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August 14, 2017 | by  | in Games |
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Splatoon 2

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

Platform: Nintendo Switch

 

I’ve complained a lot about Nintendo in the past, to the point where some of you are probably getting sick of it. Nintendo’s weird inclination to do the exact opposite of what is expected of a gaming company turns the simplest of tasks into a frustrating mess, making one wonder why you should even bother putting up with their crap. Then you actually plays a Nintendo game for a while, and realise — Nintendo still know how to make their games fun.

Splatoon, one of the Big N’s few online multiplayer-focused franchises, is no exception on both fronts. The original game, while not at all bad, had the misfortune of being on the Wii U; though, by all accounts, it ended up being one of the few reasons to get one. Its sequel is likely going to be everyone’s first opportunity to try multiplayer shooting, Nintendo-style. While it is much better poised to succeed thanks to the Switch’s high sales (except, it seems, here in NZ), there are several technical issues which may well put players off, new and experienced alike.

The core gameplay is essentially what you would expect a multiplayer shooter by Nintendo to be like: colourful, wacky, and very kid-friendly. Rather than focusing on eliminating other players, as an Inkling your objective is to cover the map in as much coloured ink as possible, changing between humanoid and squid forms to get around and using a great variety of guns, buckets, and brushes to mark your team’s territory. Matches are short, usually around five minutes, but a ton of bonkers action is packed into them, making for an addictive experience. With ranked mode and special “league battles” available, there are plenty of opportunities to keep coming back and testing your skills.

The game’s campaign isn’t really anything to write home about, though it does translate the main mechanics into a single player experience relatively well, complete with some really good boss battles. In addition, a co-op mode called Salmon Run is available, and it may well be the best part of the entire Splatoon 2 experience; taking down waves of crazy Salmonids and filling your quota of golden eggs for Grizzco is just as addictive as a standard match, maybe even more so.

While the actual game might be a solid foundation, the infrastructure supporting it is so poorly designed it could only come from a company that simply doesn’t get how online multiplayer should be done. Splatoon 2 uses peer-to-peer connections for matchmaking, making lag a real possibility if you have a less-than-decent internet connection, not to mention the potential for cheating. No online game should still be using peer-to-peer in 2017, yet Nintendo insists. Multiplayer matchups are also subject to scheduling, where only certain maps and modes are available for a given amount of time — criminally, this includes Salmon Run, which can disappear for hours at a time.

But that’s nothing compared to setting up a lobby to play with friends, accomplished using the new Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. Yes, a separate app on a separate device is needed for functionality that is built into literally every other console! It gets downright laughable if you want to use voice chat; you need a splitter (sold separately) that connects to your phone, the Switch, and your headset. Fucking really?! Yet, despite all of this, Nintendo wants Splatoon 2 to become an e-sport. Believe me, with this kind of set-up, that won’t happen in a million years.

If you can look past all of the arbitrary crap thrown your way, Splatoon 2 is still a unique shooter experience that is just so much dang fun. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or a squid, because things will get messy.

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