Nintendo’s secret weapon

Game reviews

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Splatoon, Nintendo, 2015.

Don’t be fooled by the cover, Nintendo’s Splatoon emerged as a complete surprise and one of the biggest stories of 2015 in the gaming community.

This charming, colourful, innocent looking game ended up being the year’s best titles across all video games platforms. Who could’ve seen it coming? Splatoon is a 3rd person shooter cleverly disguised as a cartoonish game for kids. One online session will prove that it is much more than a title for kids, the buzz around Splatoon is justified. The quickly became one of my favourite new titles to play. Splatoon is an effective, yet harmless shooting game. Upon purchase, I stayed up until 2 a.m. playing against gamers from all over the world.

It looks too cute too be a truly effective shooter, but it is. Splatoon is very reminiscent of paintball. Players are split into teams where the goal is to paint a larger portion of the map than your opponents. It’s incredibly satisfying to splatter paint on an unexpecting opponent and see them disappear. The characters you play as are hybrid humans/squids. As a squid you can travel through the ink much faster and replenish your ink supplies. It’s as a human that you deal damage to enemies and paint the field. It sounds a little odd and quirky at first, as soon as you play a round, you’re hopelessly hooked.

The array of weapons to use like the Splater -And a gun that looks like the Nintendo Zapper of all things- add variation to the game. Weapons are very unique to anything I’ve ever seen, unlike some games where there is very little difference from one to another. Customizing your character is neat. With the money you earn from battles you can buy shoes, shirt, hair, glasses, bandana etc. at the shop. There are tons of options for customizations which only adds to the game.

Online play is where it’s at. While I wish there were options for customizations the gameplay is perfect and the action will keep you playing “just one more game”. The levels are cleverly designed and all are different from another. Just as any good online play, it’s challenging and frustrating. The real fun begins when you reach level 10 and more options become available to you. I just wish you could select maps/levels in the meantime.

The Splatfests held every month are very interactive and add to the experience of Platoon. Every month, players can go online and cast their vote to be a part of one two teams in the Splatfest. Gamers can chose if they wish to be on team Pokemon Red or team Pokemon Blue for instance, or Past vs Future etc. Then the player competes online on the day of the event for his team in hopes to win. It’s a very social component of the game. Nintendo has been criticized for the Wii’s online portion, but Splatoon is one of the best online experiences I’ve ever had with a game by far.

The story mode is where Splatoon doesn’t quite succeed. It’s a very quick play and I’d be surprised if it took the average player more than 10 hours. It’s simply nothing to write home about. In comparison to online play, it’s a little tame in comparison. The real meat of the game is playing online with players from all around the world.

Multiplayer is a disappointment on all front. When you have a rare gem of a game that is fun with competitive gameplay and action, you might want to capitalize with it’s multiplayer mode. Sadly, multiplayer is boring and offers very little. If there was one aspect of the game I expected more from it was multiplayer. A multiplayer mode that makes single play look that much better is an unfortunate thing. It could’ve pushed the game to an even higher level.

Splatoon‘s gameplay and endless hours of fun it provides makes the game an essential Wii U title. Where the game lacks is in story and especially multiplayer mode. I can forgive a so-so story play, but multiplayer in this game is almost a sin. In terms of fun, it’s a surefire 5 star title. However the other elements bring it down to a 4 star rating in my book.

I think Nintendo has potentially stumbled onto their next big franchise. Is it to early to ask  for Splatoon 2?

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