When Splatoon came out on the Wii U, I kinda skipped it. I played a little bit, but I just wasn’t a huge fan of the Wii U, so I wasn’t drawn to play Splatoon on it. I am a huge fan of the Nintendo Switch; being a portable console, I’m much more drawn to it. With that out of the way, I can’t comment too heavily on how good of a sequel this is, but I can tell you my experience and thoughts on the game on the Switch.
This game screams style right from the word go. I’m heavily reminded of the late 80’s and early 90’s with the bright colors. The graffiti in the square and act of spreading ink everywhere strikes up memories of Jet Set Radio. You play as a character who can transform from a squid to a kid and back. Kids are armed with ink-filled squirt guns, brushes, paint rollers, or even paint buckets that they can use to cover everything in sight with their team’s colored ink. By hitting the LZ button, your kid can transform into a squid and swim through ink of their color, even up walls. While swimming on flat ground, you move at a much faster rate than you run as a kid. Weather it be giving yourself a way out or cutting off an opponent’s escape route, using ink in this manner is important to succeeding in pretty much every mode.
On the topic of modes, the most common mode everyone will likely spend a bunch of time in is called Turf War. In it, your goal isn’t to splat (Kill) the opposition, but to simply ink as much ground as you can with your team’s color. That’s it! Splatting opponents does have its advantages as whenever you die, it takes a few seconds before they respawn. That’s time they could be spreading ink. Even so, it’s important to note that your goal is to spread as much ink as you can. I find that this mode is the most casual, and you can really have fun with it even when you lose. At the end of a match, it’ll show you how many points you got in comparison to the other players. Use this to gauge how well you did in the game, and try to do better next time. Winning adds 1000 points to your score, so subtract that from the winning team players to get an idea how well you did against them, too. This mode is meant to be fun, so have fun with it. Experiment with the weapons, and leveling up your gear.
After you get to level 10 by playing Turf War, you can join Ranked mode. In ranked, there are three different battle types. First up is Splat Zones. This game has two teams competing for specific areas. The team that holds the selected zone(s) the longest will be the victor. As with Turf War, your goal here is to spread ink, but this time it’s in a specific area, so you’ll encounter enemy squid kids more frequently, so splatting them will be more important here. Next up, we have Tower Control. In this game, your goal is to capture a tower that moves very slowly, and makes periodic stops. The team that rides the tower to their enemy base wins. If time ends without a victor, the winner is decided by which team got it the furthest. If time expires and the losing team is in control of the tower, the game will go into sudden death until the losing team takes the lead or loses control of the tower. There will be a lot of splatting going on with everyone vying over the same tower. Spreading ink is much less important here outside of movement. The last ranked mode is called Rainmaker. This mode is like a reverse capture the flag mode. There’s an item called the Rainmaker somewhere in the stage and you need to bring it to the enemy base. While carrying it, your movement speed is slowed, but you’ve got a powered up attack. Working with your team is very important in this mode, and once again, the spreading of ink is not the goal.
League Battles are something new to Splatoon 2. Here, you can team up with a team of friends and compete with other teams for highest rankings. These league battles happen every two hours. Get a group of friends together to compete in the same game types as Ranked mode. This is great for people who don’t want to play with randoms, and just show how dominant their team synergy is.
The last multi-player mode is another new addition called Salmon Run. This is Splatoon’s take on a horde mode, and it’s both frustrating and addicting. Unfortunately, you can’t just play this mode whenever you want. Perhaps to make the mode feel special or to push players to the mode so the player base is less divided, Salmon Run is only available at certain times. These times are different every day and the only way to find out what time they’re happening is via the Nintendo app on your Android or Apple device. Alternatively, you can just be treated to the surprise or disappointment when you turn the game on. Regardless, this mode is the best way to get extra Crusty Sean tickets and some extra spending cash.
The last mode, and perhaps the first one you’ll play, is the single player mode called Hero mode. In it, you are tasked with aiding Calie in her search for the stolen Zapfish. This mode works well as a tutorial, but also has a bit of adventure and platforming. While most of the things they have you do in this mode won’t translate to multi-player games, there are a lot of advanced techniques that you can learn here. You will unlock Crusty Sean tickets here by finding them in the stages and beating them with each of the weapons. You will also unlock the Hero versions of the weapons by beating this mode with those weapons.
So what makes Splatoon 2 so good? Why do people the world over claim it to be such an addictingly good game? Simply put, people have always loved Nintendo’s aesthetics, but perhaps more than that, people like competing with one another. When you pair the two in the same package, it’s sure to be a hit. As for me, the real appeal comes in buying new gear and leveling it up which unlocks new abilities. Once you’ve filled all of the slots out, you can then go to a small sea urchin character, named Murch, to do a thing he calls scrubbing your gear. This takes the abilities you earned and gives you chunks to use later to customize your gear. Not only that, but now that gear you had can be leveled up again, giving you more abilities to scrub. The best way to grind these abilities is with the Splatfest tee-shirt you’re given after picking a side. Splatfests happen every 3 weeks and with the shirt, you can level it up and scrub it for only 2,000 coins. The normal cost is 20,000 coins, so this is a substantially cost effective way of getting a bunch of chunks cheap. Once you’ve got at least 10 chunks, you can set that ability into a piece of gear. It costs 20 chunks if it’ll be the second time that ability is on the same gear and 30 for the third time. Needless to say, this becomes incredibly addictive.
All is not perfect in the world of Splatoon 2 though. Nintendo has a history of exclusion when it comes to their control schemes. They decide that the game is meant to be controlled a certain way, and leave it up to the audience to adapt to it. Splatoon and Splatoon 2 default to using motion controls for the game. This is fine for the most part because the accuracy therein is phenomenal, however; they lock out the Y-axis with the right analog while using motion controls. Some have speculated that it’s because of this or that, but whatever the reason, I am not alone in disapproval of this decision. For me, it certainly would be better if I could have it my way, but I am gradually adjusting, playing with motion controls from time to time, but I ultimately have to switch back to analog sticks in order to fully enjoy the game. While I would like the controls to have options that suit my desires, there’s much more to it. People with disabilities lauded Sony’s inclusion of button remapping for the entire system, and there are a multitude of games that allow the player to adjust the controls however best fits their needs. Coupled with button remapping, the PS4 is one of the most accessible consoles on the market. Nintendo’s, “Our way or the highway”, approach actually punishes people who have disabilities, sometimes making their games completely unplayable for them. Splatoon slots right into that ideal, and it’s not better for it.
Even with that control issue, Splatoon 2 is one of my highest recommended titles on the Nintendo Switch.