Last week, Nintendo gave a Splatoon-centered Direct that was mildly hokey, but very informative. Though I won’t go into too much detail – I highly recommend watching the Direct – weapon classes, game modes, online play, and many other details were highlighted in the video. Towards the end of the Direct, however, there was a fun little announcement given to the fans: a “Testfire” demo for Splatoon would be available for download, and players would have the chance to play in a few different one hour sessions of Turf War mode.
The play-test was rather informative itself, giving many players across the globe the chance to test out the anticipated new IP from Nintendo. Upon trying out the shooter myself, I discovered that though this game does have some flaws, it has massive potential to be another popular franchise for the old gaming company. So, what are the pros and cons, you ask? Well, since you asked…
Splatoon can easily become stale if new content isn’t added regularly. The game will ship with five maps (featuring various game modes), and a solo campaign where the Splatoon specific amiibo can unlock 20 challenges each – a decent usage of the Nintendo NFC figurines. Thankfully, it was announced in the Direct that there would be a large, free, update in August; new maps, weapons, online match-making improvements, and more would be included. Now, I don’t expect every update or DLC pack to be free, but I do believe that for Splatoon to stick in the forefront of gamers’ minds is to keep fresh content incoming regularly. Case in point: the time between DLC packs for Mario Kart 8 was a little too long; many had moved on to bigger and better games since then, even though the packs are most excellent.
Custom weapon load-outs or the ability to change weapons between deaths is a must. In the demo, once you choose your weapon, that was it. Unless you wanted to leave the game you were connected to, you couldn’t switch weapons, either between matches or deaths within each match. This is a must; if you have a team that all decides to use the Spline Roller, it’s going to be rather difficult to beat the team that just so happened to have a better balanced weapon selection. Heck, even if there is a way to view who chooses what weapons before the match starts would help a little. This seems like a basic online match foundation that will hopefully be addressed by either the launch date on May 29 or the update in August.
The requirement for eight (human) players before a match starts. Nintendo is truly banking on everyone playing this game all the time. A match will not start until eight people join in. This could easily be resolved with good bots to fill slots, but how long will people be playing Splatoon regularly? In this day and age of gaming gluttony, many move onto the next game rather quickly. Whether one agrees with this or not, it’s a fact: many gamers move onto the next thing that is released whenever they have the funds to do so. Even I do this sometimes. So, when there are a large mass of people playing Splatoon at the same time, will I not be able to play online with just a few others?
Speaking of having eight players to start a match, the mini-game while you wait is a fantastic idea. While waiting for players to join, a “Squid Jump” mini-game is available to play on the GamePad. It is a very cool feature that, honestly, I would like to see other online games implement. Is it anything new or incredible? No, not really. Is it effective and addicting; a solid mini-game to pass the short time while waiting? Absolutely. Plus, it saves your score and your place automatically for when you are waiting next, as long as you stay online.
The weapons, though not what I expected, are good. Before you jump on me, stating that the Roller is OP (Over-Powered), hear me out. When I first began playing, the Roller was extremely easy to use and seemed to be the best of the bunch. As I played more, I started noticing others getting higher scores than myself with other weapons. I also came across some who were ridiculously good with specific weapons; every weapon had a player who used it correctly and completely owned the field. I then realized that each weapon requires a different way of playing and thinking. In other words, each weapon needs to be learned. It seems that the Roller is a great entry level weapon, but others can easily cover large amounts of ground when used correctly (like the Splattershot). Perhaps there will be changes when the game launches, but I had no problems with the weapons.
The GamePad is actually used! The map on the GamePad is incredibly helpful, and using Super Jump (touching another player’s location to jump to that spot) is very nice. The reason I don’t think voice chat is needed in this game is largely due to the GamePad usage. Also, though I ended up switching to traditional joystick usage (I guess CoD online is hardwired into my brain), the gyro is used well to aim in Splatoon. The combination of right joystick and gyro are blended nicely, adding a new way to play the game. In addition, the mini-game I spoke about before is played solely on the GamePad as well.
The game is simply fun. Perhaps it was because the game appealed to my OCD, having to cover every inch of ground I ran/swam across, but Splatoon is pure fun. It’s colorful, unique, easy to pick up, and something different. As long as new content is continually released, I see myself playing this title for quite a long time.
No voice chat in Splatoon is no problem, though it would be nice. Honestly, I was very disappointed that Splatoon wouldn’t have voice chat in-game when it was first announced. After playing for a good hour and a half, I can legitimately say that Splatoon does not need it. Yes, I still believe adding the option for it would’ve been the right move, since people like to have options. But, the voice chat would only be used for conversations like “Hey, I’m choosing this weapon, you should choose this one,” or “Hey….. go paint that wall again for the fifth time.” The GamePad map is all the player needs; a regular glance down at the screen works just fine. This one is a toss-up for me: though I don’t think the voice chat is needed at all, I still think it should’ve been at least an option.
Splatoon has potential to be a very good franchise for Nintendo. It could easily become a cartoon, a toy line by itself (or just more amiibo), and could justify sequels to improve upon the base. I had a ton of fun with the Testfire demo, and look forward to the solo campaign. As long as Nintendo continues to add content regularly, I believe Splatoon will be a financial success; perhaps not the likes of Mario Kart 8 or Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, but a solid million seller.