When I first heard the announcement of Splatoon, the first thing that came to mind was a kid’s game that was on SMTV many years ago, but in fact, Splatoon is Nintendo’s first third person shooter on the Wii U. In Splatoon, you play as an ‘Inkling’ that can change between squid and humanoid form and shoot ink to splat your foes, cover territory and solve puzzles.
From the moment you start the game, you first choose how you want your own inkling to look before being dropped into Inkopolis plaza. This serves as the main hub for the game, where you can seamlessly access the different game types and modes, as well as visiting the shops and seeing other players you’ve encountered online.
There are multiple game modes in Splatoon, all of which you can play at any time by walking up to the different entrances in the plaza. The main Single Player mode has you going on a set of missions where you’ve got to rescue the Zapfish from the Octarians. This is more based around platforming and using your ink based weaponry to solve mini puzzles where the aim is to reach your goal by defeating enemies and overcoming obstacles.
With almost 30 missions to complete, the single player mode serves as a great way to learn the ropes and the gradual increase in difficulty helps to ease you into learning the different abilities and ways to tackle obstacles. It starts off pretty easy but by the time you get half way through you’ll see some brilliantly designed platforming levels and challenging obstacles.
By going into the ‘Inkopolis Tower’ you can go online for the main multiplayer modes where you can play online with friends and other players in 4 v 4 Turf War matches, a.k.a ‘Regular battles’. Once you reach level 20 after earning enough points in turf war you take on the world in Ranked battles which currently contain two different types of multiplayer battle for you to play.
You use your Wii pad to move the camera about and where to aim and hit. It did take me a few rounds to get used to it as I had to learn how to keep it in one spot and not go crazy with moving it too much. The motion controls worked surprisingly well but you always have the option to disable that feature if you choose.
For your first online battles, your inkling starts off with the standard weapons and clothes and as you level up, you unlock items to help your Inkling get stronger in battle. My favourite item of choice for turf war is the ink brush as you can mark more territory.
Once you start taking part in online battles you start to improve on what to do, where to go and find out which weapon suits you. As the rounds progressed I found myself wanting to play more even though there were only two levels in rotation at any time. That first victory is ever so sweet when you see the hard work you and your team have done to secure it. The fact that it’s fun to play, even if you aren’t big on other shooters makes you want to play round after round.
Outside of the main turf war mode, you have the Ranked battles: Splat Zones and Tower Control, which was added recently. Instead of having you just compete to cover the most area with your team’s ink, these battles change the rules to give a completely different game play experience. In Splat Zones, your team needs to control a specific area on the map while a timer counts down from 100 when it’s under your control. The newer of the two game types, Tower Control has the two teams competing to get a moving tower into their base, by standing on the tower platform to make it move along a set path. Both of these Ranked modes require a bit more strategy than the standard Turf War mode and since you don’t get any points if your team looses, everyone needs to try their best in order to win.
The gradual roll-out of free content unlocks following the game’s release gives an incentive to keep coming back to check out the new maps and weapons that have been added at regular intervals for the past few weeks. The game only had a handful of maps to play in multiplayer at launch and only turf war was playable, but thankfully that has been gradually increasing, with more content announced to be coming in future updates. Hopefully Nintendo continue to support Splatoon with more updates to add more variety to the map selections.
The designs of the Inklings are really cool, even the amiibo to go with the game are amazing. The idea to change into a squid to refill your ink, climb walls and move a lot faster in the game (if it is your team colour) is genius. You can make your Inkling look more fashionable with the clothes you can equip them with but you need to do a bit of leveling up before they even allow you in the shop, makes me think of the time in Pokemon X/Y when they would let you shop in Luminose City because you weren’t cool enough.