This article was originally posted by me on Hittin Crits, which has since been taken offline. The content in this article was either taken from a web archive of the original, or from the most recent copy on my hard drive. As archives do not always contain images it’s probably that the images contained within the original article are not present here.
Splatoon is such a Nintendo game. It’s exactly what you’d expect a Nintendo-developed competitive shooter to look like- the aim of the game is to shoot everything but the other players. In Splatoon, two teams of squid people compete to (at least in the mode I played) cover more of the battle arena in paint than their opponents. It was an absolute blast to play, and was simple enough for kids and their parents to play, while involved enough for someone like me to strategise and have some fun with it too.
The tools with which you’ll paint the town red (or pink, or blue, or whatever your team’s colour with) are an ink gun, an ink bomb, and a tornado power-up you can earn from covering enough land (and enemies!) in paint. You aim your ink gun using the GamePad’s gyro sensors, while moving the camera with the right analogue stick. It sounds unwieldy, but you get used to it quickly. You can also throw an ink bomb which covers a larger area in one go, but this uses much more ink than shooting normally. In order to recharge your ink you need to transform into your squid form. In this form you barely move on land, but if you’re in your own team’s ink then you move much faster than you would on foot, and can move along any surface as you see fit. You’ll also be able to slip through bars and gates, to allow for sneaky escapes from enemy players.
The ink and the squid form make for a really interesting dynamic in matches. Not only is splatting ink all over the arena the goal of the match, but it enables you to traverse it much easier as well. The map we played on was almost like a skate park, with jumps and ramps scattered around that you could fly off in squid form. There’s also sections of the map that can’t be painted, like certain floors, which means that if your team ‘controls’ the walls of that area, you’ll be able to move through much faster than your enemies. So you could have one teammate, lure enemies in there, and have another trap them with an ink bomb when they’re in, and can’t escape.
Because while the focus isn’t on killing, you can ‘splat’ your enemies with ink, and if they’re hit enough they’ll fall apart into pieces, and have to wait to respawn. Splats don’t directly contribute to your score, which is good because it doesn’t make the objective redundant, but they do help by keeping your opponents out of the fight for a short bit of time, and by filling up your special metre. This metre will allow you to fire ink tornados for a short while when it’s full, which cover more ground than your average ink pellet.
The level was fun to run around, with interesting gimmicks, like the ramps and inkproof areas I mentioned before. There’s also a few fences that only squids can get through, which can be handy when you need to make a quick exit. There was also a water tower that you seemed to be able to climb if you inked it, which would make a nice vantage point for hitting enemies below. Overall the map lacked a bit in verticality though. First thing I tried to do was ink the walls and climb up them to get a better view, but the Nintendo rep supervising pointed out that there’s inkproof bars at a certain point to stop you from going higher. The map was still varied and made use of levels, but I like being able to get to high points.
Splatoon grabbed my attention from the second it was revealed- it was such a fresh take on the shooter genre, and something that’s quite a bit out of Nintendo’s comfort zone. It totally delivered on expectations when I got to try it out, and I can’t wait to see what the finished product will bring.