Announced at E3 last year, Splatoon is an upcoming 3rd-person shooter (of sorts), developed by Nintendo’s EAD Group 2. Featuring an array of–
“But you notoriously dislike competitive shooters!“
I… who… That’s very true, argumentative theoretical internet person. Which is why I’m excited to be so stoked for this one, which is why I’m writing this. If you’ll just give me a minute, I want to tell you some of the reasons to get pumped about Nintendo’s new–
“Topher you’ve been talking about Nintendo stuff an awful lot lately, what do you secretly work for them or some foil hat #notyoursockpuppet blah blah reason?“
Do I secr- what? No. They’ve just done a lot of stuff I’ve liked recently. I’m excited about this game, and I want YOU to get excited for it so there’ll be more people online for me to shoot ink at. This is my own website, nobody’s paying me anything for anything. Besides, I already applied at Nintendo once and they wouldn’t have me, so why would I do them any fav… You know what? Shut up. I’m trying to write a thing.
Read it after the jump if you want.
1. It’s a new Nintendo IP
Which haters, fanboys and everyone between agree is needed. Splatoon‘s developers have mentioned that they originally considered Mario and his usual band of associates for the job, but between tennis, go karts, baseball, soccer, board games, perennial princess rescue, (plumbing?), don’t they have enough to do? And how do you explain their exploding when hit by enemy ink? Swimming almost 2-dimensionally through puddles? Doesn’t really work, and thank goodness.
I’ve also heard it suggested that they could have used Bloopers, the obnoxious squid enemies from the Super Mario series. But you’d never look at them the same way, knowing somewhere in your mind that while they’re floating around getting in the way of Mario’s swimming, they possess the ability to morph into a bratty tween in a flannel shirt and neon sneakers. It’s unsettling.
Thankfully, Nintendo’s development methods are geared more toward creating engaging gameplay first, then finding characters to fit it, rather than vice-versa. In this case, no existing set of familiar friends made sense, and we end up with something entirely new. Which allows room for character designers to go nuts and do pretty much whatever they want, leading into the next point.
2. The character design is excellent
Pretty brilliant in its simplicity, really. Not only do they look awesome, the Inklings serve to wrap up all loose ends in terms of explaining why you’re able to do everything you’re doing in the game. From a creative perspective, transforming humanoid squids affords so much opportunity for humor and themed world design that I can’t imagine it being anything but a total blast to have worked on. When you’ve got a whole ocean’s worth of visual gags, references, character types and naming conventions to fish from, the world is your oyst… alright, no. Stop that.
Take Crusty Sean, for example. A shrimp who wears a jacket that looks like tempura, because of course he does. Sports four different pairs of shoes on his multiple legs, because he works the in-game shoe store, because of course he does. What a playground it must have been in the office where all this was born. The result is an applaudably clever, delightfully original bunch of new faces, to join a roster of lovable characters from the company who’s brought us so many. And who will inevitably bring us some Amiibo or other to go along with it, which is okay I guess. I’ll take one. Look how cool those Inklings are!
3. The everything else design is excellent
Along with new characters of course comes a new world for them to live in, and it’s shaping up to look like a great place to spend some time. Weapons are reminiscent of the same toys we all super-soaked and foam-darted each other with as kids, clothing is hip and current, and the environments look complex and rich with nooks to explore. And like much of the Wii U’s library before it, Splatoon looks set to give your HDTV a workout displaying a candy-like range of vibrant colors that aren’t brown.
More recent screenshots and videos are looking quite polished, (or less) which is a relief to me, because earlier builds had everything looking a little too shiny and plasticky in my opinion. They seem to have fixed that, and the closer we get to launch, the more tidbits are being dropped on the game’s official Tumblr and Twitter; every one like a cupcake you eat with your eyeballs. It’s a beautiful world and I can’t wait to get in there.
4. Strategic turf war gameplay without any macho garbage
Much like pomegranate juice, one of the things that makes this game so appealing to me is that it offers the tasty thing that I want, without having to dig through all the vapid rubbish that it’s usually encased in. If you know me at all, part of that is knowing that I really don’t like FPS war games. Or 3PS war games. …3rdPS. ThrPS. C3PO. I dunno what the shortened term is.
I’ve dabbled in stuff like COD and its ilk. My brother plays it. That theoretical guy who interrupted me at the beginning plays it. You probably play it. And that’s okay with me, not that it would matter if it wasn’t. But it is. Because honestly, on some level, I sorta get it.
Thing is, when you squeegee off the testosterone and look under all that war-glorifying soldier worship, there’s some skeletal frame at its core which appears theoretically capable of supporting… fun. The foundation is there, but people keep building military recruitment offices on it. That’s a huge can of worms I’m not going to open here, but let’s leave it at this: war isn’t “cool”. I’m not interested in perpetuating that juvenile idea by playing a game whose goal is to realistically simulate participation in one. Doesn’t interest me.
But as much as I hate those games, when I watch other people play them, I can understand why they enjoy what they’re doing. All that sneaking around to pick off opponents, controlling turf, cooperative battle tactics, all that room for developing strategy amongst teammates to conquer a common enemy… sounds… fun. There’s fun there. Lots of it. I can smell it. It doesn’t have to smell like gunpowder and charred human remains.
5. No macho garbage, but strategic turf war gameplay
Even if more conventional shooters do happen to be your cup of tea, Splatoon offers the same kind of action spun in new directions. The ability to super-jump to any spot on the map where your teammates are means you no longer have to waste time running half a mile back to where you just were. Tap another player’s icon on the gamepad and you can blast off from any spot on the map and get right to where the action is. Switching between humanoid and squid form allows you to hide in ink of your own color, swim through it at nearly double speed, climb walls, and pass through grates and fences to access new areas.
Unlike bullets, the ink that serves as both your turf marker and ammo is visible in its trajectory, so you know where your enemies are firing from. Stealth will revolve more around switching forms and having enough ground covered to afford you a place to hide. Victory will depend on your team’s ability to cover the most walkable ground, and cooperation is going to be key.
With a range of very unusual weapons to unlock, the path to glory is going to be different every time depending on how you and each of your teammates choose to gear up. One of the most remarked upon things from people who’ve played early builds of the game is that the tide of battle can flow back and forth by the second, so rounds of this are going to be exciting and fast-paced, requiring attention to what all 8 players are doing. Seasoned FPS players are no more likely to dominate the field in Splatoon than veteran racing sim players are to win at Mario Kart. It is in much the same way a familiar, yet entirely different experience.
Knowing it’s worked in franchises like Animal Crossing, Mario Kart and Pokemon, Nintendo has seen fit to similarly furnish Splatoon with a range of customization options for its weapons as well as its characters. There’s a headgear shop, shoe store, weapon store, and a clothing shop, with each one’s inventory changing from day to day. Not just for looking cool, each item carries with it some kind of stat boost, so it serves its function on the battlefield as well, like perhaps saving ink or making you faster.
Spendable currency is only unlocked in multiplayer mode, so the playing field should remain level gear-wise thanks to the matchmaking system. In other words, nobody is going to show up in the ultimate equipment and own the battle after grinding the night away in single player. If you want the goods, you’ll have to get out there and take your lumps with the rest of us. If you do want ’em, that is. I dunno, maybe it’s not all that important. I mean, stat boosts are cool, but who really wants to play dress-up with their videogame characters anyway?
Me. I like to play dress-up with my characters. You wanna take it outside?
7. This guy
Judd. Come on. At the end of a round, this tubby cat calls the winner, showing you what percentage of the field your team covered. That’s not a tuxedo, by the way, that’s how his fur is naturally patterned. It’s what he was born to do. Let the man do it.
8. The control scheme is going to work very, very well.
Among people who are familiar with it, one of the common concerns about the game is how it will use the Wii U Gamepad’s gyroscope for aiming. A valid thing to wonder about, and I would like to try and ease those fears by telling you that you may have alreay used this setup.
If you’ve played them, Wind Waker HD and Major’s Mask 3D use this same kind of scheme for Link’s bow and hookshot, and it’s marvelously intuitive. The right stick controls your aim as usual, but this can then be fine-tuned by tilting the controller. In Majora’s Mask 3D especially, I found this to be such a natural way to control the game that it’s spoiled me, and now it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.
In Splatoon‘s case, while I haven’t played it myself, I’ve seen enough footage of lucky others doing so without issue that I’m willing to bet this setup is going to be very comfortable, and will fit the game like a glove.
Still don’t like it? The controls are customizable.
9. The single-player campaign
Almost a whole other game in itself, Splatoon’s single-player mode has you sneaking into unfriendly territory to deal with the threat of a different kind of enemy, the Octarians. Under the guidance of the wise war veteran, Cap’n Cuttlefish, you’ll encounter the Octolings in their differing forms, along with bosses and platforming challenges, all while learning the ins and outs of how to get around and wreak havoc throughout the rest of the game.
There’s also reportedly a 1-on-1 couch multiplayer mode, but details have been pretty sparse on that front. We do know that one player will use the Gamepad while the other uses a Wii U Pro Controller, and both speculation and common sense would suggest that each player works with their own screen. We’ll have to wait and see about that. In any case, as this configuration obviously prevents anyone having a usable touchscreen, what we’re going to end up with is another, entirely different, third mode to play around with. [img]Stimpy-Oh-Joy.gif[/img]
10. The refreshing uniqueness of it all
It may be that what excites me most about Splatoon is no single thing from this list, but what they all come together to make. It’s not “A shooter where you can do this,” or “A platformer where you do that, with multiplayer.” Given what you now know about it, think of something to reasonably compare it to. I’ll wait.
Okay now i have to pee, so you wait.
Alright, I’m back.
Not so easy, huh? It isn’t very often that there’s a major, full retail release like this without a predecessor. Sure, at its core it’s a shooting game, but line it up with any selection of other titles in that genre and it sticks out like a sore tentacle.
“Super Mario Sunshine”,
that theoretical person shouts from their theoretical place,
“only like, multiplayer, with swimming through the stuff you shoot, and different weapons, and clothes that change your stats, and that pudgy cat from before…“
You’re not making sense, theoretical person, in your theoretical place, where I for some reason imagine it smells vaguely like Spaghettios, I dunno why.
Nah. It looks pretty unique to me. More than anything else, it looks fun, and endlessly replayable. I hope some of you reading this will give Splatoon a shot when it’s released in May. I’ll see you there.