Developer(s) – Nintendo EAD Group No. 2
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Director(s) – Yusuke Amano & Tsubasa Sakaguchi
PEGI – 7
The newest IP to come out of Nintendo, Splatoon is the Japanese gaming giant’s answer to the likes of Call of Duty or Battlefield, offering players a non-violent third-person shooting game, in which the objective is drastically different from either of the two aforementioned examples or any other game made in the same vein. Though I don’t think it’ll probably get anywhere near as much the attention as it deserves, it’s more than a substitute for the generic army game; it’s far better than any of them.
Graphics – 7/10
Aside from the game featuring a vast array of colors, giving the game an extremely vibrant feel, the conceptual design of each stage is quite interesting regardless of a couple of recycled elements. But much more significant than that are the subtle cultural references that have been alluded to in the design of the male and female characters. Aside from the character’s elaborate resemblances to their squid counterparts; humans shapeshifting into animals has been associated with Japanese folklore and Shintoism for centuries; the most prominent example being the story of Amaterasu. I’ve seen other examples in other Japanese media, such as in the film Pom Poko example, but it’s interesting to see how subtly it’s perpetuated in this game.
Gameplay – 8.5/10
As well as the visual design had some very clever thought behind it, more careful consideration went into the concept of gameplay, and therefore, a great deal of fun can be had out of it. The concept of the game is to use a variety of paint-based weapons to cover more of the designated stage in their color paint than the opposition can in theirs. There’s also a single-player mode, but for once, this is a game that does online multiplayer particularly well. I’ve never been a fan of playing video games online, save for in the Mario Kart series, but very few online games have captivated me as Splatoon has done.
Controls – 9/10
For the most part, there are no issues with the game’s controls. The Wii U’s GamePad functions are actually put to quite good use; particularly since while players are waiting for a match to load up, they can also play an additional arcade game reminiscent of Ice Climber on it whilst waiting. The one thing I would advise players to do, however, would be to turn off the motion control feature before playing, since I personally found that it could become more of a hindrance rather than an attention-grabber, and over time, could possibly end up frustrating players.
Originality – 8/10
Uniqueness is a key factor that in my opinion, many mainstream shooters have been lacking in recent years. There were a few that stood out in the seventh generation of gaming, such as BioShock, Rage, and Borderlands, but if others stood out, it could have been for wrong reasons; a prominent example of that being Brink. But Splatoon stands out not only from most shooters but from most other video games. For something that may look silly and childish at first glance, there is in fact, an extremely interesting gaming experience to be had when exploring further into it.
In summation, Splatoon is most definitely worth a try, and another reason why the Wii U is a better console than its sales figures suggest. It could be argued that Nintendo has neglected to incorporate innovation in recent years, but this game is a prime example that they still aren’t afraid to try new things.