Splatoon made quite the splash when it was first announced for the WiiU and became an instant hit with fans, despite only being available on the WiiU. It came as no surprise to learn that there would be a sequel and that it would be released on the new and unique Nintendo Switch.
Splatoon 2 is a perfect example of gaming duality across the board; Simple yet complex; Great story missions with great multiplayer; Easy but challenging; And stupid yet clever. Most games only ever dream of achieving such a thing, often struggling to be one or the other and failing horribly at balancing both, Splatoon 2 not only does this but does it well! It’s predecessor laid the foundation and Splatoon 2 built a mansion on top of them.
Splatoon 2 is very easy to pick up and play but welcomes back veteran players like an old friend. That being said the learning curve is fierce and you really have to hit the ground running when it comes to online play. The jump from the single player story levels to competing online is always jarring no matter what game you’re playing and Splatoon 2 doesn’t feature skill based matching in regular battle. This sucks for new players just starting out as it’s the only online battle available and therefore a guarantee that you’ll be thrown into a match with more experienced players, with access to different and better gear from the off.
It very much feels like an uphill struggle trying to climb the ranks and win a match or three, but because of the bright cheery colours and short game duration it’s hard to get disheartened. Three minutes of agony as your useless team mates mill around pointlessly (because it’s always your teammates fault) are a small price to pay for the opportunity to redeem yourself in the next match.
That isn’t to say that the solo play isn’t challenging, but see it as more of a training course for the online. It allows you to brush up on your combat and movement skills. It also features some hilarious boss fights at the end of each sector, the first of which is an oven and the resulting battle is full of bread related puns, which speaks to me on a core level. Playing through the solo campaign is a great way to get a feel for how the game behaves and how to use it to your advantage. Sure you’ll have a lot of fun doing it but playing Splatoon for it’s story is like going to Pizza Hut for pasta salad, it’s good but it’s not really why you’re there.
Splatoon 2’s online multiplayer is obviously it’s main attraction and so naturally it really brings home the bacon when it comes to play. The matchmaking is usually pretty swift and the connection in-game is incredibly stable. No lag, no disconnection due to failing servers or anything. Of course that doesn’t stop butthurt players quitting and leaving a team to struggle while out numbered. You can still pull it back more often than not when in turf mode by avoiding the enemies and covering as much ground as physically possible. It’s incredibly easy to join a friend’s match as well but in doing so neither guarantees you a place on their team nor in their lobby as they fill up fast and often you can be sat waiting another 3 minutes for their match to end so you can join once more. Having to use a third party app in order to setup voice chat is also kind of annoying but Discord and Skype have been around for years now….
Map rotation happens every 2-3 hours throughout the day and this helps keeps things fresh, however playing the same two stages repeatedly for a while can get a little tedious. Although this does give you chance to get comfortable with the maps, knowing where and what you can and can’t ink. This feature also shows that the game is a constantly shifting dynamic with content being added regularly so as to keep things fresh. Within the first 48 hours there was already a new weapon added to the game with the promise of future updates and additions to follow.
To review Splatoon 2 and not talk about it’s colourful design and style would be nothing short of criminal. There’s very little that’s been changed but after all if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s predecessor introduced a bright and bold colour scheme along with an interesting twist to the modern shooter paradigm. Focusing on objective play rather than out-right slaughter made the game appeal to audiences young and old, casual and hardcore. Splatoon was quite frankly a pioneer, breathing new life into an otherwise stagnant genre. Splatoon 2 lives up to it’s forebears and exceeds expectations, running on the compact powerhouse tha is the Switch, it looks absolutely stunning. Squiding around in ink leaves a small but distinct wake to mark your path, noticable enough to see but indistinct enough to make it difficult to trace.
The Switch gives the player the choice of activating motion controls in order to aid (or hinder) aiming. When playing in tablet mode the motion controls are more of a hinderance than anything, manipulating the angle of the screen to aim isn’t any help when you can’t see what it’s looking at anyway. However in Tabletop or TV mode the motion controlled aiming is actually really intuitive and response, although I’ve grown up playing with twin analogue sticks, the motion controls are definitely a viable system for aiming!
All in all I don’t think I can accurately describe just how fun Splatoon 2 really is. If you’ve played the original you have a good idea and are likely to have already picked this up, if you haven’t then I can’t recommend it enough. This charming and cheerful shooter will have you playing for hours thinking only minutes have passed.