As someone who typically shies away from competitive shooters, or competitive games in general, I’ve had little interest in Nintendo’s colorful turf war Splatoon since it launched on the Wii U back in May last year. Recently though, I began developing symptoms of the dreaded amiibo fever, and the Squid Sisters two-pack was way too good to pass up.
It felt awkward owning the game’s amiibo while never having played it, but thankfully that’s since changed.
I spoke with a buddy of mine on Twitter (TheDeviot over at CommaEightCommaOne), who sold me on Splatoon’s single-player content by pointing me toward his review. I honestly had no idea Splatoon even had solo content, but my ears perked up when he compared it to Metal Gear Solid-meets-Mario Galaxy as a third-person shooter.
At the time I didn’t understand how he came to that conclusion, but now it makes a bit more sense. You spend a lot of time sneaking around in your squad’s ink trails, and then there’s that awesome super jump that sends you blasting in to the air toward another section of the map.
Last night I dove in to Splatoon for the first time, but against my better judgment I decided to go online instead of checking out the campaign. Four hours later I was completely hooked, making a proverbial blood oath to Team Callie (who unfortunately lost the final Splatfest ever) while learning the ropes of being a roller player.
Splatoon was this burst of color, of character, and it really blew me away with how accessible-yet-challenging it was. I fell in love with the art style, the character designs, and the amazingly crafted central hub. I strolled around this virtual city, checking out everyone’s Miiverse art, inspecting gear that I hope to one day acquire, and playing the Squid Jump mini-game between matches. I hummed each stage’s memorably catchy theme songs, toyed around with different weapons, and discovered I could turn off motion controls — this was a real game changer for me.
Here I was, a person who loathed interacting with strangers in competitive environments, having the time of my life.
Rocket League had the same effect, where it was totally accessible and I didn’t feel overwhelmed taking on people who’ve been playing for over a year now. I’m glad I overcame my anxiety and gave Rocket League a chance, since it ended up being one my absolute favorite games of 2015. And now I feel the same about Splatoon.
As I mentioned above, I’ve chosen the roller as my primary weapon thus far. Since the objective is more about covering the field with paint than taking out other players (though that’s still a part of it), I wanted a weapon that maximized my coverage above all else. I wanted to provide my more experienced squadmates with ample ground to do their thing, and I also knew I fared better with a close-range weapon — my aim is garbage using the Wii U’s GamePad, since the analog sticks are significantly looser than the DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller.
I also really like commanding lanes with the roller’s special ability, which summons a massive beam that can take out an entire squad in tight hallways. It’s also a nice GTFO card to pull when tunnel vision strikes and I end up in the wrong neighborhood. The roller’s suction bomb is quite fun if I want to force the opposition in to melee range, since anyone standing in front of my gigantic paint roller gets squished back to their spawn point.
Splatoon is something I wish I had bought in to when it released to widespread acclaim. I’m not very good at it, but I can feel myself getting better with each match. This is common for any competitive game I’m sure, but for whatever reason there’s just something about Splatoon (and Rocket League) that doesn’t trigger my competitive anxiety.
I have this thing where I absolutely hate being bad at things, especially video games, so going in to something that others are significantly better at rarely feels enjoyable. It’s the main reason I stopped playing fighting games competitively, though I grew up dumping my allowance at the arcade on Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat cabinets. It’s also the reason I haven’t gotten in to games like Smite and Paragon — they’re overwhelming to new players (at least I found them to be) and the strict competitive nature was a huge turnoff.
I can’t bring myself to focus on one game long enough to get to a decently competitive level, and hopping online only to get destroyed is a kick in the junk to my irrational ego.
Splatoon doesn’t give me these negative (or irrational) feelings.
It’s a fantastic pick-up-and-play game, and one that I can see myself revisiting quite often moving forward. Here’s hoping Nintendo continues the series on the NX, or just brings Splatoon over and continues to add new content over time. The community, or at least the Miiverse, is strong, and the game sold well (nearly 5 million copies, I believe), so why not?
Have you played Splatoon? If so, what do you think of it? Any newbie tips you want to provide down in the comments?
If anyone’s interested in playing sometime, my NNID is the same as this website’s name, so feel free to toss me a friend request!
*If you’re wondering about the title, LTTP = Late to the party.