Splatoon is Nintendo’s first serious entry into online gaming

    
35

Gaming giant Nintendo is no stranger to online play, but its online play usually comes with distinct limitations on the game that features it. The Animal Crossing series takes the best advantage of online play, creating small, shared worlds (player towns) where players can interact and actually talk to each other through direct text input and voice chat. Even so, many game options, such as doing chores for your neighbors, shut off and are replaced by different sorts of activities (like mini-games).

Perhaps this is why many members of the Animal Crossing team are involved in Splatoon, Nintendo’s first online shooter, which launched last week for the Wii U.

Nintendo’s plans involving smart devices and dedicated gaming hardware

True to Nintendo’s usual style, communication in game is almost non-existent. The Wii U game pad has a mic and often works via a touch-pad keyboard, but Splatoon has no text or voice chat, just pre-written comments/voice acting, akin to Hearthstone. But in a shooter that focuses on painting the environment and enemies with your team’s color by way of calling a win, I’d say it’s probably acceptable.

The painting mechanic is also where things get interesting: The scoring isn’t heavily based on just kills. I am usually pretty bad at console shooters, but in my playthroughs, I was able to snag more kills than deaths… and still ranked low on the final scoreboard. I wasn’t kill-obsessed either, but it certainly seems as if the scoring system uses a less traditional method, one that probably helps newbie players feel as if they’re contributing.

I’m a self-identified player-killer, but not a particularly competitive one. I like being out in the world, doing another task, and having PvP just happen. Trying to paint a wall in Splatoon and suddenly seeing a giant paint-squid coming at me certainly creates a similar feeling.

Indeed, Splatoon shines brightest not in its mechanics but in the mood and emotions it evokes. I’m a longtime Nintendo fan, but the art and overall style feels more modern than Nintendo’s usual motifs. There are strong Japanese influences, but the art seems to be directly Asian-inspired rather than pure anime. And there’s a distinct Animal Crossing vibe in the game’s customization too. Any piece of clothing that looks cool can be ordered for in-game currency and be “top tier.” Real players aren’t in your lobby area of the game, but their avatars are, and they carry their Miiverse (it’s like Nintendo Facebook) message or art. The latter is especially important, since fan art is used as graffiti in both the lobby and the arenas you fight in.

Nintendo’s still fairly restrictive with its players. The servers handled launch with very few hiccups, which was quite impressive. Nintendo doesn’t fully “get” online yet, though. For example, it’s not yet letting players change their loadouts and options or cancel out of the game when queued.

However, the setting is original, as is the vague story with its faint Adventure Time undertones. While I had fun with the competitive matches in my test demo, the long queues make me realize that Nintendo has been wise enough to wait for more people to hit the entrance cap before opening it to the public, just like gating raid or arena content in a new MMO. The overall gameplay is familiar with a fun twist, and while I’m waiting for a full Animal Crossing Online, Nintendo’s at least shown that it can make a functional online game that’s well balanced and entertaining.

The company’s about 20 years behind in the shooter scene, but perhaps in four or five more years, we’ll finally see it try to tackle a full-fledged MMO.

Update: Splatoon has since released ranked play, a new map, plus a new weapon, and at least for now, I’ve been able to find matches even during off hours due to the global nature of the game in a couple of minutes at most.

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Madda
Guest
Madda

kgptzac Splatoon 64!

Jack Pipsam
Guest
Jack Pipsam

Bannex19 Being an owner of the Xbox One and Wii U, I can agree the Wii U is a fantastic option to have alongside a core platform.

Denngar
Guest
Denngar

TronSheridan Not your cup of tea, but I think your predictions are off. Personally, I’m still playing it. I hate watching streamed games because they’re all boring to me (if I can watch a stream, I might as well play the damn game!). Doesn’t mean streaming is doomed because I don’t like it.

wjowski
Guest
wjowski

blackcat7k 
If they ever made a Pokemon MMORPG, it probably really would kill WoW.

Kanbe
Guest
Kanbe

I was really looking forward to this game. Thought it would be a great one to play with my fiancee until I saw that co-op is limited to only a 1v1 match =< other developers have largely left co-op behind (which is a travesty if you ask me) but Nintendo was the one developer I could always count on to actually play with people in the same room. Sure its still technically there in Splatoon but its very watered down

Bannex19
Guest
Bannex19

Well you cared enough to d-bag your way into commenting…

kgptzac
Guest
kgptzac

Since it is not and will most likely not be on PC, I guess I can hope for a good “clone” to come out in due time…

TronSheridan
Guest
TronSheridan

I’ve watched people stream it.  I was bored of it after 10 minutes.  And I expect most players will be bored of it after a week or so.  Just not my cup o tea I guess.

Armsbend
Guest
Armsbend

Bannex19 bringing console wars back?  Newsflash:  no one gives a shit.

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

Yeah the PS4 was looking like my upgdate to the current gen, but the money I’ve spent on the WiiU has felt like a bigger entertainment value.