Video Game Review: Splatoon
This week, I am reviewing Splatoon for the Wii U. Splatoon was released in May 2015, and is currently priced at $54.99 on Amazon. This game is pretty significant for Nintendo because it has been a long time since Nintendo has created a new universe from scratch instead of rebooting old characters.
Quick Synopsis: Splatoon is a third person shooter game. “Third person shooter” means your character shoots enemies or targets, and you view the game environment as if you are standing behind your character. It looks exactly like this:
In Splatoon, your character is called an “inkling”. They’re pretty cute, and can change between a humanoid form and a squid form, each with their own capabilities. For example, the squid form can swim through ink EVEN UP WALLS. The basic premise is to shoot as much ink on walls, floors, or at targets as possible, while your opponents do the same. Players can also try to sabotage their opponents’ attempts. There are different ways to play Splatoon, depending on how many players are present.
Controls: Splatoon highly recommends using the Gamepad because players can point it at the TV screen to aim and shoot. Personally, I disliked this feature, and decided to disable it. I preferred using the joystick, probably because it is the way I am used to playing video games, but I can see why using the motion sensor can be fun.
Single Player Campaign: If there is only one player present, you can play a single player campaign. The campaign is pretty fun, especially for a game that is pushing its multiplayer platform. Games that focus on multiplayer experiences tend to have awful single player campaigns, so my low expectations were pleasantly exceeded! The campaign’s plot is pretty simple: the squids and evil octopi are fighting, and your job is to save the world before the evil octopi invade. What’s different about the single player campaign is the goal isn’t necessarily SQUIRT INK EVERYWHERE like in multiplayer game. Instead, it’s more like a puzzle, where your job is to get from Point A to Point B using ink and your wits. The levels aren’t particularly difficult, but I still had a lot of fun playing.
Online Battles: There are different types of online battles, all of which are multiplayer. The first one is “Turf War”, which is 4 versus 4, and you play with random people. The goal is to cover the arena with more ink than your opponents, all while trying to take them out. As you can imagine, an arena with 8 players shooting ink everywhere can be chaotic, and it is! The second type of online battle is a “Ranked Battle”, which simply means it is a more competitive version of “Turf War” and you can win rewards while improving your rank.
The third type of online battle is the same as “Turf War”, but you can host your own private battles. This means you and your friends can play by yourselves instead of with randomly assigned strangers. I imagine only the teens who: have a Wii U, have a stable internet connection at home, and own their own copy of the game are able to enjoy this feature. This eliminates many teens who are not privileged enough to have all three things, and what is worse is the game does not offer the equivalent of a “Turf War” battle for players who are all physically in the same room (also known as a “local” game).
Battle Dojo: If there are two players physically in the same room, you can play in the “Battle Dojo”, which is 1 vs. 1. One player uses the Wii U Gamepad (including the screen), and the second player can use any type of Wii U controller and the TV Screen. For me, this was an unusual experience because I’m used to old school gaming where the TV screen would be split down the middle, and you would use one side of the screen. I suppose this eliminates the ability to spy on your opponent’s screen, but that’s half the fun!
When the game begins, there is a column of light that appears in the distance. As your character runs towards that light, balloons start popping up for you to shoot. Each balloon shot is worth 1 point but in the last minute of the game, they are worth 2 points. If you get splatted by our opponent, you lose half your points. The goal is to beat your opponent by either getting 30 points or by having the most points at the end of 3 minutes. As you can guess, “Battle Dojo” isn’t nearly as engaging as a “Turf War” and after playing a few rounds, players can get bored with it.
Verdict: I would recommend this game as a core purchase for a video game collection. It is certainly fun to play at home either in the single player campaign or in online multiplayer. It is also a rare third person shooter game that doesn’t revolve the “fun” on the ability to violently shoot other players.
If you have a Teen Game Night program, I would recommend this game as a secondary purchase, but only if you can convince your teens to swap out Super Smash Bros. for another Wii U game that is limited to only two players. If “Turf Wars” could be played like “Battle Dojo” where more than two players could play in the same room, Splatoon would easily rival Super Smash Bros. as the best game for Teen Game Night programs.
Review by Alanna Graves, MLIS
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
SLJ Blog Network