Monday, October 26, 2015
Currently Playing #26: Splatoon
I haven't been seriously enamored with a shooter in a very long time. In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, I was really into FPSs with GoldenEye 007, Perfect Dark and TimeSplitters but when the HD generation of gaming came in, shooters really, really blew up. But even before the high definition visuals became a thing for video games, I had already fallen out of touch with shooters. The flood of them in the new HD era of video games really didn't do much entice me to come back into the fold. Shooters were in your face whether you wanted them to be or not but at the same time, my first video game genre love was booming just as well as it did in the 16-bit era. I am of course talking about platformers. Shooters continued to dominate the market but the wellspring of solid platforming games had my undivided attention.
I've always wanted to get back into shooters at some point. I just wasn't sure where to start. Call of Duty has become the biggest name in shooters with it's yearly sequels and while I have nothing against the game or those who play it, I've never really been interested in it. I was more inclined to check out the Boarderlands and Bioshock titles, but I never did get around to those. I had no idea that the game that would bring me back into shooters would look and play nothing like anything else in the genre.
When I saw footage of the Splatoon reveal back in 2014, I was surprised for two reasons. One, this was a shooter from Nintendo. The 3D Metroid titles are more akin to adventure and exploration so they hardly count. Two, this shooter had kids running round shooting brightly colored ink. Most shooters are dark and gritty to give a better sense of realism. Splatoon's vibrant visuals paint it as the exact opposite. These things were enough to make me take interest.
I missed the Splatoon global test fire before the game's release and I also missed out on purchasing the game on launch day. Instead, Splatoon was a slightly late, self-bought birthday gift. And it stayed in the shrink wrap until August. I tend to be a bit nervous when it comes to going online. A few weeks passed before I jumped into the chaotic fray of Mario Kart 8 online racing and it was the same thing with Splatoon. I decided to get my squid kid tentacles wet with the single player experience. And wouldn't you know it, my old foe, motion sickness came back with a vengeance. The moving of the camera along with the motion controls was too much for me to take and I could only finish one mission.
Splatoon sat unplayed for about a week or more. I didn't play the game again until the first one of the Splatfest events was going and it happened to be Autobots vs. Decepticons. Seeing the plaza area lit up and everyone partying it up was enough for me to take part in my first few rounds of Turf War. Naturally, I went with the Autobots. We lost in the end, but playing online helped me wave bye-bye to my motion sickness. I got splatted a lot and it was rare that I got splatted anyone since I was new and still learning but I was able to play Splatoon without feeling nauseous.
With my motion sickness sent packing, I dived into Splatoon in earnest. I've completed the single player mode and brought back the Great Zapfish. Solo mode was short but it took me longer to complete than I image it did other players. I played Splatoon while balancing Super Mario Maker, Tomodachi Life and Super Smash Bros. What I really dig about solo Splatoon is that the levels, while they all have the same objective of snag the Zapfish at the end, is that they teach you tactics that you'll use in the online multiplayer modes. Like Super Jumping, using your ink to scale walls and dealing with enemy specials like the Ink Strike and Killer Whale. Even confrontations with other players are replicated through the Octolings, the most aggressive member of the Octerian amry, possessing all of the abilities of the Inklings.
The levels in single player are neat, too. Some levels have you using zip lines but instead of hooking into them, you transform into a squid and travel through them. Using your ink, you cover surfaces to reach areas you otherwise would have no access to. The multiplayer levels are used for single player levels but the original levels tend to stand out more since more often then not, reaching the Zapfish is trickier in these stages. One level has invisible platforms that can't be seen until you shoot them with ink.
Since my first Splatfest, Turf War is where I've gotten the most enjoyment out of Splatoon. There's nothing like fighting alongside a bunch of strangers to cover turf and splat other strangers. I'm more cautious when I play Turf War. Covering ground is the main objective of this mode and while kills do feel good and can be beneficial, it's important not to get caught up in merely splatting the opposition. Granted, I've come across some players that are really good at taking out opponents. I ran into one player that kept splatting out entire team and we were on the losing end. Time was short, there was no way we were going to win and I was fed up with this guy splatting us all. So in the little time that was left, I engaged him and took him down with me. In the end, he had 20 kills and one splat on his record. If nothing else, I took some pride in the fact that I ruined what would have been a perfect splat streak for him. It can be pretty easy to just start splatting squids when time is almost up and sometimes, that small victory is all you'll get.
I love all the clothing you and deck the Inklings out in. The abilities these things grant you like damage up and invisible landing points from Super Jumps is nice but the look of all the clothing, shoes and head pieces really make each Inkling you'll encounter look different. I'm more of a fan of the tees and gym shoe look myself but they got a great selection of boots, sweat shirts and a ton of other gear. I was able to score both the Inkling Boy and Girl amiibos and I completed both outfits for doing the challenges they grant you. I haven't found the Squid amiibo yet as it seems to be the hardest one to find. It bites that these extra pieces of gear are locked behind a paywall. That's the one thing I don't like about what Nintendo's doing with amiibos.
After much reluctance, I tried out Ranked mode. What kept me from playing this mode was my love for Turf War, which is by far, still my favorite mode in Splatoon and the things I've heard about Ranked. In Ranked you start out with the lowest possible ranking of C-. The goal is to win and earn enough points to raise your rank, going to C, C+, B- and so on. The kicker is that losing docks you points. So if you rank up to B+ and go on a continuous losing streak, your rank will go down. Its very well possible to end up right back where you started. Simply put, Ranked is serious business and losing in Ranked really sucks.
Of the three modes in Ranked Splat Zones is my favorite. Keeping the splat zone covered with your ink for 100 seconds is very intense. The the battles here are more fierce than in Turf Wars, at least for me. I find myself being way more aggressive in Ranked Splat Zones that Turf War. Maybe because I have something to lose if I don't win, but I find myself moving around in ways I don't when I play Turf war. The best weapon for me in Ranked Splat Zone has been the Splattershot. It has a good fire rate, decent damage and the Burst Bomb sup is great for added offense. They don't cause a huge amount of damage but a barrage of them can make the hits added up. The Special lets me unleash a slew of them and I've gotten a surprising amount of kills with the Burst Bombs. I'd like to be able to transfer some of my more aggressive play from Ranked Splat Zone into Turf Wars.
Even if I don't pick up another shooter anytime soon, Splatoon is so much fun that I could be just fine sticking with it for a very long time. Its a fresh take on the genre in both look and feel and with the Splatfests and free updates, I don't see Splatoon getting stale anytime soon. It feels nice to shoot again. I guess that's splatting in this case.