Monday, February 29, 2016

One in a Million

Well, more like one in 1461, but I digress. I figured Leap Day would be as good a time as any to update this blog... let's just hope I don't wait until the next Leap Day to post another entry. Considering how much I've been neglecting this journal, it wouldn't be that much of a surprise...

Anyway! It's almost spring, and I thought now would be a pretty good time to dive back into Splatoon. I've had this family-friendly shooter for months, but I haven't spent any serious time with it, and figured it was time that changed. Let me just say, I'm enjoying this a lot more than I'd expected. Unlike the vast majority of games in this genre, it's just good, clean fun, accented with vivid color and mercifully free of the stress that voice chat would bring to the experience. 

It seems the Japanese agree with me... Splatoon has been hugely successful in that country, despite its well-documented aversion to online shooters. Every time I jump into a Turf War, half the other players have their names spelled out in katakana or hiragana. It doesn't change the experience at all, since Nintendo's servers are fast enough to make it seem like the other players are next door rather than half a world away, but the game's overseas popularity is nevertheless worth mentioning.

Another thing I'd like to point out is how streamlined and intuitive Splatoon is compared to other shooters. You won't spend a lot of time juggling your inventory, because you choose your weapons before each match and because the ink you spray is so incredibly versatile. The ability to dive into it for a quick escape makes your Inkling more maneuverable than the barrel-chested brutes from Gears of War, and opens the door to a variety of tricky obstacles in the single player mode. It's liberating to be able to navigate each devilishly designed stage without being chained to the pause menu or Ratchet and Clank's slightly kludgy weapons wheel.

Nintendo needed a new franchise to keep itself relevant in the 21st century, and Splatoon does just that, introducing a popular style of gameplay to the Wii U without forsaking the quirky, color-drenched atmosphere that draws players to Nintendo games. It doesn't remotely resemble the company's past hits, but Splatoon nevertheless deserves its place among them... and I'm eager to see where Nintendo takes it in the coming years.

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