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Splatoon Review

Nintendo is about to make a splash thanks to the release of its new Wii U title, Splatoon. Those who have heard of the game may think of it as Nintendo’s first true crack at an online multiplayer shooter, but it’s so much more, thanks to a fully fleshed out campaign and the charm that only Nintendo can bring to gaming.

For those who have not heard of Splatoon, the premise is quite simple. In essence the game is a third person shooter, which sees you take control of a male or female squid-human, taking out the enemies with your coloured-ink armed weapons, while at the same time trying to cover the arena in with your ink, which in turn allows you to get around faster in your squid-like form and reload your ink tank (your ammo) at the same time. To counter this, the enemy has a different coloured ink, so if hit you’ll be in trouble and if caught in their ink, your character will slow down, so you’ll need to make sure that the only colour under your feet is your own.

There’s a lot to love about Splatoon. The campaign for instance, focuses on what’s great about platform style games, offering up a wide variety of challenges, enemies and levels, all of which get tricker and more complex as you play through them. While things start off simply enough with you firing coloured ink to destroy the enemies, soon things get more complicated as platforms move or new obstacles come into play, cleaning away your paint and hindering you from reaching higher platforms, unless of course you are fast or tactically astute. Further into the campaign, platforms are hidden altogether, meaning that you have to cover them with your paint, seeing you walking along narrow paths, while at the same time trying to take out the various enemies. It get’s tricker still as The Octarian Army throw even more obstacles in your way, all while you traverse ziplines, the moving platforms, and try to avoid the almost nuclear blasts of enemy paint which are coming your way.

The campaign is quite a long one and it's very fun to take part in, especially when you get to the end of level bosses, who all have the classic three hit rule. The first boss is a large cube like creature which you have to hit, then cover in paint in to climb up and pull off that killer blow. Of course you need to do this three times and it gets tougher with each hit. Things don’t get easier as you move on to even tricker bosses, although I won’t spoil the surprises to come, other than to say that each is very memorable and worth the challenge you’ll go through to reach them.

There are some frustrations to the single player, although it’s nothing major. It’s just that when you are in the hub world, you’ll need to uncover the portals in order to access the levels. While it’s fun painting the world and trying to find them, Nintendo has hidden them well, so you will spend a lot of time in between looking. Nothing major as I say, but just be aware that it can be a little time consuming.

While it’s fantastic fun playing through the single player campaign, Nintendo also seems to have captured the same sense of enjoyment in the multiplayer. The object of the main multiplayer mode, known as Turf Wars, is to paint as much of an arena as possible in your team's colourful ink in order to defeat the other team. The team with the most ink on the arena at the end of three minutes will be the victors.

As mentioned, the more of the arena that is coloured in your ink, the faster you will get around. There are shortcuts too, so if the enemy takes you down you can simply touch the screen of the gamepad to jump straight to a teammate. As you play through and level up, you’ll earn cash which can be spent on bigger and better weapons, as well as customisations such as headgear, new shoes and clothing. The weapons are the main draw of course, giving you access to the Splattershot and the Splattershot Jnr, which are your standard weapons, while there is also the longer range Splat Charger, and the Splat Roller, which is basically a huge roller that allows you to cover more of the arena at a greater rate, although while you can hit the enemy with it, as you would expect it’s a little slower. There’s plenty of other weapons too and some of those mentioned even get modified later on, making them more effective.

In addition to Turf War, there will be other online modes too, although during testing over the last few weeks I only got to play the latter. In either case, I do know some details of the other modes, such as Tower Control, where you fight to control a tower; If you have control then you need to ride it through enemy territory, while your teammates defend you from attack and once you get to the goal, your teams wins. Other modes planned by Nintendo include Splatfest, which splits players into two teams, with the winners reward being Super Sea Snails, an item needed to re-roll special abilities for your equipment. The other mode is Rainmaker, although not a lot is known about it.

Multiplayer isn’t without its issues. Once you are in a match lobby you can’t quit out without quitting the game completely. In addition, you are unable to change weapons during a match, so you’ll need to quit all the way out to the main hub, change weapons and then go back into multiplayer mode again. Matches are also pretty unbalanced, as those who are a higher level have better weapons, making it harder to win. Perhaps Nintendo needs to think of a way to balance the higher level players between the teams. These are all minor issues that can be easily fixed, however at this moment in time they are a source of a little frustration.

In addition to the Single and Multiplayer modes, Nintendo has also included an amiibo mode and a Battle Dojo. The latter sees one player using the gamepad and the other a controller. The aim here is to pop more balloons than your opponent, with the first player to reach 30 points being the winner. Amiibo mode is not something we have been able to test at the time of writing, however if you purchase either the Inkling Boy, Inkling Girl or Inkling Squid you’ll be granted an extra 20 challenges. Winning these challenges will get you exclusive amiibo-only equipment, such as different weapons, headgear, and clothing.

Splatoon is such a fun game to play, which is probably why the Wii U now sits proudly in my living room. The console had a lack of use in recent months, however this game is a breath of fresh air and its loved by both me and my children. If it had more content then I would go as far as to say that Splatoon is the best Nintendo game in years and a must buy for anyone who owns a Wii U. Perhaps that's something I'll say when Nintendo releases the free DLC for the game later this year.

Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta


+ Fantastic single player mode
+ Multiplayer is fun and a little different
+ Very colourful and looks great
+ Interesting take on online multiplayer shooters


- Single player levels can be tricky to find
- No option to change weapons once in online lobby
- No way to quit online match
- Online Matches feel unbalanced
- Lack of online modes and content at launch

Edited On 27 May, 2015

( 2 )
Dead's avatar
Dead 2 years ago
I feel sorry for anyone who ordered the special edition from GAME, they lost their entire shipment from Nintendo.
Anonymous user's avatar
PHILIP 2 years ago
Can't order this as I've just been told "I may get it for my birthday" which I know means I've got it coming :-) Will have to wait till 7th June for it now but am looking forward to it looks very colourful and new.

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