Splatoon-Box-Art-Image-01Guess what? It turns out those scientist were right; Global Warming is actually a thing…who would’ve thought…right? So a few thousand years from now a bunch of ice around the Earth is going to start to melt and that’s going to cause the oceans to rise or something along those lines. Do remember; our planet is something like seventy percent water so us land-dwellers are already close to being “drowned out“, excuse my unnecessary but well-placed pun.

It sucks pretty hard when you think about the human race drowning, but there IS something called evolution that has worked before and dammit I think it’ll work again. Now that the planet is mostly water, aquatic creatures begin to change and move up onto whatever land is left over just to see what all the fuss is about. Squids begin changing into half-human hybrids and, for some reason, Octopi followed suit.

Neither of them like the other and seeing as they’re the most advanced creatures on the planet Earth of course they resort to violence to sort things out once and for all. There was a war, the Octopi were defeated, and the Squid reign supreme…but there’s still a small faction of them living under ground attempting to rise up, quite literally, and take back what is theres. THIS, in a roundabout way, is the story of Nintendo’s latest and most exciting IP Splatoon and, honestly, it’s about all that is necessary to justify what goes on in this new title.

Now what’s fantastic about Splatoon’s story is the way in which it is delivered to you, the player. While there is a character who will explain to you the background of the modern Inkling world, more is uncovered as you search for hidden scrolls throughout missions which, with the use of a simple walkthrough, wont make your gameplay experience much harder. Once found, these scrolls will divulge a little extra information regarding the story and just how it was that the world developed into what it is today.

Because a great deal of the focus in Splatoon is on multiplayer warfare, it’s kind of easy to miss out on the single player campaign but it most certainly is there and it is most certainly a necessity to be able to enjoy Splatoon as a whole. On the surface, it doesn’t seem as though Splatoon features a developed story but if you just dig a little deeper you’ll uncover some juicy fictional history that will really make you think twice about the world of this vibrant third-person shooter. Remember…the world of Splatoon saw the beginning and end of an actual war. That’s nothing to simply look past.

Splatoon, like any standard video game, features a small cast of non-playable characters that mostly work to sell you equip-able items throughout your time with the game. What I find so heart-warming and very surprising is that Nintendo have managed to make these characters overly likeable in such subtle ways. Whether your favorite is the coy sea anemone Annie or the borderline  borderline-incomprehensible Jelonzo, chances are you came to like them through the small interactions your character and they will share while simply purchasing a new shirt, new kicks, or a new weapon. I actually get excited when a new day begins and the stores have been restocked because I get to go hang out with Crusty Sean for thirty seconds.

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Much like that of the new title’s story, Splatoon’s gameplay mechanics play jump rope with the line between rudimentary and complex. With three different weapon types available to equip to your Inkling, it may not seem as though tactical thinking belongs in the 4-on-4 matches and, to a certain degree, that thought is correct. On the other hand though…it is entirely incorrect. Thus is the contradictory nature of this messy title.

The aim of the game, as of this point in time, is to simply ink as much of the battlefield as you possibly can. Those who’ve spread the most ink will earn the most points and therefor take home the trophy. Another way to boost individual points is to eliminate members of the other team. While kills do grant you more experience so you can level up and unlock new weapons, they alone don’t help you win the match; it is all about marking your territory.

Now depending on what weapon you decide to use, you may play a match in a few different ways. Those who use the Splat Rollers may choose to focus on covering as much of the ground as they possibly can, those who use the Splattershot and it’s variations may choose to go on ahead and engage the enemy early, those using the long-range line of Splat Chargers may want to find high ground and lay down some cover fire…OR you can choose a weapon that simply looks the coolest and run around doing whatever the heck you please.

Either way, you’re most likely going to have a good time. I happen to use the Splat Roller and I try to go about every match in a very methodical way; I take my time and focus on inking before fighting. Fellow writer Luke Halliday chooses to instead run around like a maniac with his finger glued to the trigger. Despite the difference in play styles, we both have just as much fun, making Splatoon incredibly accessible for all types of gamers.

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Splatoon at this point in time has a pretty adequate multiplayer system: Games only go for a couple of minutes at a time, there’s no voice chat for people to let loose on, new maps are designated daily, and there’s even a Ranked Mode for the overly competitive players to bite into. Getting put into a 4-on-4 match takes less than thirty seconds and within a full minute you’ll find yourself already starting a new match. Now essentially there are only two game modes: A Regular Match will have you thrown into a Turf War and a Ranked Match will have you playing a capture the flag-type game called Splat Zone.

As of right now…that’s about it, but it’s just enough to keep people playing over and over again for hours on end. I believe it is because of the quick matches and the map rotations because they continue to keep things fresh BUT I can see some problems arising in the future when the game has been out for a few months and nothing much has changed. Fact is; Nintendo have already stated that this will be a game to expand on now that it is released so I highly doubt they will let it go stale.

The one thing I dislike about the online multiplayer in Splatoon is that, as of right now, there is no way for you to create a party with your friends and all head into one match. Matchmaking is a little sloppy seeing as, if you’d like to play with a group of friends, one of them has to enter a match and the others must individually join that single person. They then have to sit in a waiting room until a spot on the team is free. Thankfully I’ve never had to wait more than three minutes which shows that even Splatoon’s negatives have positive sides. Once again, Nintendo have already addressed this and, come August, a new feature will be added that will allow us to do exactly what it was I detailed above but until that IS released…we still have to deal with this odd team matchmaking system.

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As a video game that revolves itself around spreading colourful ink, Splatoon has some incredible visuals. Not since the Jet Set Radio days have I witnessed such amazingly vibrant colours, all of which fit in together despite being so overtly conflicting. Being on the Wii U, Splatoon plays host to some incredibly polished characters models and environments, all of which give off such an “urban” vibe which is, once again, something that doesn’t feature as much as you’d like it to in more contemporary games. With so many equip-able clothing items, all designed in amazingly tasteful ways, it’s hard to get bored of the game’s visuals because, well…they’re always changing. There’s so much attention to detail, there have even been times wherein which I’ve sat in the overworld and simply looked into the sky or out into the background layers of the environment. There’s so much to see and there’s absolutely no way you can see it all.

All the characters, though small in number, have been designed in such clever ways. It’s hard turning a sea urchin into a half-human hybrid but the character designers at Nintendo managed to pull it off so tastefully, and the same can be said for every single NPC as well as the Inklings you play as. Each map is drastically different in design and filled to the brim with little Easter Eggs like what looks to be the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Center Point Tower in the background of Blackbelly Skatepark, which can only make me think that map is indeed set somewhere in Sydney, Australia…or, at least, whatever it is called now that the squids have taken over.

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Gameplay is great, and the way a video game looks is very important, but there’s another huge factor that adds to the overall experience of a game and that is absolutely the soundtrack. There are only a handful of video games that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing throughout my life that I’d consider to have exceptional soundtracks and each of them are no where near as popular as they should be. With a game like Splatoon that features no understandable voice acting whatsoever, it relies heavily on it’s music to get players fired up and ready to paint the town red…or whatever colour your team is at the time.

Much like that of the visuals, Splatoon’s soundtrack is very urban. All the tracks are fantastic fusions between more modern genres like hip-hop, pop, and even funk. The soundtrack perfectly mirrors the game as a whole and can bring you down to a nice chill but it can also get you red-hot and ready to rumble. It is a soundtrack with unparalleled versatility and it is a flawless accompaniment to the game’s visuals.

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Splatoon is the divine offspring of Jet Set Radio, The World Ends With You, and Team Fortress 2. It features the dynamic visuals of Jet Set Radio, the fresh style of The World Ends With You, the simple replay value of Team Fortress 2, and it has been released at a perfect time! Video games have evolved and they’re now better than ever, that much is completely true, but with that has come this air of seriousness and severity that older titles simply didn’t have. After playing story-driven RPGs that tug at the heart strings and kill-focused first person shooters that attract the most aggressive players in the known world, it’s just nice to be able to sit down and fully immerse yourself in a world that is both simple and subtly complex.

Splatoon looks as though it has been developed for a child audience, and that may very well be the case, but it features enough depth for an adult gamer to truly get into. Look…simply put; Splatoon is just so much fun. Nintendo set out to make an enjoyable third-person shooter and it is exactly what they have done. Everything that was promised during pre-release has absolutely been fulfilled now that the game has been made available the world over. This is a near-perfect title that is only let down thanks to the most minuscule of things. So small, in fact, that you honestly wouldn’t notice them unless you truly went looking for them. To me, that’s the sign of a fantastic game, and Splatoon, well…THAT’S a fantastic game!

Splatoon is now available wherever video games are sold.

Grade: A

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