More like SPLA2N, right? RIGHT?
Splatoon 2 is a third person shooter developed and published by Nintendo. It’s a fresh game, being the first new intellectual property they’ve created in over a decade. It’s an interesting take on shooters since it’s based on firing ink (and totally not paint) all over the multiplayer battle arena in a fight to cover the most ground before the timer runs out. Additionally, killing enemy players on the opposing team is treated as a “SPLAT!” and not a kill, making it far more family friendly than almost all the shooters currently available in the MP video gaming arena. That said, it also had a somewhat decent campaign attached to it and a brand new horde mode for additional gameplay. There’s also a hidden DDR game, no seriously.
Although not technically impressive, Splatoon 2 makes waves with some very aesthetically pleasing color palettes. The color of ink you use in every round of multiplayer and every stage of the campaign is random, so you get a fresh new color every time you play. The contrast between your and your opponents’ inks are always bright and vibrant, keeping everything very lively. Plus, there’s themed colors too. At the time of writing this review, I was able to take part in one of the game’s biggest online event features, #Splatfest! The theme of the event was Ketchup vs Mayonnaise so once you’ve picked a side you get to coat the arenas in your choice condiment. Which actually sounds kind of gross when you realize your character is literally swimming inside globs of mayo or catsup, but it works. Besides the ink, level designs between MP maps and the campaign all have enough unique textures to make it a thoroughly lively experience.
Nintendo is not always super big on the plot of their games and it shows here in this case. Mostly pedestrian and banal, the story mode has you taking on the fiendish “Octarians” in a variety of different boxed up pocket dimensions (or at least that’s how it’s structured). They all feature floating platforms and there’s very little rhyme or reason for these designs other than “it’s a videogame”. Your goal is to get through every level so you can save the great zapfish because reasons. Also, a character from the first game went missing. “GEE I WONDER WHAT HAPPENED?” The campaign hits the ground running though, and by the time you get to the ending, it just stops rather abruptly after a challenging final boss. The speaking NPCs in the game use a lot of totally kool 90’s lingo that actually provides more charm than cringe, so it gets points for being thematically consistent, as the game never takes itself too seriously during the entire ordeal.
The songs in the game are very hit and miss. Some songs are really exciting and energetic while others are filled with annoying sound effects and generic melodies. This is made apparent in the campaign where you will hear the same songs multiple times. The sound effects can annoy you sometimes. There’s a lot of “blub blub blub” linguistics for your fellow squidkids, and while it is tolerable at first, it gets pretty grating and obnoxious later on. But, when it comes to the sound effects for guns and abilities, Nintendo really knows how to push that button in your head that satisfies you, splat after splat. Notably, while I didn’t care for a lot of the music, the “one minute warning” song that plays at the end of every multiplayer match is extremely catchy and very fitting inside the Splatoon 2 universe.
Solid shooting gameplay experience here. The multiplayer is definitely the main focus of the title and gives you plenty of variety in weapons and gear so you can play the game your way. As said before, the goal is to coat the map in your paint using a plethora of different ink-firing weapons at your disposal. If you feel like running and gunning, there’s guns for that. Want a lot of splash damage? One of the ‘guns’ is literally just a bucket of paint that works like a shotgun. There’s also an ink Gatling gun for heavy firing action. Or, you can just whip out a paint roller and soak up the map with ink in a support role. I found this mechanic in particular to be a lot of fun, especially when you start painting over all of the enemy team’s hard work and they don’t know it. As for the campaign, it’s a resounding “meh” as you work your way through a handful of loosely thrown-together areas full of floating platforms and various challenges that feel less like a game and more like an extended version of the middle section from Portal 2. But other than a couple of frustrating moments, the execution of the game’s mechanics is nearly perfect.
Albeit frustrating sometimes, Splatoon 2 keeps you coming back again and again and again. This is the most fun I’ve had with online multiplayer participation since Titanfall 2. For me, that is a very big deal because while I used to be a fan of multiplayer, I gradually lost interest until just recently. I have two gripes with this game. It takes a really really long time grinding through the game’s “Regular Battle” mode in order to reach “Ranked Battle” which adds more game types on top of “Turf War”. But once you get there, you realize the new modes aren’t as fun as Turf War anyway, so that’s kind of a wash overall. It would also be nice if the battle lobby let you see what your team’s loadout is going to look like so you don’t end up having two paint roller players on your team, because that’s usually a losing combination. But, the game is just so much fun that even if you aren’t winning, you’re still having a blast.
Splatoon 2 is no different from the original WiiU release in any way other than the addition of the new horde mode called “Salmon Run” (which for some strange reason is only periodically available). For many players though, this is acceptable as the number of people who have not owned a WiiU but decided to pick up a Switch will find a lot to love with this fresh and original series. Besides some minor snags here and there, you’re almost completely guaranteed to get sucked into this excitingly chaotic wonder.