Nintendo’s newest original intellectual property hit stores last week for the Wii U console, but was it another success for this titan of the game industry?  Let’s dive in and find out.

I’ll start off by saying that this is an initial review, as I’ve only had the game for a few days and haven’t had a chance to unlock all of the weapons or gameplay modes just yet, pesky real-job keeps getting in the way.  Splatoon is a third person shooter that drops you into the role of a squid-kid… or kid-squid, depending on how you look at it, in the fictional city of Inkopolis.  In the center of the city, there are a few different things you can do.  You can go directly to the tower to battle it out online in teams of 4, you can go down a back alley to find the game’s campaign/story mode, you can visit the Battle Dojo for local multiplayer, or you can check out the local shops to make your appearance more fresh and get different weapons.

The online, 4 vs. 4 battle mode was clearly the main focus of the game, as it literally points you in that direction as soon as you put the disc in.  Undoubtedly, that focus is because it’s the most enjoyable part of the game.  The primary goal in these battles is to cover as much territory as possible on the map with your color ink.  It’s as simple as that.  Now, if you should manage to shoot members of the opposing team in the process, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s all part of the fun, but if you make that your main goal, you probably won’t win many matches.  The other interesting bit about the game, is how you can turn yourself into a squid to travel faster by swimming through the ink and up walls as long as you stay in your color ink.  If you cross into enemy colored ink, you move significantly slower AND take damage.  You can spread your color in a variety of ways.  There are different guns, ink bombs, and rollers to use, plus a few different special weapons that unleash massive amounts of color upon the maps.

Nintendo nailed the online play with this game.  Action is frantic and fun with a charming, kid-friendly aesthetic.  Also, this is definitely the smoothest of all Nintendo’s online gaming experiences so far.  At this point I’ve yet to wait for more than 2 minutes to be placed in a battle, and there have been zero lags during play, which is a massive improvement over my online experience in Super Smash Bros. Wii U.  The only drawback here is that there is no way to communicate with your teammates during the battle, so forming a strategy is practically impossible, then again, the battles don’t really last that long to begin with, so it’s not terrible.

The single player game is adequate.  You get a kiddy story about how the “Octonarians” a rival to the people of Inkopolis, stole the Zapfish that were used to power certain parts of the city.  It plays a lot like a Mario game, where you play three to four levels, then face a massive boss character who has a relatively simple puzzle to solve as far as attacking it goes.  It’s not really lacking in fun, but there’s nothing fantastic about it either.  Like I said before, this clearly was not the primary focus of the designers, to even get to the campaign mode, you have to go down a side alley and into what looks like a sewer on the outer edges of the city center.

Onto what is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game, the local multiplayer.  This is usually an area where Nintendo excels.  They’ve built a reputation on having a bunch of friends in a room together playing video games.  Which is why it’s so surprising to see that local multiplayer mode for Splatoon is limited to 1 vs. 1.  One person uses the game pad, and the other uses the TV screen.  My guess would be so that each person can have one full screen to themselves, which I understand, but it doesn’t really make it any less of a let down.  I feel like this game would be a blast with four people playing at once in the same room.  It’s definitely not a party game, like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros.

All in all, I’ve found Splatoon to be a super fun experience that I plan to keep playing for a while, but a severely limited local multiplayer option keeps this from being a truly amazing game in my opinion.

The Verdict for Splatoon:
I can dig it.

Until next time,
Stay nerdy, my friends.

Upcoming reviews:
East of West, Volume 3: There Is No Us TPB
Secret Wars #3
Secret Wars: Battleworld #2
Wytches #1-#6
March of the Crabs, Volume 1: The Crabby Condition


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