The reason I haven’t been blooging much as of late, aside from having a lot of editorial articles to write for Arcade Heroes (which always gets my priority) is Splatoon soaking up my time.
Quick answer: Excellent game that is worth buying
The WiiU has needed something like this since the beginning and while it does fit into the “Nintendo is for kids!” line of thinking, it doesn’t kill an adult to play something with some actual color to it once in a while. The dynamic of using your shots to allow your character to reach new places is innovative and it works out as a good replacement for the “wall running” stuff that Prince of Persia made popular years ago.
Graphically its a great game, the lighting effects which Nintendo tends to be really good at helps make up for something like a lack of super complex geometry. The frame rate is a solid 60 in single player (a little slower online, which happens with any online game with connection issues, which I have had a few of lately). The way they went about the environment design pulls from using Super Mario Galaxy for inspiration and it works well. I can see why they were thinking of making this a Mario based game but I am glad that they didn’t. One can only take so much Mario (or any other IP that gets overused) before you want something else. While mentioning the graphics, I should also mention the music is great, the rock style and high tempo fits the shooting mood. This game is a really nice change of pace from the dark and dreary shooters that typically dominate the landscape (granted it is not completely alone – Minimum is a great shooter that came along recently. It is very colorful but it has received a small fraction of the press that Splatoon has enjoyed)
I have not played too many shooters that use gyro controls so that has taken some getting used to but it works great once that familiarity sets in. I just wonder why they don’t allow Wii/Nunchuk controls, which excepting first generation Wii titles I always found to work better than the analog route (blasphemy, I know). After playing with the gamepad though, I can’t play Splatoon with the Pro Controller – that slower analog after the gyro just kills it for me.
The game isn’t without a few faults – most complain about the lack of voice chat, which you can overcome if playing with friends, just do a conference call on Skype. But for the many times you will play with random people, I have found it frustrating that there is no way to really communicate a strategy. One would think that it would be obvious that the key to victory is to COVER MORE GROUND IN INK THAN THE OPPOSING TEAM but I have played several matches where apparently my teammates are under the impression that its all about straight team deathmatch so all they do is try and squabble over a small piece of ground and getting kills. That can be frustrating. At least allow some better text options or let you write your own (like in Wii Sports Club) to get the message across.
Matchmaking has improved since the beginning so it looks like they are fine tuning that – combining Level 4 people with Level 20 people never works in any game. I do like that levels are used to unlock new weapons and clothes and that the clothers serve as the perks for this game. I think some balancing needs to be done with the weapons (or at least an option to pick more than one Sub-Weapon option as I would use certain guns if it had a Seeker or a Bomb instead of the Disrupter as an example).
I also wouldn’t mind it rotating to different maps more frequently – sometimes you can play the same map 5 times in a row and after a few days, that stale feeling pops up faster if it is a map you don’t care for. I get that its so that everyone learns the maps but if you are quick on picking that sort of thing up, it is easy to burnout just as quickly. Still, they are adding free maps into the rotation and the layouts are pretty cool. Hopefully other game modes will be up soon.
Do note that the single player campaign is relatively short, maybe not The Order 1886 short but short nonetheless. That seems to be the case with any shooter anymore and I imagine that most development time has been spent for the online stuff. It would be cool if the multiplayer maps would use some elements of the single player like the sponges or switches, perhaps they will in time.
Overall, I would recommend this game to anyone interested in shooters or that has a WiiU. It is a great title for the WiiU library (strengthening the case to own the console, which has a lot of A grade exclusives as opposed to legions of ‘the best port’ titles), innovative and fresh among shooting games so worth checking out.