Splatoon is Nintendo’s first internally-developed game in 14 years – the last was the Pikmin franchise. Splatoon is a simple game where being intellectually challenged is not the main goal. Nintendo which brought joy to many kids (and adults) with its Super Mario series, wants to do the same with Splatoon – to provide unadulterated fun!
Splatoon is a third-person shooter game. The reason why a third-person-shooting game is better than a first-person shooter is that the camera is positioned behind the shooter, allowing you to see beyond the shoulder of the shooting character, as opposed to first-person shooter games where you don’t get to see the shooter. Third-person shooting games like Splatoon add an element of fun over seriousness.
Contrary to other shooting games where the objective of shooting is either death or destruction, Splatoon begs to differ – the characters in Splatoon shoot/spray ink anywhere and everywhere. The game offers a single-player campaign mode but as it is a team-based game it is much more fun to play with friends and other players. There is also a one-against-one two-player mode, making way for some healthy competition. After all, there is no blood or gore in Splatoon which makes it suitable for kids and there is also a multiplayer game mode – two teams of four each (eight players in total) can battle it out against each other. The objective is simply to ‘splatter’ your opponent with ink.
In the campaign mode, the story is simple. You are an Inkling and Inklings are creatures who can transform between humanoid and squid forms which live in the city of Inkopolis powered by The Great Zapfish. The evil Octarians (who interestingly enough, resemble octopuses, at least in part) have stolen the city’s source of power and now it is your job to get it back, making your way through Octo Valley. The story is simple enough that even a child could understand it which is perfect as children are the target genre of audience.
The game begins with you being recruited by Captain Cuttlefish who is a funny-looking war veteran. You have a default weapon which can be upgraded or powered up by acquiring Power Eggs, which are present in every stage.
There are urban settings in Octo Valley, and as an Inkling, you shoot ink in your team’s colour at your opponents to defeat them. You can also change into a squid – this allows you to hide from the enemy and swim through ink that is in your colour. You can also swim through grates and up against walls but not in ink that is in the enemy’s colour. As a human, moving through enemy ink is also harder. Splatoon is not only a ‘shoot-em-up’ but also a battle for territory as you need to get your ink sprayed all over to get and eventually win the game. You also have to face ink-eating robots and spongy platforms that absorb ink. Ink-rails also add to the challenge – these are ropes/connections of ink between platforms. As an inkling, you can use them to move from one platform to another but doing this as a human results in death. If you die, you are sent to the teams respawn point and your supply of ink recharged.
The Wii U GamePad can be used to see a map of the surroundings and it can also launch you towards another teammate. The Wii U GamePad also provides gyroscopic controls for better aim when shooting or rather, splattering.
There is a ‘Sunken Scroll’ associated with each level that provides you with various backstories regarding Splatoon. An ‘area boss’ is also present at the end of each level, against whom you square off. Defeat him/her and you move on to the next level with some sweet blueprints that be turned in at the weapon shop for more loot.
The graphics in Splatoon aren’t exactly what you would call life-like but Nintendo has obviously done this on purpose to differentiate Splatoon from other violent shooter games where the graphics are unbelievably life-like and full of blood and other gore. Splatoon provides a friendlier and fun environment for shooting things without all the violence. Nintendo obviously wants the players to feel that they are still playing a game and not transported to a world of artificial reality – this is actually what made gaming fun in the 1980s and 1990s.
The soundtrack seems to match the pace of the game and Nintendo really worked hard on the sound effects – for instance, they pounded slime repeatedly to recreate the sound made by a squid jumping into ink. What many gamers found odd and are the reportedly eerie sounds near the last boss battle which are hardly suitable for a children’s game and more in tune with a horror game. One of the Sunken Scrolls explains that this is the sound of Octo Valley falling apart but you can be the judge of that (see video here).
Nintendo seems to have factored in regional differences into account – there are actually different dialogues for the North American and European versions. For instance, when music by the Squid Sisters (final boss) starts playing, DJ Octavio says “What’s this? Where mah beats?!” in the North American version and “What’s this? This song?” in the EU version. The North American dialogue actually gives him more personality and adds a dramatic touch to the game.
While in reality this game is meant for children it seems that the adults are actually the ones playing and enjoying Splatoon more as they reminisce how gaming used to be whilst kids these days are buying titles such as Call of Duty and Halo. The lacking of a chat option in Splatoon is a pleasant change as you don’t need to deal or worry about other players swearing or insulting everyone to intimidate others or appear ‘cool’.
• Fun unique modes
• Online play
• No voice chat
• No voice chat (both pro and con)