Published May 29, 2015Multiplayer shooters and Nintendo have never quite matched up, even back when third-party games like Call of Duty bothered to port their efforts to the (and yes, I'm saying it again: sadly underrated) Wii U. As ever, it was left to Nintendo to develop its own software for its own hardware that could meet the company's standard of family-friendly fun and industry innovation. Enter Splatoon.
Nope, not Super Mario Splatoon or the Legend of Splatoon, but an honest-to-goodness new Nintendo IP, and a great one at that. (Though I wouldn't be surprised, or disappointed to be honest, to see a Splatoon Kart somewhere down the road). Boasting their usual adorable absurdism, the game's a paint shooter where the battling boys and girls can strategically turn into squids.
It's notably not a paintball game, though. While you can shoot each other, sending splattered enemies back to respawn, it's actually about covering your opponent's territory in your colour of paint. The game is set in a series of arenas with each squad using primary and secondary weapons to paint their claims — with the added bonus of being able to turn into a squid and rapidly swim under your own paint splashes, including swimming up walls.
Aiming, meanwhile, is achieved by using the game pad's gyroscope (which also displays the real-time arena map) for some well-deployed motion-sensing immersion, which admittedly kind of sucks for those of us who enjoy gaming while splayed out lazily on a couch.
There is a single-player "Hero Mode" campaign, which lays out the lore of Inkopolis and the resident humanoid-squid Inklings after clearing (or rather, painting) each of the 27 levels plus boss battles. There are also one-on-one local matches so you can face-off against a couch-mate to see who can pop the most balloons.
But the meat of the game is the four-on-four, team-based online ink fights, providing the console with a much-needed multiplayer game along the lines of Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart. These currently come in two flavours: casual, turf-based Regular Battles and graded, king of the hill-based Ranked Battles, but more modes will become available via free DLC, including August's Rainmaker release, much like the new downloadable weapons and maps that are already coming out. Again, for free.
Nintendo can afford to do this because Splatoon is a bona fide hit with a million units moved out the gate. Will that change the Wii U's public perception? Probably not, but it should at least be enough motivation for Nintendo to keep supporting it until their next console comes out. (Nintendo)