Splatoon is Nintendo’s newest IP, and their take on the online shooter genre. Sure, there are some features missing that are fairly standard when it comes to most online gaming, and the amount of content at launch is debatable, but you know what? I dove head first into this splat-tastic new title and haven’t regretted it since. For some odd reason, the game has been addictive, despite it’s many flaws. In fact, I’m very much reminded of my Xbox 360 days of playing Team Fortress 2 with my pals; the game technically didn’t have much, and didn’t get the expansions the PC version did, but we played the heck out of it and still had tons of fun. So, why is Splatoon so fun to play?
Appeals to OCD
Ok, I admit this is a bit odd, but I’m being completely serious. I’m very organized and pretty strict when it comes to how things are set up (ie – my desk at work, my house, and even my gaming room). Splatoon plays on this mindset I have to the fullest extent. I cannot help but find massive enjoyment in covering every square inch with whatever ink is given to me at the beginning of a match. Looking down at the map on the GamePad and seeing that we’ve managed to cover a large area of landscape with ink is oddly satisfying.
The visual satisfaction of covering the map couples well with the audio cues in the game. Hearing the “put-put-put” of my .52 Deco squirt-gun, the “inky” sound of my footsteps through the ink-covered ground, and the “bloop” of diving into my own ink as a squid all add into this weird appeal of OCD. And yes, I understand how ridiculous this all might sound. I also realize that this might not apply to everyone out there.
Covering the map with ink still manages to make the game fun outside of having the type of OCD I have. Why? Because the gameplay is unique and fresh. Flawed? Sure, but the developers still inject enough ingenuity and creativeness to overcome those issues. Splatoon doesn’t necessarily reinvent the online shooter genre, but rather, creates a hybrid which injects a new gameplay mindset. I liken this, in a way, to what Dead Space did to its genre: before, getting head-shots were the way to bring monsters/enemies down, but Dead Space took that idea and flipped it on its head (pun completely intended) by forcing the player to change that mindset to “cut off the limbs.” Splatoon puts an emphasis on covering the map, with “splatting” opponents as a secondary measure in order to fulfill that ultimate goal.
Ohhhhh, Look at the Colors!
Seriously, just look at some of the screen shots from the game and you’ll see what I mean. I enjoy my drab, post-apocalyptic landscapes which utilize the “M” rating to the fullest extent. But you know what? I also enjoy color in games as well. Splatoon delivers on the latter aspect like none I’ve seen before.
Each match has the team colors change as well, so there are quite a few different combinations to be had. My favorite thus far has been the Nickelodeon colors: bright orange and deep blue. The colors are emphasized further by the dreary grey landscape of each map; well, the grey lasts for about 10 seconds before ink flies everywhere.
What I appreciate about the color usage in Splatoon is that I haven’t gotten tired of the bright colors. Each is cycled through frequently and there is enough variety in colors that each match is a visual feast that I cannot get enough of. This is another way that Splatoon takes the genre it fits in and changes the stereotype – shooters don’t have to be drenched in “realistic” drab colors like brown, dark green, and grey in order to be a pleasure to look at. Shooters can look goofy and still manage to feel fresh and fun.
Weaponry and Perks Alter Gameplay
In many other shooters, I rarely notice large differences between the weaponry made available. Sure, a shotgun feels different than a pistol, and an assault rifle feels different than a heavy machine gun. However, the way I play the game usually doesn’t alter too much, outside of the capabilities of the weapons I choose in my load-out. Yet again, Splatoon changes things up.
Though there are weapons that may look similar to each other, and there are a couple that are simply modified versions of weapons made available close to the beginning of the game, most other weapons change the way the player has to approach a match. For example, everyone begins with the Splattershot Jr. This weapon has a high fire rate, with decent ink usage and power; it’s the good all-around weapon of choice. As soon as money is made and new weapons are unlocked (by leveling up), the player quickly finds the style of gameplay they just got used to has to be thrown out the window. I had switched to a Charger-based weapon next – a sniper rifle, essentially. I ended up dragging my team down to multiple losses, so I switched to the Spline Roller (which was supposed to be over-powered). Again, I drug my team down to failure. Why? Because these weapons required me to get out of my Call of Duty mindset and adapt to the new style of play.
Once I figured this out, it opened up the game to me. I’ve had so much fun learning new weapons and how to utilize them correctly, and what adds to the challenge and creativity is the clothing additions. That’s right, I wrote “clothing additions.” There are three different types of clothing: headgears, shirts, and shoes. Each piece of clothing offers up a main perk, and as you level up and unlock new clothing, more secondary perks begin to appear in better clothing. For example, a helmet I currently have offers less ink usage from my main weapon, as a main perk. This changes the way I play and what weapon I might want to use, since a powerful weapon that might use up too much ink can now be used more effectively. Again, the idea of perks for your character is not a new idea, but rather, thanks to the drastic differences in many weapons, it does put more emphasis on the perks and the strategy in which pieces to use.
If you haven’t gathered my point yet, it’s this: Splatoon is so fun because it takes the shooter genre and makes it feel new. It doesn’t “reinvent,” nor does it “replace,” but rather, it creates a hybrid that is entertaining enough to look past its flaws. Though I would recommend this title, I can clearly understand why some might wait (at least until the August update, to see what else it might bring). One thing is certain: this new IP from Nintendo has not only enticed me to keep playing “just one more match,” but it’s gotten me excited for future iterations to improve upon this foundation.