Nick Smit reviews Nintendo’s new game Splatoon.
When you hear the phrase “children playing shooters”, you’re probably thinking of that kid on Call of Duty who manages to string together more expletives than you even knew existed. Now, you might also be thinking of the surprisingly innovative Wii U title Splatoon. I’m not exactly alone in the belief that Nintendo has needed a new IP badly for the last few years, and Splatoon may very well be this new addition to their classic lineup due to its iconic visual style and unique gameplay.
In short, you are an inkling: a creature that can take the form of either a kid or a squid. Your goal in the main version of the game is not to kill other players but to cover the level in as much coloured ink as possible. That doesn’t mean shooting the enemy is pointless though, as the 4v4 dynamic of the multiplayer battle means that the time spent returning to battle is precious. At the end of the round, the percentage of the map coloured by your team and the opposing is tallied up and a winner is declared. There’s a satisfying feeling of looking across the battlefield and seeing a vast swath of your team’s colour, like a proud claim over the territory. It also looks gorgeous, with crisp vibrant colours being thrown in a smooth 60fps that gives Splatoon the visual flair it needs to stand out.
As a squid, you can swim through your coloured ink very quickly, hide, and even climb painted walls. This means that inking the level helps you in game as well as at the end by allowing you access to shortcuts and vantage points to get the drop on unsuspecting players. The team behind Splatoon have created several weapons that work very differently and add to the variety of the game, with the fanbase favourite being a giant paint roller that literally flattens the competition. Unfortunately, the round can get a little uninspired if everyone picks the same weapon, which has happened a few times. The small amount of maps starts to get noticeable too, with only eight to tide you over until the apparently upcoming additional patches.
I can understand Nintendo’s decision not to include voice chat in the game, given their target audience. The last thing one would want in a family-oriented game is Call of Duty kid, but it does mean that your other three team members might as well be on their own teams as they bounce around with no co-ordination. For something designed for such light-hearted fun, I think it gets away with it, and it’s not like anything I could say over a headset would filter through the panic of a match anyway.
One last aspect to mention is the level-up and upgrade systems, which seem more like an obligation than a design choice to be honest. As an incorrigible aesthetics-focused person when it comes to character clothing, I found it rather irritating that my squidster (that’s hipster-squid) was being trounced by mismatched messes and I eventually had to give in and buy a gaudy hat to stop being pummelled due to my low-level gear.
In essence, Splatoon indicates the potential to join Nintendo’s other big titles, but it’s certainly not without its faults. In its current state, the game’s biggest issue may be longevity, but for what is there, the classic Nintendo polish shines though. The Wii U Pad’s controls make the game surprisingly accessible for young and old, so if you’re looking for something to get the whole family involved, Splatoon will be a choice that everyone can agree on.
Image: Raj Deut, Flickr, no changes made.