Before we start, I have decided that this isn’t a review. From now on, if I haven’t completed a game, or experienced all it has to offer, I’m going to talk about it in a thing like this, which just talks about the experiences I’ve had. So please consider this like a review, but not actually a review.
I’ve recently had a desire to get back into playing an eSport game. I haven’t really played one since eSports were invented, maybe now is the time. If you aren’t familiar with the term. eSports have grown out of online multiplayer games, in much the same way that traditional sports came to be. Humans were throwing spears at each other long before Javelin became an official sport. With all those people throwing spears, it was only a matter of time before one of them claimed to be able to throw one further than anyone else could, and that’s how sports are made. So with all those people playing Call of Duty, or Counter Strike, it didn’t take long for them to want a method to decide who was the absolute best at the game. That lead to online multiplayer becoming a required part of any big first person shooting game, and that leads to games being made that are just the multiplayer part, and that’s eSports. Think of them as games where the main goal is to be good at the game, rather than progressing through stages to get to the end of a story.
There are quite a few around, and it’s fair to say that they’re currently taking a big share of the gaming spotlight. I’m very sure that most people will have heard of Fortnight, whether they have an interest in gaming or not. I can’t go a day without hearing something about PUBG or DOTA 2. At this rate I’m going to have to look up what DOTA stands for.
While doing research for this article, I fell down a rabbit hole of eSports information that warrants talking about separately from a specific game. Suffice it to say that eSports are a big deal. There’s a lot to say about them, but I’m here to talk about Splatoon.
eSports come in all shapes and sizes, but I decided to go for one of the shooty ones, seeing as the last one I played was Call of Duty. Splatoon 2 is a third person shooter game on the Nintendo Switch, released in the middle of last year as part of Nintendo’s amazing first year of Switch games. It’s a sequel, obviously, but the first one came out on the Wii U so nobody played it.
Gameplay takes place in a number of arenas, which are available at different times of the day. Eight players are split in to two teams, each with the goal of covering the arena with more or your team’s coloured in than the other team do. You can shoot members of the other team, but its not the main aim like it would be in a game like Fortnight.
The available weapons are all fictional, and designed to distribute ink. They resemble water pistols, paint brushes, and ink rollers, and feed into the culture that Nintendo have created for the game.
You are an Inkling, a humanoid-squid creature, that live in a place called Inkopolis. As you load the game you’re greeted by the latest episode of the news from Off the Hook, a pop duo in the game world. They’ll tell you what arenas you’ll be able to play on at the moment. I understand that this will be of interest to some players, but I just try to skip past it as quickly as possible. After the news, you’re taken to Inkopolis Square.
The square is the main hub of the game where you’ll find options for game modes, character customisation, and social interaction. There are shops selling weapons, hats, shirts, and shoes for your character. There an arcade, and a mail service that lets you create content for social media. I really enjoyed the look and feel of this area, even the fact that you can go and stand in the background of the afore mentioned news show, and even get the hosts to wave at you while they’re performing. It’s a nice place to be.
That attention to detail is what I love about Nintendo games. I’ll never grow tired of watching characters dance in time with music. It sounds like such a little thing, but it’s a level of care that nobody else seems to bother with. I’ve talked about it before, back when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was released, and I expect this won’t be the last time I mention it.
So far I’ve mainly played the multiplayer game. That’s specifically why I bought the game. I think it’s safe to say I’ve enjoyed every match I’ve played. It’s easy to contribute to the success of your team, because as long as you’re spraying ink, you’re helping.
The maps you play in are bright and colourful, and quite small. Given the aim of the game, it would ruin things if the play area was too big. So far I’ve only been able to play normal online matches. When I reach level ten I’ll be able to play ranked matches. The same mechanism made it into Arms, also from Nintendo. It lets you get to grips with the game before you start playing with the serious players and get your ass handed to you by a ten year old Korean child.
Occasionally there are Splatfests, which are weekend long competitions where players choose a side in an argument, then fight for their side. Recent events have included pressing questions such as cake or ice cream, and ketchup or mayo. This weekend I fought in the great ninja turtle wars to determine which is the best ninja turtle. These events do very little to affect the actual game, but they manage to put a whole new slant on things. Clearly, some people really get into it and play for the entire weekend. During the event Off the Hook do a live show in the middle of Inktopolis Square. It’s a crazy night, you really should try to get down there if you can. Bring your mates.
Team play is a big deal. There are world championships and money to be won. Unfortunately I don’t have enough Splatoon playing Switch friends to try it out. Can’t say I’m losing any sleep over that personally.
There is a single player game. I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t really looked at it. It’s not why I bought the game. However, I have heard good things, and have no reason to expect otherwise. As I write this, the single player element of the game really wasn’t intended to be the main part of the game, but soon we’ll be getting the first DLC, which concentrates entirely on single player game features. If you’re dead set against playing other humans online, don’t buy this game. I understand a desire to avoid playing with other people. Most people are morons. Some of the Splatoon players may well be those morons, but you wouldn’t know because there’s no communication between players. There’s no online abuse or onslaught of homophobic name calling because all the voice chat is handled through the Nintendo smartphone app.
So there’s no online community stuff available on the Switch yet. Certainly nothing with the scope of Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. If you want to do voice chat while you’re playing a game, you’re going to need a smartphone and the Nintendo app. The app handles the voice chat, and it shows you all the play stats you could ever come close to caring about. It’s clear that Nintendo had some big ideas when they launched this app. Probably expecting that by now, mid 2018, there would be plenty of games using it, and the app would become your portable one stop shop for online Nintendo gaming. Unfortunately the only game that has ever used the Nintendo app is Splatoon 2. It’s just really sad when you open it up and see the single game there, on a menu system designed to deal with many games. From what I gather, teams who regularly play together just use Skype to talk.
As I come to the end part here, please remember that there’s more to Splatoon 2 than I’ve been able to talk about. That’s why I’m not calling this a proper review, I’m just playing the game for my own enjoyment. The fact that I am playing this game for my own enjoyment should go indicate how I feel about it. It’s a fantastic game that’s lots of fun to play. Simple as that. Splatoon 2 is a fine example of Nintendo at the top of its game. It’s not cheap, and it’s not easy to pick it up second hand, so I’m afraid you’ll have to bite the bullet and pay full price for it. That said, the lack of pre owned copies speaks a lot to the quality and playability of the game.