coming to the game, some of which I have already experienced in the last week. Splatoon is quickly becoming a fan favorite franchise and a big success for Nintendo. The characters are so charming, the level design is great for the concept, and the multiplayer is as addicting or even more so than Call of Duty, Halo, or Gears of War. Nintendo tried it’s hand at a new genre and succeeded with flying colors, no pun intended (or was it?). Splatoon is just as addictive as Mario Kart, and now consumes more and more of my gaming time. Small issues aside, Nintendo should be proud of the product their young team has produced, giving Nintendo a competitive new IP and fans another awesome reason to own a Wii U. Hopefully the reception of Splatoon carries well into the future and continue to be a thriving franchise for them in generations to come.
Score: 8.5 – The DNA Network