Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Nintendo Wii U - Splatoon

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon

While we were given the opportunity to review a Nintendo game that we were comfortable and familiar with (See our Nintendo Wii U Yoshi's Woolly World review here), we were also given the opportunity to review something from Nintendo that is suitable for kids, super fun with a new concept, but might take us out of our comfort zone a bit - Nintendo Wii U Splatoon.

Nintendo Splatoon (RRP £34.99, bundles available, pegi 7, exclusive to Wii U) is a 3D online multiple-player (1 to 8 players) shooting game. Like other online games, it also offer offline play (1 player vs environment/ storyline/ campaign, and 1 to 1 player vs player battle).

Player plays as an inkling from Inkopolis, who can transform from a kid to a squid. Their weapon is paint, which is used for covering the walls and floor for winning a Turf War game, allowing their squid form to glide up the walls and through fences, shooting at enemies and collecting currency/ money (to shop for weapons and gears).

Something worth noting, especially for parents like us who are worried about letting their children play online: Splatoon does not have a chatting (voice nor text) feature. Players can leave a note on their profile, which appears as a chat bubble in Inkopolis (see picture below), but that's all. So you don't have to worry about online bullying or privacy issues. Thumbs up from us!

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon

At the start of the game, players are given a tutorial to get familiar with their controls. The main player plays with the Wii U Gamepad, which also shows the Inkopolis or battle map (see below), with each area explained upon arrival.

Players are then free to roam around Inkopolis, join offline/ online battles or play the story mode, and shop for weapon and gears (although it require players to be at least level 4 to buy something).

This is where our comfort zone is challenged. I was never a PvP (Player vs Player) person, so battling against another real, unknown player or team (kid or no kid!), even with colourful paint in a cute environment, is frightening! Abby seems to have taken it from me and no matter how I encouraged her, she refused to join any battles. We can play against each other, 1 vs 1, but we haven't got a Wii U Pro Controller, which is required for the second player to play, so that's a no as well *sad face*.

In my defense, I took the review opportunity because the trailer looked awesome, although I had no idea it was online PvP focused! I honestly thought that we can fight against each other offline, and we would have no problem shooting at each other's characters (even at my own children's characters), which would make the game crazy fun and hilarious for us.

However, not all is lost as we can still play the story mode, meaning that we can still practice and gear up offline as a single player, and who knows, we might be confident enough to finally join others online!

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon
Top: Landing through the sewer
Bottom: Landing at one of the scene to rescue a Zapfish
Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon

To start the story/ campaign mode, which is about fighting against Octarians who stole the Great Zapfish that powers the city, player need to find the Sewer Guy (location is explained to players upon arrival), who is actually Captain Cuttlefish. He will give players mission to combat against the Octarians. Our first mission was to rescue 3 Zapfish from 3 different maps.

To fight, simply shoot paint at enemies (boxes to collect hidden money and occasional weapons/ armor), and avoid their paint (you can't even walk in their paint without getting hurt). You can also cover walls with paint so that you can go up in squid form. Squid form also allow you to replenish paint.

The game is not just about shooting at enemies though. Strategies are required the further you go in the game, especially against enemies like an Octarian with a shield (you can only hit them when they turn around) or an Octarian fish that cleans your paint off the wall (we couldn't stop laughing at it!).

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon

Although there is a lot of jumping from one building to another involved, there are arrows on screen and a map on the Gamepad to make sure that you won't be lost.

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon
All of us absolutely love this game! Although Clay is too young to understand what he needs to do, he really love shooting paint everywhere and explore. Abby just wanted the game to herself, and she enjoyed playing in the campaign mode, even though she struggled at odd times and needed someone to help her. 

I'm guessing that battle mode would be easier for Abby to play as the main target is to cover the area with as much paint as possible for your team. You can take on a defence position, hiding in a corner and shoot passerby, instead of going out and fight, and you'll still be contributing to the result (see more on the official website under Turf Wars). But it can be scary if an opponent is out to shoot at people and corner you of course!

I must say that it's not easy to watch someone else play, because the camera goes everywhere (maneuver by tilting the Gamepad and right joystick)! I don't think you can run sideways either while keeping your face forward, so there is a lot of turning going on and it made me feel dizzy. It's easier if you are the player of course. 

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon

Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon
News announcing Splatfest results
Nintendo Wii U, Virtual World game for kids, Splatoon

While testing the game, we caught one of the Splatfest that's being held every so often! Players are asked to vote which side they are on (in this instance, whether they prefer eating or sleeping) during each Splatfest, and they will be given a temporary T-shirt to show their loyalty. Even the Inkopolis has been transformed for it. 

They can then join battles to go against the other team and help their own team to win points. Even if your team has lost, you'll still get a reward for the effort (for Abby it was a voting effort hehe)!

I really like what Nintendo is doing for the Splatoon online community!

Overall I think this is a really fun game, and definitely a nice change to the Nintendo games we are used to. It's cute and colourful as always, but way more action packed.

We love the paint shooting concept, and although shooting at other players is possible, it wasn't the main purpose of the battles (you are to focus on covering the area with paint), unlike other online shooting games, so it at least doesn't encourage violence against other players. 

I also like the idea of not having a chat system in the game. Although it's a team battle, players are there to have fun and not be bossed about, or get told that they aren't playing their game right (I've seen enough of those players, tut tut). Just enjoy and play it your way!

We'd recommend the game, but to make the most of the game, it'll be ideal if you aren't scared of playing against other players, or if you'd like to play offline with someone else, make sure that you have a Wii U Pro Controller. However, if you don't mind to just play in the story mode, and still have the choice of going to battle later on, then go ahead because this game really is fun!