Splatoon Global Testfire – Impressions

Now a lot of people seem to go on about how “Nintendo does nothing new” or “Everything is a rehash!” Well, Splatoon is set to change things up in that regard; a lot!
Splatoon is a “turf-war” style game, with an objective to cover the most turf. They had a Global Testfire event this weekend, and I got to check it out a bit. Here are my impressions on it.

As I said, Splatoon is a third-person shooter turf-war style of game. You play as a Inkling (aka Squid), which has some customization to it; you can choose boy or girl, skin tone, and eye colour. The game boasts that in the full version there will be MUCH more, like different outfits and “perks” similar to other shooter games.  The objective is, in teams of 4 in 3 minute matches, to try to cover as much area as possible using ink while hindering the opponents from doing so. This is done by either spraying over their ink, or (more commonly) shooting them until the go pop. After a short respawn however, they are jumping back into action; literally. When you die, you use the GamePad to select another teammate and jump to their location. You can also quickly zip around the area by turning into a squid and moving speedily across your own ink; this is also how you reload. Opponents ink slows you down in both forms, so clearing a path for yourself is generally an important thing to keep in mind (or blocking a path of another squid).

In many fans eyes, they did something terribly, terribly wrong with it; there was only THREE HOURS you were able to play. And they weren’t all at once; oh no, they were spread between a couple of days. Specifically from 8-9pm PST on May 8th, and 4am-5am PST and Noon-1pm PST. While it is a weekend, some of those hours (namely the 4-5am) are kinda ridiculous; though considering that Japan is also in this demo, that would be 5-6pm. I admit, I was only able to play one hour of it, but you can fit a bunch of 3 minutes matches into that hour.

While it was released as the demo, the Global Testfire served two purposes; have people try out the game and see how it is, and to test the server stress. By forcing everyone into such small timeslots, the maximum amount of people would be on the servers.

The demo gave you 4 preset loadouts to use. A loadout consists of 3 weapons; Main, Sub, and Special.
Main weapon is, as the name implies, the weapon you mostly use. This is typically standard and does standard amount of damage / ink spray. There is main weapon of the game, the Splattershot (a machine gun), which is average in about every sense. The Splattershot Jr, which has less range but wider area than the Splattershot. Next up there is the sniper rifle of the game; the Splat Charger. As the name implies, it requires you to charge up, and then it fires a line of ink. It has considerably more range than the previous two. Lastly, the Splat Roller; it is a paint-roller through and through; its absolutely terrible for combat (unless you run someone over), but by golly can it paint a lot of ground quickly.

Sub weapons are all bombs (in the demo), so they function like grenades. They use a considerable amount of ink. There are 3 types; Splat Bomb (explodes on contact, big damage), Burst Bomb (explodes on contact, less damage, less ink), and Suction Bomb (sticks to almost any surface, goes off after a few seconds).

Special weapons take a while to charge by splatting ink, but then unleash devastating effects for a few seconds upon use. The demo had 3; Bubbler (rebounds ink, can go to a teammate if you touch them), Bomb Rush (unlimited attack of proximity bombs for a short time), and Killer Wail (shoots a large cyclone of ink that goes through buildings, but it doesn’t spread actual ink; it can hurt opponents though).

The loadouts it gives you are:
Splattershot – Burst Bomb – Bomb Rush
Splattershot Jr – Splat Bomb – Bubbler
Splat Charger – Burst Bomb – Bomb Rush
Splat Roller – Suction Bomb – Killer Wail

There was also 2 stages in the demo; Walleye Warehouse, a fairly open area with some hallways to sneak through, and Saltspray Rig, an oil (or ink?) rig-like stage with catwalks and a lot of elevation changes.

Of course, the main game intends to have MUCH more stages and weapons to choose from.

Now that was a lot, I know; however it is difficult to just jump in and explain the game to someone. Its a new project from Nintendo which is vastly different than almost ANYTHING out there currently. Playing it is a blast; the weapons are balanced enough to not feel TOO bad when dying (rollers around corners are rough, though), stages that are big enough to not be cramped but small enough to not be asking “Where is everyone?”, and loads of colours everywhere. I didn’t really get enough out of the maps to decide which I liked better, though it would be weapon-dependent.

The controls by default used the tilt functions for up/down, but that could be disabled; trying both modes I liked the non-tilt more, but I may just be used to that and need more time for the tilt method. Unfortunately, the game (in multi-player, at least) must use the GamePad, as you use it to A) see the map, and B) jump to a teammate when you respawn. You get used to it, but the GamePad’s fairly low battery life can be a hindrance on extended sessions.

In terms of loadouts, I found the Splattershot one to be nice and balanced. The Charger was very interesting, though, and will probably experiment more with it in game. The Roller was still fun… though it is mostly a support weapons, just for marking territory.

All in all, aside from the somewhat-poor time windows for it, it was an extremely fun game to play. I never really felt cheated by anything in-game, and it is a fresh take on the Third Person Shooter genre, which is full of cover shooting games like Gears of War and The Last of Us. Yes, it certainly doesn’t aim for realism, but it aims for FUN and it does a damn good job doing it.

Look out for Splatoon later this month on May 29th, only on the Nintendo WiiU.

(Note: It took a LOT of power to not make squid puns… I’ll save those for the full review later)

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