With rare exception, I’ve never been a fan of FPS. Nor of games that have arena team combat. Goldeneye’s one of my favorite games of all time, but that’s very much an exception. There’s many reasons I don’t generally care for this style of games; one of the main ones is that these types of games often take themselves too seriously – I don’t really have a desire to pretend like I’m in an actual war zone as a marine. It might sound a little conflicting, but it also might have something to do with the graphical prowess of modern gaming consoles – somehow the more realistic detail actually makes realistic combat games less enjoyable to me. Splatoon solves all of my problems with action shooters in typical Nintendo-style innovative glory.
Seeing this game for the first time at 2014’s E3, I was immediately intrigued. Even though it might be a perfectly competent arena shooter at the end of the day, it feels like as a player you’ll have the option to take it as seriously as you want. The game’s brilliantly vibrant color scheme takes me out of the cold, hard world of modern shooters and into the fantasy environment where I feel at home while gaming.
Creating this effect was no small task – it’s not just a matter of slapping a coat of paint on some cartoon characters and calling it a day. Especially considering this is a new IP with characters we haven’t yet grown to care about, the crafting of each character’s persona is essential to establishing the right mood. And again, the creators of Splatoon nailed it. Each character model has just the right mix of spunk and grit, of playfulness and determination. And if you’re not happy with some aspect, you have the freedom to customize, which was another wise decision to make a game like this work well.
Aside from atmosphere, of course gameplay is at the center of any great game, and Splatoon seems to deliver in that department as well. Not content with conventional mechanics, one game mode involves spreading ink around an arena in an attempt to cover the most territory. The ink can be used in other ways as well, including charging up your weapon and quickly moving from one area to another. You can also strategically use ink to prevent an opponent from traveling a certain path. These are just a few of the innovative ideas that will allow for unique level designs and an interesting variety of modes.
Splatoon will also use the gamepad in an interesting and essential way. Not content with simply featuring a map on the gamepad screen, the tablet controller will allow players to jump to different parts of the map by touching the area occupied by a friendly teammate. This again seems like a welcome addition to the formula that could spice things up considerable.
As icing on the cake, Splatoon will have a single player campaign. We haven’t heard many details about this, but it’s a welcome addition to what seems to be an excellent multiplayer experience. Taking a look at the video in the provided link, it’s another aspect of the game that I’m genuinely excited about. The single-player campaign seems to have all kinds of little quirks, such as a little 8-bit nod you’ll see in the middle of the video around 1:04.
A small reservation is the absence of voice chat during the game. Asked about this, their Twitter handle responded “This isn’t Call of Duty, we’d prefer not to have 12 year old kids talking about everyone’s mothers over a game.” While I sympathize with their point, I also feel that voice chat would make this a much stronger game. I’m a responsible adult in my 30’s who simply wants to be able to talk to others during these styles of matches. It is annoying that I have to dial in my friends via Google Hangouts if I want to talk during Mario Kart 8 or Super Smash Bros gameplay, and I’ll feel the same way with this game. It’s not the end of the world. I realize that other Nintendo games only offer this in limited circumstances as well due to their focus on family-friendly atmopheres, and that they offer online functionality for free and can’t be expected to provide all the bells and whistles that would be ideal. Nevertheless, I think I would enjoy it more if it had voice chat as an option.
Regardless, I’m very excited about Splatoon, and will definitely pick it up at release. It’s a fresh take on a fun gameplay style that I otherwise would miss out on, and it’s gorgeous presentation and style make it a can’t miss game for 2015.
Are you excited for Splatoon? Sound off in the comments below.