One of the actual surprises from Nintendo’s Digital Event for this year’s E3 wasn’t the teasing of a new “Legend of Zelda” title, but their brand new IP which is going by the name Splatoon. In Splatoon, Nintendo is bringing the world of competitive third person shooters to the Wii U, but instead of having players focus on shooting each other, the game is a turf war, with players being forced to cover the levels with their teams ink color. It might sound silly on paper, but it works in the execution.
Consisting of two teams of four, the demo we played took place in a symmetrical urban map which was pretty perfect to sell me on the premise of the game. As each round begins, the players start shooting their ink on the ground. You’re declared the winner by covering a higher percentage of the ground on the map than the opposing team, which sounds easy but does take at least some strategizing once the teams start to meet in the middle.
The weirdest part of the game is the squid transformations. Players transform into squids and can slide through their teams’ already laid down ink. This both refills your ink supplies and offers a quick mode of transportation should you need to move fast. Jumping in the ink also offers players a safe haven from enemy players as you’re undetectable from foes when in “Squid form.”
Players can also cover up the ink of the opposing team, which is difficult to walk through should you find yourself stuck in it, and lest you think that just because the goal of the game is to shoot paint at the ground that shouldn’t stop you from attacking the other team if you run into them. Instead of killing foes, players are capable of “splattering” them, which can unlock more powerful weapons for players and force the enemy to wait to respawn.
The Wii U GamePad is a handy tool to have during Splatoon as it offers an aerial look of the map and shows the specific areas covered in both friendly and enemy ink. Another advantage of the GamePad is that the motion sensor can be used to aim the player’s ink gun, which is tricky to master at first but becomes easier with practice.
Splatoon is a fun and cute game that capitalizes on the high def capabilities of the Wii U to great effect. Though the demo we played was barebones to the effect of the arena and player capabilities, it was still a blast, and once more levels and weapons are announced, the game will easily become a must own. Casual gamers will likely find more enjoyment from the title, especially if splitscreen multiplayer is going to be available, but its exciting to see Nintendo open up new doors and try out things going on in other corners of the gaming industry.
Splatoon will launch for the Wii U in the first quarter of 2015.