Over the past year, I have been very interested in the upcoming team-based, third-person shooter Splatoon, and I was avidly awaiting the chance to finally pick up and play the game. Earlier this month, at WonderCon 2015, I had my first opportunity to actually play Nintendo’s Splatoon. I am a huge Nintendo fan, and I have been happy to see Nintendo turn things around recently. 2014 was a great year for Nintendo after some rough times with the launch of the Wii U. Nintendo produced a number of hits last year, such as Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS and Hyrule Warriors. Not to mention, Nintendo found a license to print money with the Amiibo figurines. Things are definitely looking up for Nintendo, and Splatoon looks like no exception to that rule.
I would describe Splatoon as a very light and fun, casual gameplay experience. Based on the demo that was available at the convention, Splatoon would be a great game for kids and families to play together. In addition, It appears that Splatoon will provide lucrative opportunities for e-sports and competitive gaming tournaments. The demo featured one of the game’s team vs. team battles. In short, two opposing game teams of Inklings, humanoids that have the ability to turn into squids, take the stage for an epic game of paintball. Or, I suppose in the case of Splatoon, it is a game of inkball. For the Turf War mode that was available to play for the demo, the goal of the battle was to cover as much of the area as possible with your team’s ink color of choice. Along the way, the opponents will have to eliminate the other team’s Inklings to get points and weapon upgrades.
In addition to the combat, players can traverse the ground more quickly by transforming into a squid. However, if the player’s Inkling wanders into the ink color of an opposing team, it will cause damage. The ink tanks for the Inklings only have a limited amount of ink. At points in the battle, you do have to take the time to reload the ink supply. I like this feature because you do have to work a little harder than just splattering ink everywhere. There is a particularly fun feature in which the GamePad allows the Inkling to find a team partner on the game map and make a daring cannonball-like dive to that area.
For the most part, the shooting and combat mechanics were enjoyable. I will admit that, at times, I did have some trouble adjusting to using the Wii U GamePad as the controller because the Wii U is the aiming mechanism. Players will control the aim of their personal Inkling by aiming and pointing the Wii U pad. So, that could be a potential issue for the controls if you are not yet used to motion controls or the Wii U GamePad.
Regarding the demo, the controls were fairly smooth and responsive. Graphics and visuals were fairly crisp, and I did not notice any major bugs. I really like the design and overall look of the game. It is very colorful, stylized and charmingly unique. This might be an odd comparison, but the game has a certain nostalgic quality to it. The battles somewhat reminded me of playing Battle Mode in the Bomberman games. Sometimes people forget how clever, unique and ingenious the versus modes were in the classic Super NES games. Splatoon definitely appears to be another potential classic and hit for Nintendo.
Splatoon is scheduled for a May 29 release on the Nintendo Wii U.