Splatoon is the latest and greatest title by Nintendo to grace the Wii U and boy does it deliver! As we begin our Splatoon campaign we select our character. You select either the boy or girl avatar and then begin the tutorial. Nintendo has had an excellent track record on making its mark with any game genre and this is no different as it takes the concept of a shooter, subtracts your typical bullets and guns, and adds colorful ink and a splatter blaster to paint the town red, or whatever color you are given.
As you begin playing Splatoon, you quickly make your way through the tutorial and then get dropped into the town; in this area you can go online and play Splatoon with others in color-splattering fast paced action, or you can continue your offline campaign and go into the shop to buy clothing and accessories for your avatar. You are a half human, half squid character called an ‘Inkling’ and as you progress through the first few areas of the game you learn to shoot your ink, refill the ink, protect yourself, turn into the squid to traverse quicker and climb or jump high spots. The four on four team based action is frantic, fun and oh so colorful as is the single player game so I really wasn’t sure what to try out first. Playing a little of each kept me interested and glued to the TV longer than I expected on the online and offline modes.
In Splatoon your artillery ranges from splatter-gun variants that give you different rates of fire as well as different amounts of damage as well as charged sniper splatguns and paint rollers that paint wide stripes of ink across the ground around you. A nifty tidbit with the paint roller is that it can be used to squish other inkling enemies. Your secondary weapon is either a mine, grenade or bomb. Using these secondary weapons you can also distract your shielded opponents if they are artificial intelligence.
Gameplay in Splatoon feels unbelievable as you really understand quickly how to play the game. Even learning how to travel from point A to B quickly while avoiding damage can be so seamless the more you play and the more you utilize your squid or your human form. Both forms are equally important and to switch back and forth is a breeze. Human form lays out the ink for you and your squid form to travel, and then your squid inkling speeds through. One thing to remember is to avoid traveling quickly through the ink as a squid; if it is not your color ink, you will become easy prey! Once you touch an enemies ink you start to lose health. There were a few instances when I had a brain cramp and continued on as my squid inkling even though there was clearly no safe ink around that could be traveled in. These mistakes happen usually when the games are fast paced, which in Splatoon, is all the time.
The controls are very unique for a game being labeled as a third person shooter. The Wii U Game Pad’s screen is used for menus and the game map. The Game Pad’s also used for motion control when aiming your weapons making you feel very much a part of the game. This feature is what took the most time to get used to but not too long.
Splatoon also included a two player versus mode if you are not interested in the one player campaign or multiple inklings for the online battles. In two player versus mode, one player is on the Wii U Game Pad and the other one is on the TV. This mode was not too impressive as it lacked the craziness of the massive online play and felt more like a one vs. one challenge mode.
When the Wii U first came out there was a lot of backlash on the systems specifications with some of it being called out of date. Splatoon really shows visually that the specs do not hold it back in the look and feel of the game. It’s a bright, beautiful, colorful game that is very clean as well. There are instances when you notice a few of the areas or characters are not as clean as you would like but it is still a beautiful presentation. The ink effects and color is unbelievable. I have commented on the color many times already but there is something really great when you focus on making your game colorful and fun. It stands out and is very memorable comparing to other titles. This title in particular is easily one of the best looking games on the Wii U.
Visually Splatoon is a gem, and the audio in the game is no slouch either. With each splat of the gun, run of your avatar or swim traverse of your squid, you really feel the game come to life as a hole. It’s important to deliver a complete package for longevity and entertainment purposes and Nintendo brought it hard with their spring release of Splatoon.
The game releases on May 29 along with the release of the Amiibo Splatoon figures which unlock several challenges and outfits.
Enjoy Splatoon on May 29th exclusively on Wii U for $69.99 suggested retail price in Canada, 59.99 in the United States.