When news first arrived for a Nintendo Wii U third person online shooter title, there was always going to be a twist and with Splatoon it’s a paint churning typhoon of an entry from left field. While it’s not the most exciting shooter experience out there it does bring a lot of fun with it, along with some clever gaming innovations that make it a great new addition to the Nintendo fold.
It landed on the Wii U on the 29th May 2015 and we’ve been working our way up the ranks on it ever since. It takes a little while to get your head around and to an extent there’s not actually all that much to the game, which is why you can feel a little nonplussed when you first start to play the game. However, as you start to get to grips with the sheer simplicity of the game and its progression it becomes a fun sideline that you can dip in and out of whenever you want, which makes for a welcome change from the massive investment of time and concentration that is often needed for modern day games.
Though the game is primarily a multi-player online team based game at heart, there is a campaign mode to try your itchy trigger-fingered hand at. It’s not great though, seeing you take on a random alien invasion from the dreaded Octarians in a bid to save Inkopolis’ precious Zapfish energy source. It’s a simple 3rd person shooter with little to keep your attention, but if you do manage to persevere you’ll be rewarded by blueprints that can be used at the shop for new weapon options. You’ll also get to tackle a few big bosses with you ink blaster and bomb compliment, which is probably as good as it gets for the campaign mode.
The online multiplayer focus of the game is such an original concept in terms of gameplay that it’s hard not to give Splatoon a high scoring review. However, it isn’t entirely without its limitations, which is why it just narrowly misses out on the four star review, however, we wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t more still to come from the game in upcoming updates, so if Nintendo add in a little more adaptation with new game modes then we’ll update the review accordingly.
On the face of things, the Inkopolis splat-a-phon is a clever new take on the third person shooter, making the genre work really well online. You play an Inkling and have to battle it out in 4-vs-4 online team games, firing as much of your ink all over the place to win the round, which is a lot of fun. If that isn’t enough craziness for you, you can also go from human to squid form to travel through your own colour paint at speed, jumping in and out to build up your paint reserves and swimming up walls to make it to higher ground attack ledges.
During each game, your main mission is to cover everything that you can with your team’s ink, which gets pretty frantic all by itself when you add in the bombs, grenades and bazookas you get as your second weapons and the special attacks you build up by laying down serious volumes of paint. However, things get even more interesting when you face off against an Inkling from the other team, giving you an opportunity to splat the ever loving squid tentacles out of them, sending them back to the base spawn spot.
On the downside, the game lacks variety in terms of game modes with just two types of online multi-player. Initially, you start out with just the simple Battle mode, which sees you covering everything in ink to finish the round with the highest percentage of coverage, which is pretty fun. Things kick up a notch when you pass the Level 10 mark and unlock the Ranked Battle mode, which sees you taking on more of a capture the flag style of game, where you need to hold Splat Zones for long enough for the timer to count down… but that’s it.
If they’d thrown in a team deathmatch and an every-Inkling for them-self it would have smashed four stars like Mario on a mushroom the size of Bowser’s spiky shell. Sadly, that’s not the case right now, but we’ve keeping our fingers crossed for an update or DLC in the not so distant future and we’ll definitely be throwing in a few more tenths to the review score.
To compensate slightly Splatoon puts in a pretty valiant effort to build in a fair amount of variety in the weapons sets that you can acquire along the way. A lot of these only become unlocked when you reach a certain level of experience, which helps to keep you charging on through the game at pace, but it’s always exciting whenever you manage to buy a new piece of kit. We’re big roller fans, just because you can get some really good coverage fast, but there’s a lot of other cool blasters including the Nintendo Light Gun and a super-soaker spray gun that is pretty unstoppable.
Splatoon is a cartoon-based colour splash with a solid graphical platform and some nice effects for the ink interaction. It’s never going to win any awards for cutting edge rendering or detail, but that’s not what it has set out to do. Instead it’s got a well animated, lighthearted design concept that taps into the spirit of fun that can sometimes be missed in the serious business of 8th generation gaming.
Graphically, we’d put it in the same league as Mario Kart 8 and that’s by no means a slight as we love the look of both titles for their well rounded, solid characters, intricate background setting and eye-candy colour overload. Transitions between human and squid form Inklings is fluid and fast and the crazy style is hard not to fall for instantly.
Good new game, epic originality and good fun. If it can add in a little more smoke into the variety of the game modes then it’ll be one we’ll be playing for a long time to come.
Splatoon review: 3.8/5