Since Splatoon was first announced for the Nintendo Wii U, it caught us by surprise and had us captivated at the new found sense of originality found by Nintendo. It was surreal seeing a console that was once known for its originality slip into a rut that recently saw the release of it’s 10th Mario Party game and what, 24th Kirby game? Having Squid fight Octopi over a battleground over who can ink the most stuff is pretty funny, and dam right cool! It’s something Nintendo needed and pretty much all fans of gaming have been excited over since its announcement.
Splatoon on the Wii U is a great all around, fun game to play and we fortunately had the privilege to get our hands on it a couple days early. Initially there are five maps available which will increase with free updates over time. It may sound disappointing at first, but the fact that each map adds so many different possibilities makes one map seem like 5 in itself. High, low and middle ground areas will see each time planning their all out ink assault with strategy that seems like a “wink wink nudge nudge” with the sense of enjoyment involved. We play an inkling creature that over the course of time can transform into a human(oid) and vice versa at will. Our task is to save our home, Inkopolis, by reclaiming its power source that has been stolen by the Octopi in single player mode. Each level has various objectives that we must complete to move forward. There are two ways to move across the map. First, just walk. Easy right? Second, we have the ability to transform into our ink version of ourselves and “swim” through our ink that matches our team’s color. I say swim but it’s more like morphing than actual swimming. This is the most tactical technique in the game and needs to be used properly in order to gain an advantage. On any level, there are multiple levels of buildings that you can aid your cause. If something is too high, what do you do? Easy. Simply shoot your ink all over the building, transform and swim up to the roof. Easy Peazy. It’s a simple technique but actually harder than it sounds as you need to have somewhat of a strategy in order to deploy it properly.
Although the single player is fun, multiplayer online is the main jist of Splatoon. Single player took us about 4 hours to complete in total with multiplayer leaving more room for growth. Although only one game mode is available in Ranked mode, the normal mode (regular mode) also has some fun features as well.
Regular mode – Basic mode where one team of four plays against the opposite team of also four players. Whatever team covers the ground with the most ink wins. Experience is gained and can be used to purchase new gear.
Ranked mode – Adds to the regular mode by having a “timer” for your time. Once the timer starts, each team will have to cover areas with their ink. As you increase the amount of area sprayed your timer goes down. The other team is also trying to do the same and by default, is taking your sprayed areas over in a back and forth match up. This was fun for us and our favorite portion of the game as we got to the end multiple times only to have victory snatched from us in the last second. This is called Splat Zones. More modes should be released later on.
The one addition that changes up the game a bit is the Battle Dojo. It’s a multiplayer level but only local co-op with friends on the same console. Only two players can compete at a time in a battle to see who can pop the most balloons. It’s set up similarly to Disney Infinity challenges where you must pop the Infinity balls prior to time running out. Which ever person, or creature if you wish, pops the most balloons wins. It’s pretty fun and simple but it’s on the same levels that the normal modes take place on. With levels being so large and 6 fewer players on the field we found that although fun, it seemed drawn out and only really added to appease the brother/sister crowd playing at home. All in all it’s a fun game mode and hopefully some of the free levels added in the future can be made solely for Battle Dojo to add to the enjoyment because it feels like a last minute throw in at the moment.
Winning levels and gaining experience earns you the ability to, of course, get upgraded weapons as well as gear while unlocking perks like the necessary mine indicator. We found this to be the most useful perk initially as it sucked getting blown up on our way to ink up and empty area and see it taken by the enemy. On the other hand it was also fun to blow up our enemies as well. There are four different types of weapons in the game which are Shooters, Rollers, Snipers and Blasters
Shooters – quick firing short range guns
Rollers – Think like you’re painting your house with a paint roller. It’s a fast weapon as far as ground inking goes but don’t have too much range. Very fun
Snipers – Longer range weapons that come with a twist. You need to charge up a shot. The longer the charge the farther the shot. Not good at close range really at all.
Blasters – Shotgun type of weapon. Only one round can be fired at a time and it explodes shortly after like a grenade in order to cover more area.
Remember thpugh, these are only weapon types, not amounts. Each of the four has special and “sub” categories as they are called that allow you to get in depth with customizing your character. Splatoon is a shooter remember. As a result, each team must use some planning as to what weapon they are going to use.Four blasters may cover some quick ground but would see themselves behind the eight ball against a properly balanced team with more range.
If you’re not used to the Wii U gamepad it’s going to be confusing a little bit right off the bat. Fortunately it’s just for a little bit though so don’t worry. The gamepad uses both its two sticks as well as its motion controls. This allows you to move the controller back and forth, side to side while navigating with the sticks. It’s confusing at first, especially when you move the gamepad to the right while the stick to the left or vice versa, but after about 15 minutes or so you’ll get the hang of it and thank us for recommending this feature. For those who don’t wish to try this or just find it to hard to enjoy the game with, you can turn it off in the options menu. But again, we don’t recommend this. In the Battle Dojo mode, one player uses the gamepad by itself while the other uses the television and a controller of their choice. In single player or solo multiplayer online, it’s definitely more fun to use the motion controls on the gamepad as it allows for a more first person feel to a third person shooter in Splatoon.
There are three Amiibo for Splatoon: Girl inkling, boy inkling, Squid inkling. When you use them (thanks to our friend at Gamestop for providing them) you enter a challenge mode that sees you have to pass various parts to complete. The squid is COMPLETELY different than the boy/girl inkling which we liked as it removed some of the sting of all three characters being limited functionality wise. Those who purchase all Amiibo be warned, currently Splatoon is the only game they are capable of being used on so at full price it’s not worth it unless you plan on collecting. Of course there is always the possibility of adding other games in the future but we can’t speculate for this review. The squid Amiibo has different challenges than the boy/girl inkling as well. They consist of seeing how fast you can make it through a level or limiting your ink ammo while the boy/girl inkling assigns you a weapon to use in order to complete a given challenge. The promised exclusive items from the Amiibo come at the completion of the challenges and must be completed in full in order to earn the gear.
Overall we really enjoyed Splatoon and the new originality (if that’s not redundant) that it offers for Nintendo. It’s been a while since they’ve released a new IP and although it has its faults of course, it’s definitely the shot in the arm that Nintendo needed. With more levels, and free ones at that, already promised to come in the future it’s evident that Nintendo plans to support Splatoon for a long time. The originality will also help the system as a whole and make more of a desired impact on the Wii U with the announcement of Zelda Wii U being delayed into 2016. Less games for Nintendo is never a good thing and Splatoon is released at the perfect time for everyone to enjoy. By no means is it a hold over game though. It’s a hold off game, as in it allows you to hold off on playing other games while you enjoy this. Take a deep breath, soak it in and enjoy Splatoon and just the good fun it has to offer. With so many games being chastised for not having enough gameplay with only 50 hours or so, Splatoon shows you that with the right blend of detail it’s not just about the gameplay but about the roots of gaming in itself; having fun.
- Overall Score:Recommended Play
- Audio:Unremarkable. Neither good nor bad. The audio that is there is just right for the game as you tend to forget about it as it fades into background during gameplay
- Graphics:Not the biggest pixel count but it’s not the point of Splatoon. Enough to not take away from the gameplay and only real lag so to speak came in the Battle Dojo portion of the co-op
- Gameplay:All good fun. Nothing really to complain about. There are some downfalls with lack of levels. On the other hand, the variations in weapons along with new levels coming keep Splatoon with its fresh, new take