REVIEW: Splatoon! [Wii U]

I ate two cookies this morning. That is, I went to my local coffee shop, a place called Penny University (I often find myself, in my best Forrest Gump voice reciting “I love you Penny” on the way) and I gave the barista $5 more than The Regular Amount and he gave me two cookies, in addition to my coffee. It’s cold this time of year and in my right hand I gripped that latte (no sugar) tight enough that I could feel the recyclable cup’s want to cave in. It held. My left hand carried the brown paper bag that had become the Temporary Cookie Home. The coffee and cookie smell coalesced somewhere in between, climbed up my nostrils like they were tiny hair-filled alcoves on Everest and warmed my pleasure receptors in the brisk morning air.

Coffee and cookies makes me think of Splatoon.

Splatoon looks like it would taste delicious. It looks like it would smell delicious. I want to bathe in the ink that washes out each map of Splatoon. Actually, you can tell me its ink, but it looks like liquefied candy. Squids do not shoot violet or cyan blue or orange ink. Don’t tell me that it’s ink, Nintendo. I know it’s edible. I know that it’s non-toxic. Splatoon is Willy Wonka’s ‘Nerds’ put in a blender and put on high for 40 seconds. You can literally hear the sugar crackling in your mouth each time you pull the trigger in Splatoon.

Take almost everything you know about shooting games and throw that in the ocean. Replace all the missing pieces with the exact opposite of what you started with and there’s Splatoon, resting precariously upon Nintendo’s middle finger. You don’t necessarily want to shoot at your enemies, there isn’t a huge selection of maps, it is nearly flowing out of the TV screen with colour and the single-player mode is an inventive platformer-esque experience rather than a by the numbers series of explosions tied loosely to a plot. It’s nice to see Nintendo do away with the standard ingredients that make a shooter and pluck those weird, hardly used spices from the back of the pantry, but unfortunately, it doesn’t always leave you with the best taste in your mouth.

Splatoon is an FPS where you play as a squid-human hybrid in an attempt to cover the map in your ink. It’s like being a cake decorator in a drug-induced psychosis except the cake is relatively simple, rectangular maps and the piping bag is a giant paint roller. There’s not much more to say about the overall gameplay elements – you can mix and match your clothing to give yourself specific bonuses that make you shoot more ink, have different special abilities or just make you look like a badass, and the weaponry can also be switched out as you level up.

What is neat is how it all coalesces to form a scrumptious whole in team battles. There is such a level of diversity in the game styles and the abilities that you can use that it should end up sinking in the middle and being inedible, but boy, does it work. The GamePad gives you a great overview of the territory that has been covered in ink through the course of the game, allowing you to plan where your ink is best spent, the added abilities help to tailor your game style and even though each match isn’t exactly lengthy, even if you feel a long way behind in the final minute, you can still pull out a wonderful victory like it’s a perfectly roasted turkey on Christmas Day.

[img_big]center,14309,2015-07-01/WiiU_Splatoon_screen_TowerControl.jpg,Splatoon[/img_big]

Beyond the Call of Duty’s of the world, the most glaring failure of the latest multiplayer-only shooters like Evolve or Titanfall is that they have as much longevity as a freshly baked apple pie during a hunger strike. Let’s get to that then: this is a Nintendo system we are talking about so you probably expect the online component to be thrown together like a snag in bread at the local Bunnings, however the integration of Miiverse and Amiibos into the title may just help Splatoon build a loyal and active following. Most importantly, despite Nintendo’s general lack of cohesive online experiences, I experienced very little problems with latency, drop outs or finding games. Online does lack voice chat, which is a sin greater than putting pineapple on a pizza in this type of game, and I found myself wanting to direct team mates to unpainted sections of the map that were seemingly being ignored. You can feel really isolated from what makes team multiplayer great without voice chat.

Splatoon also has a single player mode and, rather than be like an awful, poorly dressed salad it surprisingly works like a delicious side of chips to the main game’s schnitzel. There’s some relatively simple storyline about the major power source for your squid-human hybrids town being stolen and then you launch into platformer-style levels where you have to utilize one of the many techniques in the game to progress. It’s clever because it’s like an advanced tutorial but also stands on its own right, with boss battles being fun little meals to devour after completing a few entrée levels.

Nintendo have committed to a ton of post-launch content, which presumably won’t be costing the player much at all, so with Splatoon it is like you can have your cake and eat it too! Nintendo has just recently released a new mode and organized events such as Splatfests that confirm that this isn’t just a quick cash grab but a brazen attempt to build something entirely new. For the most part, Splatoon avoids being a big gooey mess, instead resembling a carefully constructed cheesecake with a ton of heart, just like Mum used to make.

I’m hungry.

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