Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

With a name like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the Switch’s edition to Nintendo’s massively-successful crossover fighter certainly gave itself a lot to live up to. Somewhat miraculously, Ultimate manages to pull that very feat off, delivering what is undoubtedly the best entry in the long-running series to date. Bursting at the seams with content and fine-tuning the series’ gameplay, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to its lofty expectations, even if a lackluster adventure mode and a thin (and inconsistent) lineup of new fighters means it doesn’t quite surpass them.

Super Smash Bros. really doesn’t need an introduction at this point. The franchise has become one of Nintendo’s biggest sellers thanks to its engrossing gameplay, which combines elements of traditional fighting games with Mario Kart-esque party elements, all while incorporating sumo style rules that make it unique unto itself.

By ‘sumo style’ rules, I of course refer to Super Smash Bros’ key mechanic of sending opponents off the screen – similar to sumos throwing each other out of the ring – in order to defeat them, as opposed to depleting a health bar as in most fighters. Though with that said, the ‘Stamina mode’ first introduced to the series in Melee, in which players do deplete each other’s health, returns as one of Ultimate’s primary game modes, no longer relegated to a kind of bonus mode as in the past.

That seemingly small change is indicative of the very nature of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This is the Super Smash Bros. that attempts to legitimize every play style for the series, and to appease every type of Smash fan. And for the most part, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate wildly succeeds in doing just that.

If you’re a serious Smash player, you can remove items and play on flat stages a la Final Destination or small stages with minimal platforms in the vein of the classic Battlefield stage, with no match-altering Final Smashes included. Players who want chaotic fun can have all items active, Final Smashes turned on, and enable every last, crazy stage hazard and gimmick. Or, if you’re somewhere in between, you can play on the standard stages with the gimmicks turned off, only allow Final Smashes by means of building up a power meter during battle, and only enable the occasional Pokeball and Assist Trophy in regards to items.

The ways in which you can customize matches are boundless. This really is the Super Smash Bros. that can appeal to any Nintendo fan. At least in terms of the core gameplay, that is.

If there is one glaring downside with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it’s with the game’s adventure mode. Dubbed ‘World of Light,’ Ultimate’s adventure mode is mind-numbingly tedious, and simply not worth the time and effort it takes to see it to the end.

In World of Light, players initially take control of Kirby, the only survivor of a Thanos-style mass extinction, as they progress through one battle after another, unlocking the other characters and collecting ‘Spirits,’ which are won after defeating opponents in possession of said Spirits.

These Spirits are a new feature in Ultimate, replacing the series’ long-standing trophy collectibles. It’s ultimately an unfair trade. While the trophies of Smash’s past featured unique character models and gave some insights into Nintendo (and gaming) history, the Spirits are merely presented as stock promotional art from past games, and provide statistical bonuses to your characters when equipped. Spirits can grant boosts to attributes like strength or speed, or provide you with a special ability (such as starting fights with a particular item, or being resistant to certain types of attacks).

This may sound interesting in concept, but it kind of goes against the very nature of Super Smash Bros. This is a fighting series all about learning the different play styles of the various characters. So if you have Spirits activated in the standard game, it makes things more about who has the best Spirits equipped, as opposed to who played the best in any given round.

Suffice to say the Spirits find all of their appeal in the single player World of Light mode. Though even then, the game often mishandles their usage. Pulling a page out of Paper Marios Sticker Star and Color Splash, there are a number of battles in World of Light in which it is necessary to have specific Spirits equipped in order to win. If the Spirits gave you advantages in these situations, that’d be fine. But on more than one occasion you will come across a battle in which victory is impossible unless you have a specific Spirit equipped.

Another issue with World of Light is that it’s just too long for its own good. It features an unnecessary amount of branching paths, alternate routes, and  overall battles. And when it finally looks like you’re done with it, World of Light pulls a Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins on the player and extends the adventure by rather lazy means. To detract from the experience even further, World of Light is exclusively played by a single player. Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s adventure mode, Subspace Emissary, was far from a winner, but at least I could play that with a friend.

Not to mention Subspace Emissary served as a fast means of unlocking every character. But World of Light just drags on and on, with the lonesome tedium making you seek one of the many other means of unlocking the characters (thankfully, there are no shortage of options when it comes to expanding the roster). The fact that World of Light actually makes me long for Subspace Emissary could be a sign that maybe Super Smash Bros. is better off without an adventure mode at all.

Of course, the adventure mode is just a small part of the overall package, and every other mode included in the game delivers in spades: Classic Mode is more fun than ever, and includes unique challenges for every last fighter. Tournaments are easier to set up than ever before. New Squad Strikes have players selecting teams of characters and eliminating them one by one. Smashdown sees players cycle through the entire roster one at a time, with previously selected characters getting locked out after use. The variety never ceases to impress.

On the concept of variety, the biggest selling point of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is that every playable character from the franchise’s history is present. If they were playable in a past Super Smash Bros. title, they’re playable here. So those of you who missed Solid Snake for being omitted from Super Smash Bros. on Wii U/3DS, he’s back. Young Link and Toon Link can now face off against one another. Pichu makes his return after seventeen years (they can’t all be winners). The DLC characters from Wii U/3DS return. Even the good ol’ Ice Climbers have found their way back to the series, after technical limitations on the 3DS prevented their appearance in the last installments. And yes, we even get a handful of new characters joining the fray, meaning that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has all of the character variety of each and every one of its predecessors put together and then some.

“You’re the man now, Croc!”

Speaking of the new characters, that’s where things can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to selections. Ridley and King K. Rool feel like the most meaningful newcomers, given that they’ve been in high demand from fans since Melee. Splatoon’s Inklings also make sense as they represent one of Nintendo’s contemporary success stories. And Simon Belmont feels long overdue in the third-party character department (seriously, besides Mega Man, what other third-party character even compares to Castlevania’s early history with Nintendo?).

The remaining newcomers, however, are a bit of a mixed bag. Isabelle from Animal Crossing – though a welcome addition in her own right – doesn’t exactly come across as a character fans were dying to see join the series. Incineroar feels like he could have been any randomly selected Pokemon. And the downloadable Piranha Plant just feels like a big middle finger to the fans who have been requesting their favorite characters for years. That’s not to say that these characters detract from the gameplay by any means. But for a series so grounded in fanservice, some of these character selections feel misguided.

“Evil kings from classic series are the coolest!”

Perhaps with more newcomers the more disappointing entries wouldn’t stick out so much. But with most of the emphasis going towards bringing back every past character, you kind of wish that the smaller quantity of newcomers would have translated to a consistent quality. And that’s unfortunately not always the case.

Some fans may also lament that clone characters – now officially referred to as “echo fighters” – are still present, but at least now they’re categorized appropriately, and not treated as though they’re full-on additions to the franchise.

“The colors, Duke! The colors!”

Still, it’s hard to complain too much when Ultimate boasts seventy unique characters (with more on the way via DLC. Here’s hoping some favorites make the cut). There’s simply never a shortage of characters to choose from, and all of them bring their own sense of fun to the gameplay (with the possible exceptions of the excessive amount of sword fighters from Fire Emblem, who often feel interchangeable even when they aren’t clones).

Each character’s Final Smash has also been altered this time around, as they take on a more cinematic approach. Unfortunately, while the Final Smashes look more impressive than ever, their infrequent interactivity makes them less fun than in previous installments. This was probably done for the sake of balance, which is admirable. Though chances are, if you have Final Smashes active, you aren’t exactly aiming for a balanced, competitive bout.

The stages also adhere to Ultimate’s “everything but the kitchen sink” mentality. Although there are a few omissions, the majority of stage’s from past Super Smash Bros. titles make a return (unfortunately, Brawl’s Electroplankton-inspired stage is bafflingly among them). There are only four brand-new stages in the base game: Odyssey and Breath of the Wild themed levels for Mario and Zelda, and courses based on newly-represented series Splatoon and Castlevania. That may not sound like a whole lot of newness, but more stages are planned to be added along with the DLC characters. Besides, with the returning courses, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate includes over one-hundred different locations to do battle. And as stated, every last stage comes in three different versions (standard, Battlefield, and Final Destination), so you’re not very likely to get bored from repetition.

For those who don’t always have someone at the ready for some couch multiplayer, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also expands the series’ online capabilities. Creating online matches has been streamlined by means of creating arenas, where players can set the rules as they see fit. You can even search for specific rulesets if you want to join an arena that’s more to your play style (though admittedly, the search engine needs some work). It’s now much, much easier to set up or join an online match and play with or against Smash players from around the world.

Sadly, the online functionality still isn’t perfect. Though lag is considerably less frequent than in Brawl or Wii U/3DS, it’s still present more often than you’d like. It isn’t limited to worldwide matches, either. I’ve encountered some slowdowns in games against my friends. Again, the lag isn’t so common as to detract from the overall experience, but considering that in five years’ time I’ve never encountered any lag issues in Mario Kart 8 (whether on Wii U or Switch), you have to wonder how and why Nintendo can’t replicate that level of online functionality with their other multiplayer franchises.

Other quibbles with the online mode include some minor (but no less irritating) design quirks, such as leaving your place in cue for the next fight in an arena just to change your character’s color (let alone change your character). Or why entering the spectator stands also removes you from cue (why the cue and spectator stands aren’t one and the same is anyone’s guess). Again, these are all just minor annoyances, but you have to wonder why they’re there at all.

Of course, it must be emphasized that, with the exception of the World of Light adventure mode, all of the complaints to be had with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are minor grievances in the big picture. The series’ signature gameplay has never felt so polished, the content has never felt this endless, and with every last character in franchise history present, Super Smash Bros. has never felt this complete.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is also a technical showcase of the Switch’s capabilities. Though it retains a similar overall look to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS and Brawl, the graphics are much sharper and more refined. The level of background detail in the stages themselves – often so small you’d never see them in the heat of battle – is a testament to the abilities of the artists behind the game. The character animations are similarly impressive, especially those with unique characteristics (such as DK’s eyes bulging out of his head when hit, Donkey Kong Country-style; or Wario’s manic, sporadic movements).

Complimenting these visuals is a soundtrack that represents an unrivaled array of video game music, featured in both their original and new remixed forms in addition to many remixes from past Super Smash Bros. installments. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s quite as many new pieces of music added into the fray as Brawl and Wii U/3DS brought to the table, but it’s hard to complain too much when the music is this terrific. Not to mention the soundtrack to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is inarguably the biggest library of classic video game themes ever compacted into a single game.

On the whole, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an absolute winner. Its overall sense of newness may not be as prominent as the past few entries, but its inclusion of the best elements of every past installment, along with each and every last one of their characters, makes this the definitive entry in the long-running Super Smash Bros. series to date. With the exception of its egregious adventure mode, everything about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is exploding with fun. With so many characters, stages, modes, and options, the content included in the package is seemingly bottomless, leading to an unparalleled replay value.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is not only the best game in the series, it’s one of the greatest multiplayer games ever made.

 

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Why Are There Two Splatoon 2 Reviews?

You may or may not have noticed that the last two posts on Wizard Dojo were reviews for Splatoon 2. Two different reviews, but for the same game and with the same basic title (“Splatoon 2 Review.” So clever).

If you’re wondering why that is, it’s just because the first one was written by AfterStory’s Alex, while the second one was written by me (which hopefully you noticed by the author boxes at the bottom of the reviews).

Why have two different reviews for the same game? Well, why not? When Sir Alex sold his soul to me became part of the Dojo, we both agreed that we’d review whatever games we wanted to, even if the other already reviewed it. That way, certain games can have a “second opinion” thrown in for good measure (I, for example, plan on writing my own reviews for Persona 5 and Nier: Automata sometime down the road).

But why did we call them both the same thing? Well, truth be told, both of us agreed for second reviews for games to be referred to as second opinions. But Mr. AfterStory, kindly fellow that he is, didn’t think my reviews should be deemed “secondary” on my site (though I personally don’t mind).

So yeah, there is a Splatoon 2 review from both of the current authors here at the Dojo, but do you, my beautiful readers, have any suggestions for what we should refer to repeat reviews? Should they just have identical titles just because? Or should a second review be referred to as a second opinion, or something else entirely? Feel free to offer any suggestions.

Splatoon 2 Review

When Splatoon was first revealed at E3 2014, it made quite the splash. Not only was it Nintendo’s first major new IP since Pikmin some thirteen years earlier, it was also the big N’s take on the shooter genre. When it was released in 2015, Splatoon was every bit the breath of fresh air we hoped it would be. By tossing away the usual violence, weaponry and “dark, gritty” nature that’s usually associated with shooters, and replacing them with squid/kid hybrids who shoot colored ink at each other in battles to determine which team can make the biggest mess, Nintendo made the most self-cannibalizing genre in gaming feel new again. Splatoon ended up being one of the few Wii U titles that would go on to become a Nintendo staple. But does Splatoon 2 – released a mere two years after the original – manage to replicate that sense of newness?

The short answer to that is yes. Though Splatoon 2 doesn’t radically change the experience, it adds enough new features to help give it some identity of its own. And the original Splatoon was fresh and original enough, that even when Splatoon 2 is veering in more familiar territory, it’s still not overly familiar.

Splatoon 2 follows the same basic format as its predecessor: Players take control of an Inkling, which can use weapons to shoot ink in their humanoid form, and swim in ink colored surfaces for fast travel and reload in squid form. Players are immediately thrust into the city of Inkopolis, which serves as the game’s hub. In this hub players can purchase new weapons and clothing with the points they earn in online matches. Each weapon comes with a secondary weapon and a special weapon, the latter of which is slowly built up as you ink the ground during a match. Clothing, meanwhile, provide various passive bonuses (faster speed, secondary weapons use less ink, etc.).

Some may lament that every weapon is fixed with a specific secondary and special. But like the original game, it helps keep things balanced, with the less versatile primary weapons compensating with the more powerful secondaries and specials, and vice versa. Splatoon 2 wants players to try out different sets and see what works for them. More specifically, what works for them on different specific levels.

This brings us to one of Splatoon 2’s more questionable design choices, as it retains the first game’s already limited matchmaking options. Splatoon 2 features three primary modes of online play: Regular Battles for casual play, Ranked Battles to increase your rank, and League Battles, where you can team up with your friends.

Regular Battle sees two teams of four Inklings vying to paint more of the map their ink color than the opposing team in matches called Turf War. Ranked Battles work in rotation with three different match types: Splat Zones (essentially King of the Hill, where the team who can keep a designated spot their color the longest wins), Tower Control – where teams try to maintain control of a mobile tower to reach checkpoints – and Rainmaker, which is akin to capture the flag, and sees the team’s fighting over the titular Rainmaker weapon to take it to the opposing team’s base.

It’s already a bit of a bummer that Regular Battles are confined to Turf War, and that the different modes of Ranked Battle are dictated by rotation, but what makes the matchmaking even more limited is that the levels themselves are also on rotation; with two levels available to each mode for two hours’ time. It’s understandable that Nintendo wants players to choose their weapon set based on how they wish to play a given level, but it’s less understandable that the players don’t even get any say-so as to which  of the available levels they’ll play. Instead of player votes determining a stage, the map is randomly selected. And with only two available options at a time in any given mode, expect some repetition during play sessions.

There is a new co-operative mode included in Splatoon 2 called Salmon Run, in which players work together to fight off waves of enemies (called Salmonids). Salmon Run is a great addition to the Splatoon experience, but it comes with a glaring caveat: it’s only available at certain designated times! It’s a baffling limitation on what is otherwise a stellar new mode of play.

“The single-player campaign features surprisingly memorable boss fights.”

Like its predecessor, Splatoon 2 also features a single-player campaign, which takes the Splatoon gameplay, and throws it into something of a 3D platformer, complete with collectible goodies. The single-player mode is actually a lot of fun, and is an improvement over the campaign from the first game, with some clever level design, boss fights, and a stronger connection to the multiplayer modes, as you can now find items that may earn you double experience points or coins obtained during matches.

Aside from the game modes, the biggest difference between Splatoon 2 and the original game is that this sequel has a much larger array of weapons and clothing to purchase. That may not sound like a whole lot, but some of these items can change up the gameplay considerably (the “duel pistol” weapon type allows you to perform a rolling dodge, for example). With more weapon types and bonuses at play, Splatoon 2 keeps things feeling fresh, if maybe not surprising.

Splatoon 2 is an exceptionally fun game. It retains the addictive, unique gameplay of the original while adding a few tweaks and improvements. And to top it off, the game includes a rocking soundtrack and decent amount of 90s-style attitude that differentiates its tone from other Nintendo franchises. But Splatoon 2 also carries with it the baggage of the original, most notable of which being the extremely limited matchmaking options. And although the new weapons, items and modes definitely make Splatoon 2 stand out from its predecessor, they only do so to a certain degree.

Splatoon 2 is an improvement over the original, but more in a vein similar to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was to Mario Kart 8. That is to say that Splatoon 2 – great as it is – feels more like like an enhanced version of Splatoon, as opposed to a full-blown sequel. Though again, the uniqueness that Splatoon brought to its genre is still fresh enough that the similarities aren’t a major complaint.

It may not reinvent what Splatoon started, but Splatoon 2 proudly carries the torch of the series with meaningful additions and improvements, making for what is probably the best modern multiplayer shooter not called Overwatch.

 

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Top 5 Games of 2015 (Game of the Year)

2015 was a tremendous year in video games. We had AAA blockbusters, indie darlings, and games from all genres and categories reach great heights in quality.

Exceptionalist that I am, some games were undoubtedly better than others. Of all of 2015’s great games, these five stood out the most to me.

These five games, for one reason or another, proved to be the cream of the crop. They may not quite be the same games you’ll see dominate other people’s lists, but they are the games that had the most impact on me.

Without further ado, my top five favorite video games of 2015. Continue reading “Top 5 Games of 2015 (Game of the Year)”

Video Game Awards 2016: Best Multiplayer

Time to start some video game awards! 2015 was a pretty great year for video games in a lot of ways. It seemed like a number of quality titles were released in just about every category and genre. So let’s get things started with a strong category, Best Multiplayer!

When it comes to multiplayer gaming in 2015, there was really only one game I could have picked due to its originality and sheer fun.

 

Winner: Splatoon

Splatoon

Splatoon is one of the most original games in years, and a wonderful addition to Nintendo’s peerless catalogue of franchises. A multiplayer shooter in which there’s no actual shooting. Splatoon is Nintendo’s reinvention of a genre that had seemingly run out of ideas.

The concept of Splatoon is simple: You play as squid/kids who shoot colored ink from their guns. The team that covers most of the arena with their color is the winner.

What Nintendo managed to pull off with that simple idea is astounding, and it’s only gotten better better through the game’s many updates.

Splatoon is Nintendo’s newest IP, and it is quickly growing into one of the Big N’s standout franchises. And with good reason, it’s a stellar multiplayer experience through and through.

Runner-up: Rocket League

Top 10 Wii U Games (So Far)

Wii U

The Wii U is a devastatingly underrated system. It’s ousted the GameCube as Nintendo’s least-selling home console of all time. Because of that, gamers all over the internet, true to their  cynical nature, see that as a reflection of the quality of the system itself (of course, they also dismissed the original Wii because it sold well, so go figure). But despite being the butt of jokes on the internet and its less-than desirable sales figures, the Wii U actually boasts a really impressive library of games.

Sure, Nintendo really needed to emphasize the console over the controller in its early marketing strategies, the Gamepad needed to be used more effectively in more games, and one can’t help but think that simply naming the console “Wii 2” could have helped boost sales by itself (because seriously, what does the “U” mean?). Despite this questionable decision-making and marketing, the Wii U has ultimately proven to be a terrific console where it counts, and that’s the games.

Yes, the Wii U had a slow first few months, but once it started picking up steam around mid-2013 it’s released some of the best games in recent years. Arguably the best part is that you can’t play them anywhere else. Though console exclusives are becoming rarer on competing hardware, they often prove to be the more definitive titles of their generations, and it’s an area in which Nintendo always excels.

Though the Wii U still has some big games on the horizon (including a new Star Fox and The Legend of Zelda), I think it’s safe to say that rumblings of Nintendo’s next console, codenamed “NX,” means that its days as a priority for Nintendo are slowing down. Sure, Nintendo has stated that they’ll still support the Wii U even after NX launches, but I think the Wii U’s underwhelming sales will make it a short-term continued support (Wii U might have a good few months and a couple of big games after NX, but I can’t imagine it would go much farther). I feel now is a good time to reflect on the many great games the Wii U has provided over the past three years, even if I may have to make a revised edition after the last waves of big games hit the console in the year ahead.

Despite Nintendo being backed into a wall in regards to the Wii U, or perhaps because of it, Nintendo has ended up creating some of the greatest lineups of games in their history for the console. It’s given us the most balanced Mario Kart, the most intricate Smash Bros. and the best version of the best 3D Zelda yet made. But which Wii U games are the best?

The following is my list of the top 10 greatest Wii U games. The ten Wii U titles that are the most fun. The 10 most definitive. The 10 games that all those people who still refuse to get a Wii U are missing out on the most. Seriously people, stop using the whole “waiting for Zelda” excuse as a crutch. Nintendo consoles are more than just a Zelda title.

One final note, I have decided not to include The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD in this countdown. Despite being one of my favorite video games, it would feel kind of cheap to list a remake here with all the original Wii U titles, even if Wind Waker HD has some of the best uses of the Gamepad.

So without further ado, the top 10 Wii U games! But first, some runners-up! Continue reading “Top 10 Wii U Games (So Far)”

Splatoon Review

Splatoon

Splatoon is a parody of everything Nintendo isn’t. The shooter is the single most oversaturated and self-cannibalizing genre out there, but up until now, Nintendo hasn’t touched it. Splatoon is the team-based shooter reimagined by Nintendo, with bulky space marines and modern warfare replaced with kids who can morph into squids and guns that shoot colored ink. Although it has its issues, Splatoon breathes a new life into a genre that has felt empty for far too long.

SplatoonPlayers take control of an “Inkling” and are thrust into the city of Inkopolis, which serves as the game’s hub area. At the center of Inkopolis is a tower that leads to the game’s online multiplayer modes, letting you know right off the bat that this is a game built around its online modes. To the side of the tower are shops where players can purchase new weapons, shirts, headwear and shoes with the money they gain from winning matches. There’s also a crazy old man named Captain Cuddlefish found in a manhole near the tower, and he’ll lead you to the game’s single player campaign.

The core gameplay works just fine for the most part. Players spread their ink through their various weapons, which come in three categories: Shooters are smaller guns that have shorter range, but can be fired rapidly and don’t use up ink as quickly. Chargers are long-range weapons that – as their name suggests – require a brief charge up time, but they cover more ground in a single shot. Then there are Rollers, which resemble giant paint rollers and brushes that cover ground in ink the quickest and are used as melee weapons against opponents. The Inklings can also transform into squids to swim through their ink to refill their ammo and move faster, and can even swim up walls.Splatoon

Each gun in the game also includes a secondary weapon (such as sprinklers that spread ink in all directions or shower heads that provide a shield of ink) and a special weapon (like the ability to transform into an invincible Kraken for a short time, or the devastating “Ink Strike” missile). The secondary weapons come in handy, but use up a lot of ink, so you need to be strategic with how you use them. In order to use the special weapons, you need to fill up a meter by spreading ink across the ground. If you get “splatted” by an enemy, you lose a good chunk of the meter, which prevents the special weapons from being too frequent.

At first, I was a little disappointed that you couldn’t customize the weapon setup, as every main weapon is automatically set with a fixed secondary and special weapon. But when delving deeper into the game, it ended up being for the best, as it helps balance things out. The weaker main weapons usually get the more powerful secondary and special, and visa verca.

The only downside to the control is that the Gamepad’s motion sensor is used for the camera. I have no qualms with motion-controlled gaming, but using it for the camera control in a game like this can feel a little awkward. Splatoon’s camerawork can get a bit cumbersome in hectic situations. You can set the camera back in place with a press of the Y button, but you’ll find yourself doing this more often than you’d like to. You can also use the right thumbstick to control the camera, but you really have to hold the Gamepad in place for that, since the motion controlled camera is so prominent.

On the upside, the Gamepad provides a really useful mechanic that allows you to instantly jump to one of your teammates just by touching their icon on the touchscreen, which can be a lifesaver.

SplatoonAs for the online multiplayer, it’s really fun and really addicting, though it does have some questionable limitations. Currently, there are two game modes (with more promised to be released in free updates). The first mode is Turf War, in which the goal is to cover more of the stage in your color than the opposing team within a time limit. The other is Splat Zone, which is Splatoon’s version of king of the hill, and requires players to keep one or two designated areas under their team’s color. Each team has a counter that ticks downward as they control these areas, and victory is achieved either when a team’s timer reaches zero, or the map’s overall time runs out, with the team whose counter is closest to zero claiming victory.

Both modes are incredibly fun to play, but for some reason each one can currently only be played under certain circumstances. Turf Wars are relegated to regular battles, which are intended for more casual players, while Splat Zone is only available to ranked battles, which are more competitive as players can rise and fall through ranks (C- to A+) based on consecutive wins and losses. There are times when I wish I could be playing Turf War in ranked battles and Splat Zone in a regular battle, so it begs the question why the limitation is there to begin with.

Another downer is that each mode is only limited to two randomly selected levels at a time (with the two available stages in each mode changing every four hours). The game has some great map design that really takes advantage of the various gameplay mechanics, so there are no complaints with the levels themselves. But you kind of wish there could be more maps available at any given time, and maybe have the option for players to vote on which one they play next.

The game also features a local multiplayer mode, where two players try to pop the most balloons. It will be fun for some, but Splatoon was clearly made with online multiplayer in mind, so it’s tough to say how much lasting power the local play has.

Splatoon’s single player campaign combines the shooter gameplay with platforming stages reminiscent of the 3D Mario games. It provides a good adventure with some fun level design, though it’s never as creative or deep as a Mario title. It does include some incredible boss fights, and you may find yourself pushing further into the single player mode just to experience them.

SplatoonThe game has a very nice look to it. The character designs have a fun and nostalgic sense of 90s attitude, and the Inklings wouldn’t feel out of place as Sega Genesis characters. The world of Inkopolis also has a hipster/skatepark feel to it, which gives it a unique flair among Nintendo’s franchises. It also boasts some catchy music, which also sounds different from Nintendo’s norm with a more rock and roll influence.

Overall, Splatoon does have some drawbacks due to the awkward camera and some odd limitations that Nintendo can hopefully lift as they continue to update the game. But the core gameplay of Splatoon is something wholly original and uniquely fun, and it makes the game absorbing despite the limitations. Add on the fact that there always seem to be new weapons and gear to purchase – with the clothing options not only providing visual differences for your character, but also granting special gameplay bonuses as well, which can gain even more such bonuses as the player levels up – and Splatoon is a game that will have you continuously coming back for more in a similar vein to Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros.

Splatoon may not be perfect, but it is its own little miracle. If imagination in the shooter genre is long-since dead, then Splatoon has brought it back from the grave.

 

 

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