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Splatoon – Nintendo Wii U

Splatoon – Nintendo Wii U

Splatoon-Box-ArtPlatform: Nintendo Wii U

Developer: Nintendo EAD

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: May 29th, 2015

Genre: 3rd person shooter

Nerd Rating:  6.5/10

Reviewed By Steroid Gamer

Splatoon is the latest innovative idea from the amazing and imaginative thinkers from Nintendo.  On the surface Splatoon can be described simply as a 3rd person shooter for kids, and in some ways that isn’t fair, but in others, is more than an accurate way to sum up the game.  Splatoon is colorful, crazy, and full of potential, some of that shines brightly and some of it get’s suffocated in paint…or ink.

Sometimes you've just got to spray it everywhere.

Sometimes you’ve just got to spray it everywhere.

In Splatoon you play as an inkling, half-person/half squid creature and run around the in-game world of Inkopolis and spray your ink.  The game’s main focus is the multiplayer, but there is also a single player campaign to partake in.  The multiplayer is divided up into two modes: ranked and player matches.  The player matches are available from the beginning while ranked mode is locked out until you reach level 10, which surprisingly takes quite awhile.  The “player matches” playlist only has Turf War, where you and three other teammates swim and run around the map trying to cover the place in ink/paint.  Whichever team has covered the most “turf” at the end of the match wins.  The idea is very simple and the concept isn’t hard to pull off either.  The best part about Turf War, and probably the whole game in general, is how Turf War never becomes a blow out.  Matches only last 3 minutes long so you hop in and out of games quickly.  There is no in-game chat functionality but that doesn’t matter.   You don’t need coordination to be successful in Splatoon you just need to get out there and spray your ink.  Most online shooters suffer from the occasional game where matches are extremely unbalanced and one team ends up getting blown out, and as a result, players usually start to “check out”, literally and figuratively, but Splatoon avoids this pitfall that’s a common place in the genre.  Maps are small and you move about them quickly. For example, team A may have the map covered by 80%, then in the last 30 seconds, if Team B kills all of team A then each player spreads out covering as much of the map as possible before Team A can respawn, those last 30 seconds could easily determine a new winner.   This mode encourages players to keep playing the whole duration of the match and three minutes isn’t that long to begin with anyway so the pacing never slows down.

Squirt that ink!

Squirt that ink!

Ranked mode isn’t nearly as much fun as Turf War.  For starters, Turf War isn’t even available in ranked mode, and the game only shipped with one mode “splatzones” (see “Updates and Splatfest” below for more info).  Splatzones have opposing inklings fighting over one area of the map and trying to control it in a “King of the Hill” style match.   Ranked mode isn’t necessarily anything bad aside from the winner takes all mentality.  Losing in ranked mode will earn you a fat goose egg in the xp department which is a bummer considering Turf War gives you xp regardless of the match result.  Ranked matches are a little harder only because they require more coordination and can get hectic really fast.  Since the mode all centers around one point, you can find yourself stuck in a loop of spawning only to be killed as soon as you come back to life.  It’s not worth the hassle.

What would you buy with all that dough?

What would you buy with all that dough?

Inkopolis has several stores for you to visit where you can buy all sorts of shoes, hats and t-shirts.  Each item of clothing has random attributes assigned to it, so you won’t necessarily be able to equip the same specific item as someone online.  Items offered in the stores are randomized each day, but Splatoon offers a unique feature where you can “order” another players gear if you come across something cool online that someone else has and you don’t.  There are a variety of weapons to use that fall under three categories: paint-roller, long-range weapon, and short to mid-range weapons.  Each weapon has a projectile and a secondary feature providing plenty of variety for the game’s weapons.   I can happily report that the game has gotten much more balanced than it was in the Global Test-fire demoSplatoon does still have its more powerful weapons and what not, but it’s more about how players use the weapons than the weapons themselves being unbalanced.

Splatoon does offer a single player component if you need a break from all the online play.  Splatoon was shipped with a focus on multiplayer while the single player served as a secondary feature.  Personally, I wish the opposite were true.  The single player starts off a tad stale teaching you the game’s features and even trying to “train” you for the multiplayer, but once it gets past the easy hand holding portions it starts to develop into something awesome.  Sadly, it never feels like its fully taking advantage of what the game could’ve been.  Other than the final boss fight, which has a huge difficulty spike but is extremely fun, and quite frankly one of the best boss fights I’ve seen in years, the single player falls short of Nintendo greatness.  Don’t get me wrong, some of the later levels are a lot of fun, but it feels like Nintendo cut the creative rope on Splatoon’s single player just as it started to get good.  It’s a shame.

Square Boss looks straight up pissed.  Yikes!

Square Boss looks straight up pissed. Yikes!

Splatoon is a really interesting game to judge.  Arguably, Splatoon is one of the most colorful games you’ll ever play, and the in-game universe is built up a lot more than you’d expect.  One highlight is the witty dialogue you’ll hear from Inkopolis’s store owners, one whose particular insults make it easy to crack a smile, and a senile old war veteran whose glory days are behind him, yet he still believes himself to be the “freshest” fish around.  The in-game soundtrack has plenty of upbeat tunes that will stick around in your head and keep playing over and over inside your dome long after you’ve finished playing.  However, for every creative twist Nintendo puts on Splatoon there’s just as many genre conventions or “check marks” that are questionable left out.  No in-game chat, no ability to party up with other players (at launch but has since been patched in), limited modes, small map rotation and more.  It’s weird because I think there are around 8-10 maps, but only two are available to play on at a time.   Every two hours the maps are changed out, but still, why wasn’t one big 10 map rotation put into place?

Expect plenty of insults from this old cuttlefish.

Expect plenty of insults from this old cuttlefish.

Coming up with a score for Splatoon wasn’t hard, but recommending the game is a little more difficulty this time around.  I had a fun time with Splatoon and I’m more than glad I bought it.  However, as of today, I don’t feel like I got my full $60 worth.  The single player only takes about 4 hours to beat and there isn’t a whole lot of content in the multiplayer to keep me coming back past the 10 hours I’ve already put into it.  Nintendo has promised to keep delivering new content on a regular basis (the section below will cover this more) and in some ways they’ve already started, but I still don’t feel like Splatoon has given me my money’s worth just yet, but perhaps time will change that.  I will say this though, if Splatoon has peaked your interest somewhat at all over the last few months then I’d recommend you go ahead and buy it.  My advice would be to hold out for now, as in a couple of months, there’s bound to be even more content and you could, potentially, get it for a cheaper price thus giving you more bang for your buck.

Updates and Splatfest

This portion is going to focus on the most recent updates to Splatoon.  As of 7/6/15 I’ve downloaded and played every update the game has to offer.  The few new guns that have been put into the game aren’t anything special so that’s a bummer.   The new game mode “Tower Control” is pretty awful.  Personally, I think this falls more on the player base than the game mode itself, but as of now each game plays out the same way.  Both teams race to the tower and whichever team gets there first camps on the base with ink roller weapons, usually “krak-on-splat”,  and kills anyone trying to come even close to the tower.  It turns what could be a fun back and forth mode into a foot-race from the start, where whomever get’s there first wins 9 times out of 10.

Splatoon’s first every Splatfest took place on July 4th.  The event had three maps to play on, one which was new, and all of them were covered in the nightsky.   The interesting change in scenery as wells a new catchy song that played during the matches were more than welcome.  Players got to choose a side at the beginning of the Splatfest, Team Dog or Team Cat. Overall, it was still the same gameplay from a normal Splatoon match just with different bells and whistles to it.  Splatfest was fun but nothing to rave about either.  The recurring theme with this game was more than present here.  Why did Nintendo only have 3 maps during the whole Splatfest?  Ranked mode was taken away so you were forced to participate in Turf War only, and the event only lasted 24 hours on a holiday no less.  Plenty of other games out there had special Independence Day celebrations in their online communities that lasted the whole weekend.  Didn’t Nintendo think that players might be too busy celebrating on the 4th of July?  My biggest gripe with the Splatfest (and perhaps I’m just a sore loser) is that despite the fact that Team Cat won 51% of the matches, compared to Team Dog’s 49%, the winning team was Team DOG!  Yes, that’s right, because apparently popularity played a factor in determining the winning team.  Way more players choose to play for Team Dog and so through, what is some complicated formula created by Nintendo, Team Dog was the victorious team despite LOSING more games.  It’s silly really because isn’t the point to have players compete against each other to decide a winner?  With popularity playing a factor what is the point in playing the matches?  Shouldn’t players just vote on their favorite team, turn the game off, and then come back once the event is over?   Splatoon really is a fun game, but there are just so many questionable decisions everywhere you look.

Sorry, but how does the team with more wins lose? I'm lost

Sorry, but how does the team with more wins lose? I’m lost

Overall

inkling boy or girl

Inkling boy and Inkling girl ready for action!

Nintendo, if nothing else, has always proven to be extremely creative and that the company can come up with some of the most unique and interesting games out on the market.  However, what also seems to have become somewhat common for the company, it’s their creativity that sets them apart in just as many positive ways as it does negatively.  Splatoon matches up lobbies quickly, but there is no effective in-game party system.  The game is colorful, fun, exciting, and witty, but there is such a lack of content you’ll be able to see and do it all in a matter of a few hours.  Turf War is a great mode for newcomers and veterans, while the game’s ranked mode doesn’t offer as much care free fun.  I will say this about Splatoon, it may not have lived up to its full potential just yet, but with plenty of updates on the horizon there is a lot of promise for improvement. As the game stands today if you are a gamer on a budget the full $60 retail price is a big pill to swallow.  Honestly, Splatoon is a great game that provides fun for a couple of hours, but that’s the problem.  There just isn’t enough content to keep you playing for hours on end.  If you can spare the cash and Splatoon has grabbed your attention then I’d say go ahead and snatch it.  If you’re just not feeling it quite yet, or you’d like to get more for your money then your best bet is to sit this one out….at least for a few more months until Nintendo adds more meat to Splatoon’s bones.  Stay fresh squidlings!

Written by Sean Collins

Sean Collins


Sean Collins (aka Steroid Gamer) started playing video games when he was 8 years old. His first console was a Nintendo 64 and his first game was Mario Kart 64. He fell in love immediately and has been playing games ever since.

My current systems include; N64, Gameboy Color, Gamecube, Wii, 3DS, PS3, Vita, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.

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4 Comments

  1. I really need to play this a little more…it just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Improving one’s character seemed to rely too heavily on the online mode and it wasn’t fun past a few matches because of the large disparity between skill levels of players. I sortta hate to see Nintendo going this route, where online play becomes the game rather than an option.

     
    • Steroid Gamer
      Steroid Gamer says:

      Yeah, you might want to check it out again in August. That’s when the “big” update is supposed to be happening. True, about the online portion. As my review says I’d like to have seen more of the single player but oh well.

       
  2. This reminds me of the original Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64. The game was great and an awesome party game! But it wasn’t until the sequel (Melee) and the inclusion of a great story mode that made the game much more well-rounded and deeper.

    Great review Sean!

     
    • Steroid Gamer
      Steroid Gamer says:

      Thanks, Nerdberry. I’m still very excited to see what else this game has in store. There is a “big” update coming sometime in August, so we’ll see what sort of additions Nintendo will add.

      Personally, I’d love to see more maps and more online modes.

       

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