When Nintendo unveiled Splatoon during their Digital Event at E3 this year, I immediately fell in love with it, so when I walked into Nintendo UK’s Post E3 event this year, which was completely littered with ink splat stickers I might add, I almost ran directly to the first available Wii U Gamepad (not before stopping by Pokémon Art Academy for a spot of painting). But does it hold up to my expectations?
At the event Nintendo had eight systems dedicated to the game, even more than Super Smash Bros. which I thought was a little odd, but it seems Nintendo has a lot invested into this multiplayer turf war title. In the game you play as a humanoid squid-like character complete with an ink squirting gun. In the game mode I played, Turf War, the main goal was to cover as much ground as possible with your teams ink.
I was thrown directly into a 4 vs. 4 mode which began with a brief tutorial of the games controls. Immediately I was thrown off by the way you control your ink spurting character, as the game relies a lot on the Gamepad’s gyro to look up and down as well as slightly left and right. All other controls were pretty much the same, the left stick let you move backwards and forwards as well as strafe, and the right stick let you turn left and right, but to look up and down in order to get your ink to reach further, you need to move the Gamepad.
That’s not to say that the game is impossible to get used to, and Splatoon’s mechanics certainly break the mold of modern-day shooter control mechanics, but it does take a little bit of getting used to for you to truly enjoy the game. After a second time playing the game however was much more enjoyable as the controls were much easier to grasp second time around.
So it was Blue vs Orange with both teams starting at either end of the games map. It was a fairly linear map but the games mechanics offered you ways to traverse the map in completely unconventional ways. No longer does a blocked off corridor mean that there’s no where to go, as you can dive into your teams ink which not only tops up your ink tank, but allows you to reach previously unreachable areas. And even though squirting ink on the walls doesn’t count to your score, it does give you a tactical advantage as you can use the ink on the walls to dive into your squid ability and avoid confrontation with another player.
Covering the map in ink not only raises your own personal score and drives your team onto the road to success, it also attributes to recharging a special weapon. For me, this weapon was an ink blasting bazooka which sent a whirlwind of ink across the map covering a greater part of the map with ink, fairly quickly, and if an opposing player happened to be in the way, well, they’re a gonner.
Another weapon in Splatoon was an ink bomb, a pyramid filled with ink that when it exploded covered a massive area with your colour ink, but at a sacrifice as it depletes almost all of your ink which requires you to dive into an ink puddle to refill your reservoir almost immediately after.
Splatoon is an absolutely brilliant shooter which left an inky splooge in my brain after playing it, but for maximum enjoyment I feel that it requires one thing: Teamwork. Without it, you’re going to have a bad time. My first attempt at Splatoon saw myself and four other strangers against a handful of other journo’s who knew each other. It was clear from there that things were quickly going down hill as we all split off in completely different directions squirting our ink all over the place, when the other team concentrated more on covering more ground and making sure their base was covered.
Creating a strategy and getting the tactical advantage over the map is definitely the way to go forward with Splatoon, but that’s not to say the game is no fun by yourself. In a similar way that I described Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare; Splatoon squirts the fun back into shooters, the games bright setting and the concept of covering everything and anything with ink and making a mess is just brilliant fun and I’m really looking forward to the games release, whenever that may be.