Okay, so I’ve played more than “a bit of” Splatoon since getting it. But with a game that’s updated and tweaked so much by Nintendo, it’s hard to feel like it’s ever reached a point where I can look back at as a whole and feel like I can have an opinion about it. In some ways it might be fair to say Splatoon is a platform or service rather than just “a game”. It’s constantly evolving and changing (for free, too!)
When Splatoon was first shown off by Nintendo I wasn’t sure it was for me. I don’t really play many online multiplayer focused games anymore. I’ve been patchy at best with them ever since quitting Runescape at some point during secondary school. The initial previews didn’t seem particularly glowing, either. But then the Beta came out, and while I didn’t play it, it seemed to light social media on fire. People were saying it was really, really good. As a Wii U owner it didn’t take much to convince me to check out a potential system seller and thus further justify my purchase.
It’s amazing and I love it, and it’s the first online multiplayer game I’ve played in a long time that feels so warm and embracing. The single player is pretty lightweight, but has to be commended for teaching you so many of the mechanics you’ll need to get to grips with for the proper multiplayer mode. Splatoon is pretty simple in concept – just ink a bunch of stuff – but it actually gets pretty deep. Incorporating movement and stealth directly into the areas of turf you control adds a unique twist to the third-person shooter, and is more than reason enough to love Splatoon on its own. Whether it’s hiding in ink waiting for an enemy to run past, or sneakily swimming on the edge of a control tower in Ranked Mode, it’s a gameplay addition with a lot of functionality. And at the same time you can pick it up and just understand it really quickly. It’s got that refined simplicity you expect from Nintendo, and as a new IP it’s great to see.
The many different weapon types also provide a wide range of possible gameplay strategies. I think the entire game changed for me when I got into using the ink wall sub-weapon, which you can use to block off paths, or even as a quick, static shield. The short match times are also genius — long enough to encourage a tense game, but short enough to make you want to play just one more match. My housemate and my girlfriend don’t usually play these kinds of games (my girlfriend in particular does not play many games), but both of them got into Splatoon pretty deep for a period of time, and found it very easy to just pick up and play.
Splatoon is undoubtedly one of my favourite games of the year. And that’s saying a lot for a game that came out so early. It’s been able to defend its high ranking in my heart for some time. Playing it is just pure joy. It’s a feeling that’s hard to pin down exactly, but one that a lot of Nintendo games seem able to provide. I enjoyed almost every minute with the game, except those tainted by Nathan, an online player who splatted me continuously over a few matches, and proves why not having voice chat in the game was a good choice.