Splatoon Global Testfire Demo: Splatting Good Time


Nintendo had several public recent test sessions this past weekend for their upcoming shooter, Splatoon, which is due out May 29th. This was the public’s first real opportunity to try out Splatoon, and see if Nintendo had created another excellent party game in like Smash Bros. & Mario Kart while putting their own unique stamp on competitive shooters, a genre Nintendo isn’t really known for. Has Nintendo created a new blockbuster? Read on for my impressions.

First, I should point out that I am a pretty big Nintendo fan. I bought a Wii U launch day, and never regretted that purchase, even if it hasn’t gotten a ton of play time. While I do enjoy the occasional shooter, I am not in any way a big fan of multi-player competitive shooting. I played some 30 or so hours Destiny mixed between single & competitive play, but the last couple games of this type I was seriously into were Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare & Halo 3, both way back in 2007. It’s not that I don’t like shooters, but it’s rare one that really gets it’s hooks into me.

So, Splatoon seems like it would be right up my alley. It offers a unique take on the genre, along with bright and fun colors you get in a Nintendo game that just exude a sense of pure joy. And for the most part, it seems to have the potential, but definitely have some issues.

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Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of either the Gamepad or the motion controls, with the motion controls being the far bigger culprit. The default setting in Splatoon is aiming by moving around your Wii U Gamepad, which is just plain awkward. You can switch to more traditional controls on the Gamepad itself and while this drastically improves the experience, the Gamepad is just not well built for a shooter. That being said, a Nintendo trademark is offering a wide variety of control options, and I’d be willing to bet both the Pro Controller and Wii Remote & Nunchuck will be an option in the game’s final release, which will be great options. (Editor’s Note: The Pro Controller or Wii Remote [Pro] + Classic Controller [Pro] can only be used in 1v1 offline multiplayer.)

There is a surprising amount of depth in Splatoon, and it all comes from the squid gimmick. Not only does this allow you to move quickly, but it provides for some unique strategy and ways to hide and dodge you may not even think about until you get used to how Splatoon works. And while the primary mode, Turf War, is very enjoyable, I was also very ready to try something else after two separate play sessions. Nintendo has promised free maps & modes, but then it seems like it might be best to wait until some of these new maps & modes are actually out before purchasing.

People have complained about the lack of voice chat in Splatoon, but I really didn’t find it necessary, and it does make for a worry free experience. Forget kids; I’ve curbed my online play a lot the last few years because I’m tired of the constant prevalent online toxicity, and I’m a 36-year old guy. It would be nice if you had some basic form of communication, but again hardly necessary.

Some props should be given to Nintendo’s online structure, for once. In playing Splatoon, I never had trouble finding other players, nor were any players getting dropped. Granted, we’ll see if this remains true when the game is out during peak times and there is more than a couple modes & maps available, but Nintendo is finally starting to show some online competency in recent games like Mario Kart 8 & Smash Bros so I suspect Splatoon will do just fine in this area.

Ultimately, the Splatoon Global Testfire was just a small slice of the full game, so it’s hard to say this game will actually have long legs and be worth your time. Obviously, part of that is also very dependent on community, too. If the game doesn’t sell well, Nintendo can release as much free content as they want, it won’t matter. Despite issues I had the controls, my time with Splatoon was very fun and leaves me cautiously optimistic about the full release.

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