Note: This review is of the game at launch, any further additions to the game since then have not been accounted for.
A brand new game from Nintendo is always a big deal, it is rare that Nintendo goes and delivers on a brand new experience, in fact they spend a good amount of their time focused on older properties so seeing something new is truly exciting. They are known to deliver quality in their games and offer an experience that only they can offer and usually it works out, which for the most part is what comes with Splatoon.
At E3 last year many of us were blown away when Nintendo announced Splatoon, after a shortage of fresh new ideas from the company finally we had a new game and I couldn’t have been happier or more excited. The game promised fun, excitement and really fast high action battles, and gladly it delivers. It is truly easy to say that I don’t know the last time I had as much fun as I have had with Splatoon, which is really the best point I can make of the game.
Splatoon follows a very simple premise, it is all about quick paced shooter action except with a Nintendo twist. Rather than just following the competition Nintendo has crafted a game that is really them, Splatoon is bright, colourful and a whole lot of fun. You have two abilities one to be a humanoid creature and the other to be transformed into a squid, both of which I found to be equally enjoyable, in order to succeed and play well in Splatoon learning to balance the shooter side of the human form with the capabilities of the squid form in necessary and never dull.
The game takes a real look at strategy and working out the best course of action to succeed. Combining the shooter elements with the squid abilities, which each feature a different skill set to the game, you must learn how to use them best with the stage provided as is the key part of the online game.
Nintendo has taken a much different route to their past games with Splatoon, instead of providing emphasis on the local multiplayer or the single player a lot of the game focuses on online. There is a lot to be said about this movement and focus for the game, Splatoon leaves behind Nintendo’s core focuses to try something different and for the most part it works really well.
Online is the biggest part of Splatoon, it features the Turf War game mode which tasks players with fighting to claim the most territory with the assistance of their three other team members. Turf War quickly proves to be addictive fun with matches only running for three minutes at a time, I regularly lost track of time and found matches were over really quickly but really involved a lot of thought, concentration and well considered strategy.
Online may be fun but a number of problems really hold back the experience. At any one time there are only two stages that can be battled on, the game is changed every four hours to have different stages for battles. Four hours is a long time and whenever I was playing online I got fed up with seeing the same stages, for each battle the stage is chosen at random and regularly I would end up doing the same stage five or six times in a row. It does not stop the game being fun but there really is no enjoyment in battling on the same stage over and over again, I just really hope Nintendo can fix this in the near future.
Disappointingly, stages are also very limited in Splatoon, along with them only changing every four hours there are only a handful of stages. It quickly became annoying seeing the same courses appear constantly which was as tiresome as the course repetition.
Along with this the game offers limited modes, as of now the online game only offers the Turf War mode. While the mode is fun I found myself asking for more to be offered, and was disappointed by the sheer lack of things offered. It really made the game feel empty to me particularly given the focus that Nintendo has put on the game being an online shooter.
This same frustration also affected my experience with the local multiplayer, while the game had potential to offer more for the local players it only offered a single mode. Local multiplayer really is not a big thing in Splatoon with Nintendo moving away from some of their best game features, local multiplayer only offers players the chance to compete in a 1 vs 1 battle to destroy balloons. I seriously had hoped for more from local offerings, though I did find the game mode to actually be fun for a short space of time, though I personally don’t this mode being something I will come back to very often. The game seriously does require more modes for local players to allow more accessibility to Splatoon.
Splatoon also offers a single player campaign, while not the games main focus the mode turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable. The campaign takes you to Octo valley where you are tasked with stopping the evil Octarians who have stolen the great Zapfish from Inkopolis, without the Great Zapfish Inkopolis is in danger of running out of power. This is as far as the game goes in terms of an actual story where the game instead tasks you with taking action and completing levels.
The single player takes a very different approach in terms of gameplay which feels refreshing, rather than focus strictly on team based arena battles the single player takes you into individual levels with enemies to defeat and puzzles to solve. You are provided with a simple splattershot, and must use it to shoot down enemies and deal with the basic puzzles that appear before you, many of the abilities used in the multiplayer are incorporated into the single player such as inking walls and using the squid form to climb them. Along with this I was pleased with the constantly evolving difficulty and range of puzzle elements that appeared throughout the campaign.
Unfortunately, while the campaign is quite fun to play it is beaten rather quickly and I feel will end up mostly ignored. Splatoon focuses on multiplayer and unfortunately the single player does not really add to the game as a whole, so sadly this means that the mode that is worth your time will likely not get the attention it deserves.
One of the big positives of the single player though is the learning side. Many of the levels provide adaptable skills which I found helped me to learn to play Splatoon better, much of the skills needed for the online game can be learnt in the single player and then adapted to fit your playstyle. The single player side of Splatoon I found to be really worth playing and a quite a fun couple of hours, though in the long run it will likely become quite forgettable.
Splatoon features many varying types of weapons and gear which can be considered an embarrassment of riches and value. While the game may currently lack a lot of things needed to keep things entertaining the lineup of weapons and gear really feels complete.
As you play online you earn money and experience, as you expect money is required to buy weapons and gear. Experience on the other hand, helps to raise your level allowing to buy varying kinds of gear and weaponry, the more you play the more the game offers which was great. I was personally more of a fan of the roller weapons during my time with Splatoon and was glad to discover there was many kinds I could get as I went up in levels, but many types of guns also exist which while some feel very similar to one another they each allow for different types of strategies. It was interesting to see how different weapons were used and they adapted to different strategies, weapons never felt lacking and it provided plenty to focus in the game.
Gear also felt the same to me, I regularly found myself checking the shops to see what I could get to change my characters look but also to help with additional abilities. Each piece of gear from shoes, to headwear, to clothing each comes with different abilities which can be help in battle. Abilities range in varying types to upgraded running speed, swimming speed, ink savers and that is just to name a few there are many different abilities which can used to help win in battle it just comes down what the player really wanted. I found playing with gear was a good use of time when playing to find the perfect setup to provide me with the best abilities to match my playstyle, and didn’t really care what my character looked like as long as I found the abilities I wanted.
One of my biggest concerns for Splatoon was the gamepad usage, while I really like the controller on many occasions I have found the motion control side of the games to not be to my liking. I was glad to find this concern was unfounded and that motion controls worked really well, in fact in combination with the right analogue stick it became quite an effective playstyle for me. If it bothers people having the motion controls they can at least be turned off but I honestly found them one of the best ways to play. The gamepad itself also was quite effective as well particularly in online battles, the screen provides a map of the arena and you can see where your team occupies as well as the opponent, you can then jump to another team members location to strategically work on taking areas which was a great strategy mechanism I thought. The gamepad was great in this game and I am glad that it worked well across every part of the game.
Splatoon is certainly a fun game, and that can’t be denied, Nintendo has done it again and crafted another game that will be loved and enjoyed for years. In the games current state though, I personally feel Splatoon feels empty and lacking, hopefully in time more will come to the game but it certainly feel quite there yet. If Nintendo can fix some of the problems I found then they will have a brilliant game but is is just not completely there yet.
The single player component of Splatoon was quite enjoyable and the use Amiibo’s extends into this, during my time with Splatoon I had the opportunity to use the Boy Amiibo for Splatoon and the use makes the game better. The Amiibo figures provide additional missions to be played which help to unlock new gear and weapons which can be used in the multiplayer, the bigger benefit about these missions though is they task you with challenges. I for one thought the single player was a bit easy with my splattershot so the challenge presented by the Amiibo’s was certainly a step up, only specific levels were given from the single player but they are made harder by the usage of different weapon types. During my experience having to use the splatroller to complete levels was challenging and proved to be really rewarding as well as fun.
For Splatoon the Amiibo’s are definitely worth owning and add a different benefit for a couple of the games shortcomings. The single player sees a much needed benefit and the online is also benefited from the usage with the games additional bonuses.