‘Splatoon’ is getting ready to mess up your Wii U

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Splatoon
Developed by Nintendo EAD Group No. 2
Published by Nintendo
Available on Wii U

The shooter genre has placed the player in a variety of different combat scenarios over the years, with settings ranging from military to space military, so when something different appears, it tends to get noticed, especially when the game is produced by a developer not exactly known for its running-and-gunning. But that’s exactly what Nintendo’s new ink-covered online multiplayer IP Splatoon is all about, albeit with a twist.

Taking control of male or female Inklings (part human, part squid), the goal of this third-person splatter fest is not to blow your opponents to Davy Jones’ Locker, but instead cover as much of the various playable arenas in your ink color as possible. In the game’s basic mode, Turf War, racking up kills is still possible (with your foe’s watery death gurgle as a reward), but it won’t directly contribute to actually winning the match. Fast-paced painting is required, which serves not only to achieve ultimate victory, but also refills your ammo and allows for faster navigation through the level, as with the push of a button the Inkling goes full-on squid, swimming under fences and up walls. Your ink can also provide cover, with the sneaky cephalopod lurking below the surface, invisible to enemies. Only by mastering these techniques will a bow-tied cat named Judd pronounce you and your teammates the big winners.

An assortment of liquid-spewing weaponry will also be at your disposal, from the rapid-fire Splattershot, to the slower but more powerful .52 Gal, and the short range Splat Roller, good for coating vast swaths and steamrolling nearby foolish foes. Gameplay and tactics are affected by each, allowing for multiple play styles. Be ready for more puns with the special weapons, including the Killer Wail, a massive tornado of destructive ink. If these aren’t enough, more will be available to purchase in the hub area’s shop, where in-game currency and skill level determine what additional weapons and upgrades the crustacean store keeper will sell.

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Splatoon will also contain a single-player mode, which involves traversing a number of Mario Galaxy-like islands that offer multiple puzzles to solve and enemies to shoot before rocketing to the next. For those who are interested in the world’s canon, there is a story that involves the evil Octopus Corps stealing zapfish in order to get their revenge on the Inklings after being forced to live underground for ages. Or something like that. While a full campaign, Nintendo says this mode is mainly to help players gain the skill necessary to compete online, where the succulent meat of the game will be.

Rounding out the experience is a 1 vs 1 Battle Dojo, a two-player local co-op mode that has one player on the TV and the other using the gamepad. Nintendo will also release Ranked Battles sometime after launch to players sporting a level 10 or higher, the first being a territory defense match called Splat Zones, which has teams battling over a small patch of arena to see who can hold it for the longest. Ranked Battles will match players of similar skill by using an independent ranking system consisting of letter grades, so study up. Additionally, there will be no online chat, as Nintendo still isn’t comfortable with all the jerks out there.

Amiibo collectors will be happy (or frazzled) to hear that the game will be receiving support in the shape of two Inklings and a squid, the formers being sold separately and all three available in a pack. Tapping them to the gamepad will unlock costumes and gear, as well as extra challenges in the single player campaign.

Splatoon certainly looks different and exciting, with its charming, colorful vibe a welcome change of pace from whizzing bullets and fiery explosions the genre is known so well for. It’s set to release on Wii U May 28th in Japan, and the rest of the world May 29th.

-Patrick Murphy

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