If you can take away one thing from the disappointment that was the Wii U, it’s that it had Splatoon. While I skipped the last gen Nintendo console I was always very curious about the funny little team based “shooter.” It always seemed like a fun, unique game. It wasn’t until I was watching some friends play it during an Extra Life event that I soon developed console envy. With the Switch and Splatoon 2 I finally get to see if it was really as fun as it looked.
The concept of Splatoon is simple. You play as “squid kids” on a team of four in an fast paced online battle to control the majority of a map with your ink. To do this you’re offered an assortment of different gear sets unlocked through leveling up and purchased in Inkopolis Square. Gear sets consist of a main ink distributor, a throw able (like a grenade), and a special move. There are a variety of different ink themed weapons to choose from ranging from a super soaker looking device to a giant paint roller or a simple paint bucket. Players use these gear sets to cover as much of the map as possible with the their teams ink. Whoever splattered the most wins the round. All of this keeps with the friendly, family themed aesthetic built into the Nintendo culture while adding depth and strategy needed to compete with other online competitive games. In addition to the gear sets you can buy and equip “fresh” new shoes, shirts and hats all with different perks like refilling your ink faster, ink management, and ink resistance.
Inkopolis Square serves as the games hub. From here players can shop for gear, enter the games various modes (Multiplayer, Story, and Co-op) and see other players avatars. The story mode is robust and not only serves as a way to get your tentacles wet, but also test out the gear sets you can later purchase, earn currency, and perfect your skills once the story mode kicks off the training wheels. Each of the stories five worlds culminate in an epic boss battle that tests the skills you honed in the previous levels once you’ve saved the Zapfish from the Octarian scourge. While at times I feel like i missed some lore not playing the original, it never stopped me from getting into it and enjoying the story. Salmon Run is where you can team of with up to three other players and face of against waves of salmonids. Think of it as a typical horde mode with sea puns. The Multiplayer, as previously discussed, is the meat of the game. The standard is Turf War but there is also ranked, even a league. While all of my time spent in multiplayer was pre-launch it never felt like matchmaking took an unbearable amount of time given the limited number of players. Hopefully once the game finally launches there won’t be any issue.
The whole design of Splatoon 2 is is rich and vibrant. The art style is wonderful. In both handheld and docked play I found myself staring at the ink splattering. Whether it was the first splat on a new map or the effects of inking over the opposing teams ink, it all looked mesmerizing and beautiful. Character models look rich and fun and the unlockables only add to the style of the game. The sound design of the game was fun. The vibe of the world is that of a hip, fresh, subculture in a big city and the music captures that. Most of the music reminded me of fun early 80/90’s rock punk with a techno pace. I even found myself humming out some of the music while not playing the game.
Splatoon makes use of the Switches motion controls for aiming and suggests them as the default. I found them to be intuitive but based on my play style it is something that I chose to turn off in handheld mode. I can see how, once you get used to them, it would give you a bit of an advantage thus being the default mode. The rest of the controls never felt frustrating or out of place. Again with Nintendo their aim seems to be on making their library of games as accessible and easy to pick up as possible.
Overall I really enjoyed my time in the world of Splatoon 2 and I look forward to spending even more time with it. I look forward to seeing how deep the multiplayer can get once people have been playing for awhile. I look forward to hopping on for a quick match when my time is limited and when it isn’t playing for hours. Switch owners looking for the next great game should pick this one up. If your house has grown to love the library of family friendly games this should be in your collection. My two young daughters (five and three) have enjoyed watching me play it and love the characters and overall look of it. It isn’t as kid friendly control wise as Mario Kart is. So if you have kids in your house six or younger it probably won’t be for them to play but fine to watch. Any older and I think this would be right up their alley. Look for Splatoon 2 when it release to retail July 21st.