When you think about exciting third person shooters, Nintendo consoles probably aren’t the first to spring to mind, but then again you’re probably not expecting paint cannons and squids either, but that’s exactly what you get with Splatoon. The concept might not make a great deal of sense straight away, but take a look at the E3 trailer below to get an idea of what to expect from the multi-player shooter, but you might want to put some shades on before you press play, because it gets pretty psychedelic in the Inkopolis Battle arenas.
Splatoon had released date in the second half of 2015, exclusively on the Nintendo Wii U. The big N gave themselves a pretty wide release window to finesse the finished article, but from the look of the E3 2014 trailer below it was already looking pretty close to completion a year before it’s release, which meant that it was likely to be getting an Easter release, much like Mario Kart 8. However, while development wasn’t necessarily delayed, as was the case with Pikmin 3 in 2014, it didn’t hit the shelves until the 29th May 2015.
The gameplay is a bizarre mix of standard third person shooter action combined with Super Mario Sunshine-like jet shooting skills as you take on the role of one of the Inkling characters at the centre of the game’s multi-player action. It’s a team based concept in which you’re paired up with a group of paint-based shooters to splatter your team’s ink over the majority of the map environment to win in 4-vs-4 matches.
As an Inkling you’ll start out in a match with your ink gun to shoot your team’s colour far and wide, with the Inklings in the opposing team trying to do the same to win the match. The team with the greatest area of coverage goes on to win and with the addition of short usage special weapons, including a paint roller, bazooka, grenades and a sniper rifle there’s a fair bit of frenetic variation built into the game in terms of how your strategy for ink-based domination takes shape.
One of the more spectacular ways to get rapid coverage is to take your ink-firing rage out on one of your opposing Inkling adversaries. Once you splatter them, they’re sent back to their team’s respawn zone, while leaving a pretty significant splat of your team’s ink in their place, giving you free reign to dominate the area in their absence.
However, it’s not just about blasting away for all you’re worth, as there’s a significant strategic focus on movement thrown in also. When you’re in human form, you’re Inkling’s movement slows down significantly when trying to cross enemy ink. On the other hand, if you’ve got a good coverage of your own ink you’ll be able to easily take to your squid form and move around your own ink at rapid speeds.
In this respect, Splatoon is a bit like a game of chess; if you’ve got a good strategy with good coverage you’ll find it easier to hem in your opponents and control the board, but if you lose ground quickly you’ll find it tough to regain position. However, the game also features a hide function that you won’t find on any chess board, as you can duck under the surface of your own ink when in squid form to hide from an attacking enemy Inkling and to recoup your ink reserves.
The unique qualities of the Nintendo Wii U game pad have also been incorporated into the game to add even more fun into the mix, not least of all the ability to use the second screen to view the map, similar to Pikmin 3. You can also use the gyroscopic sensor in the game pad’s motion controls to help with aiming, which give a new dimension to 3rd person shooter games, so hopefully Nintendo will do more of these going forward.
If we’re being brutally honest, the graphics are nice, but they’re not really groundbreaking. However, the reality is that the emphasis of the game is on fun with a capital splat, so world beating graphics is far from the aim of the game. It’s colourful, cute and has enough solidity to feel like you’re in control of ink squirting human-squid hybrids, so as far as we’re concerned, job done.
On first inspection, we’d have to say that Splatoon is an action-packed, fun-time third person shooter with a whole lot of multi-player excitement built into it. It’s got a fair few sprawling maps and the developers release new maps every now and again to keep things interesting. The only downside is that there are only two different modes of gameplay, which keeps it from being the world beating experience it could be. We were keen for there to be at least some kind of single player campaign mode, but sadly the finished article lack the story and adventure to make it feel anything other than a jolly sideline. Read out full review of Splatoon for more details.