Splatoon

Published by Tyro D. Fox in the blog The Leather Bound Book. Views: 963

It's been far, faaaar too long since I did one of these! I need to get back to cranking these things out again!

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Splatoon

Splatoon is a huge, huuuge pain in the arse to review. Not because it's deep or requires a lot of thought or even a lot of explaining. It's that it's being constantly updated. Just like Minecraft or Team Fortress 2, unless you report on this stuff constantly, one shot reviews like mine are just going to appear rather dated. The good news is that Nintendo have mostly revealed their hand on this one sooo...I don't mind diving in right now. Because pending a huge upheaval of content like how Team Fortress 2 reinvigorates interest in itself with a new game type or extra mode to keep you coming back, Splatoon looks like it's going to just keep adding small stuff or polishing what's already there until it shines.

So, now seems as good a time as ever.

Splatoon is basically Nintendo's Team Fortress 2. I know the press have been comparing it to CoD but anyone that does it is a moron. I'm going to be blunt here because it's so much like Team Fortress 2, it's baffling that it's not more widely talked about.

First off, it's a shooter with a less realistic edge. None of this realism nonsense. Instead, we have a game that bases itself in a fantastical world so that it's mechanics don't have to be explained at all. Your an Inkling, a humanoid squid that can transform into a squid and back to a humanoid again. Its set in Japan and you fight with water guns that fire ink.

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And sometimes, Pop Star Divas dressed like sushi. Did I mention this game was Japanese?

There's no blood and guts or quite the same kind of comedy of TF2 but it does have it's own quirky charm to make up for it. Like I said, it's practically set in Japan. It's iconography is so hilariously and obviously Japanese that it gains this curious charm about it. The game's attention to detail on things such as adverts, the look of signs, the look of some character's clothes, the look of the building you fly around on. It's not in your face over the top but everything has just the right vibe.

Though, it's a very suburban Japan. It's clothes are often fashionable wear with lots of trainers and hoodies and such. While it's definitely Japanese, it's a contemporary Japan that make's Splatoon the only main Nintendo IP to ever acknowledge the outside world that I can think of so fully and completely as to take bits of it and then place it in it's setting. It's exaggerated, but it's there!

Kinda reminds me of something...hmm...

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Yeah, sorry. The image is a little big but it's kinda too important not to show!
Splatoon's feel while still very fresh, does feel like it's been borrowing from places. Though, and here's the part where I might sound pretty mental, I'm fine with that. As far as I see it, it's picking up and then modifying elements of each game this chart says it's playing with. Aesthetically, it's very Jet Set Radio though throws out the cell shading that still looks good today in favour of a more realistic but still exaggerated feel. Like, these are cartoon characters, but it does look like you could just grab one of these little guys.

Not a bad idea. After that Xbox 360 game, it's not likely we're getting another Jet Set Radio so, yeah! I'll happily take Splatoon instead.

Mainly because it did the same calculations that Team Fortress 2 did.

First, it's got a bigger emphasis on teamwork than other shooters. The way it works, for the three people that don't know, is that it's a sort of reverse Super Mario Sunshine. Instead of cleaning up a mess, your making one with as much speed as you can. It's literally about controlling the map, covering it in all the ink you can fire. That's roughly it. You just spray your copious amounts of gloopy liquid in all directions, hoping to cover everything you possibly can. No kill streaks, no emphasis on kill-death ratios, no points for doing anything but completing the objective. You can kill the other team but it doesn't help much. It does cause a small splat of coverage they're death causes, delay an opponent team member from being on the field and defends any spot you have covered.

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I have played a bit of Call of Duty and I got a more 'Individual Badass working alongside other Individual Badasses'. I barely had to interact with teammates at all. Unless you count accidentally shooting them interaction.

Otherwise, your often better looking for places to cover instead of things to pounce on. It's not a bad strategy to fight the opponent directly but it's a very fringe plan compared to just finding efficient ways of throwing the brightly coloured gunge around.

Actually, that is the thing that sets this apart from TF2. That had nine distinct classes that had abilities that could be shifted by their equipment to allow them to fill certain niches or specialities in their team. A character is still that character despite whatever they're equipment says they can or can't do now. They're just an altered version. So, a Medic can't ever have the speed of a Scout without doing something special and a Spy will always be able to turn invisible, they just might not be able to be invisible for as long. They're equipment gives them different buffs and debuffs to keep both the opponents guessing and the player trying new combinations to see what works when.

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Or does nothing but does look like he'd be able to jiggle around like jelly.

Splatoon took this and simplified it by rolling Class Specific abilities into the weapons the character carries instead. Every single gun kinda locks you into specific play styles and abilities. They're generally pretty simple to grasp how each works, though.

Rapid fire guns that are mainly an all-rounder that are good at both coverage and dealing with attackers.

Blaster guns are slow and have a small range but tend to pack a mean punch when they hit something.

Rollers are the best at covering ground as well as being able to plough through enemies with a huge amount of ease, except that they have barely any way of attacking at range.

Chargers are this games sniper rifles as they have the greatest range, damage and accuracy of any gun but can't cover ground very well. They're mainly for picking off targets. Though, to gain their full power, you have to fully charge every shot.

Buckets are able to efficiently cover areas as well as be quite offensive at close range but long range they completely suck. Their biggest advantage is the arc they throw ink at allows you to pick off targets that are behind cover a little easier.

Brushes are just like rollers except they can paint much, much faster than a Roller. Though, they cover much less ground. Instead, Brush Users are the DPS melee damage dealers that can swat enemies out of the way with constant, quick strikes.

And lastly, there's this games version of a minigun. Curiously, it can fire forever. The difference between this and the TF2 minigun is that it has to be charged up before it can fire. Refilling ink only allows you to charge up that much faster.

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"CRY SOME MOAR!"

But that's not all, gear is vitally important here. To further augment your character, you can buy clothes for them to wear. Each of these has an ability and slots to further increase the number of different buffs the clothing can give you. So, if you're looking for a tanky build, you'd look for as much stuff that'll keep you alive as possible. Rather simple.

What I like about this system is that, unlike TF2, it's really up to you how to play. Sure, there's dominant strategies on what's considered powerful but one lone player can only do so much, even with help. This makes the game rather open and balanced, relatively, meaning that you really can go nuts to see what out of the stuff you just happen to have will do the trick for you.

In TF2, even if you altered a class' gear, you did so in order to make it better at only one or two aspects of that character's class you wanted to focus on. Perhaps a 'Revengineer' or a 'Demoknight'. You worked with what you had and figured out synergies but it's always clear that Valve had tested these things to within an inch of their life so that no combination would cause too much damage to their carefully maintained meta.

Nintendo doesn't seem so concerned and so, you feel more like you're in control of how your character plays. Your gun is the basis of the play style, sure. But your gear pushes it in the direction you want. You could equip a simple Rapid Fire Gun but then add as much into damage as possible, making sure each hit lands hard.

You could put more into defence and respawn time reduction, allowing you to defend any territory you control with as much force as you can muster.

You could also gain silent jumping and swimming as well as run speed upgrades, so that you can attempt to outflank and sabotage any attempt to co-ordinate against your team.

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Side note: Miiverse is everywhere in this. Though, it's got some real gems in it.

You play with what you have and work with it. The reason for this is that each extra slot on a piece of gear unlocks a new, smaller bonus to your character when they wear it. The issue is that it's randomly selected from a pool relating to that piece of clothing. Some might find this awkward as it means that whatever gear they have is now kinda hard to predict as well as hard to plan for. A piece of gear you worked on for ages could gain a bonus that doesn't help your overall strategy. Therefore, it's ruined in your eyes.

For me? I play lots of trading card/collectible card games. I'm used to getting randomly selected things then being told to try to make something of them. Heck! I relish the challenge of being asked to take a load of disparate bits and bobs that make me look like I've robbed a charity shop and finding something workable out of the mess of information.

It's a thought that does take longer than you'd think, just because it's a smarter game than it let's on. Sure, it's all about spreading ink in all directions but how do you go about it? The advantages of having lots of your colour ink around is that you're limiting the space your opponent has to move in but increasing your own space. You can transform into a squid and swim in it, effectively becoming like a run button. It's your fastest mode of transport just below touching the Gamepad screen and jumping to the same location as a teammate. Swimming is also the only way you can refill your ammo while out and about so, you're fighting over how effective your team can be in any given area. This is a simple but hugely responsive mechanic as the player is getting constant, affirmative feedback on how well they're doing.

You can't move around much and getting damaged everywhere? Your sucking this round!

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"Nyah-nyah! Everything proof shield, sucker!"

Still, how you attempt to achieve the objective is important. Do you try to cover ground or defend it? Do you do what I do and load up a Charger with some Ink Efficiency upgrades and pick off my opponents so my teammates have a better chance of covering ground?

Yeah, you're a git too. But you're likely an unsung hero of your team.

Special mention has to be given to the controls, which feel awesome once you get to grips with them. It's similar to the shooting mechanics in the 3DS remakes of those two Legend of Zelda N64 games where the internal gyroscope is able to pick up fine movement of the hands but the majority of the aiming direction is done by the analogue stick. Honestly, it's very responsive, comfortable and doesn't screw you up, even in the thick of it. It's the only system I've used that can actually rival the accuracy of a mouse. Once you get used it it, it's that good.

Ordinarily, I'm a crap sniper. In Splatoon, I knock them dead almost every time.

To spice things up, there's other game modes too. My favourite being the Tower one where your team has to climb onto a platform that moves when it's stood on. You have to control that tower by keeping at least one teammate on it until it reaches it's destination somewhere in the enemy territory. For such a simple idea, it's tremendous fun as you frantically splat anything on the tower with everything you have, just to ensure that there's at least no one on there and the tower halts.

Rainmaker is like rugby only the rugby ball is a gun that causes the wearer to loose some running speed. However, they now have a powerful gun that fires inky-tornadoes of death when fully charged. So, while you're not exactly a sitting duck, you're not almighty powerful either. It's a little like the Tower one though you have the choice of route instead of following the pre-arranged rail the tower follows. Get the gun to the spot in the enemy territory and you win.

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This thing actually looks too vicious to be in a Nintendo game. Like a fish-shaped BFG.

The last one is just Area Control but you have only one or two areas that count towards your score. And you have to control them for as long as you can. It's not as fun as the others but it's still entertaining as you know have to decide between a strong offence or defence. Do you target enemy areas or try to defend the ones you have?

Yeah, that's all I have to say about Spla....Wait, no. There's a single player.

It's kinda dull, actually. It shows you the ropes and I do recommend you finish it though not because it's necessarily fun. It's mainly just to build up your skills so that they can be put to the test within the online matches. There's some challenge modes available with the Amiibo characters that let you use alternate weapons though, they don't bring much to the table.

And now, that's all I have to say about Splatoon. In short, it's fun. If you like quirky ideas or love TF2, look for this. Seriously, it's good. Play it.

Just be weary that I'll be gunning for you too if you do sign up.

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No comment, I just really like this one.
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  • Tyro D. Fox
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