Splatoon is a kid now, is a squid now at #16 in our Game of the Year 2015 list.
In the early part of 2015, I was very skeptical of the way Nintendo was set up to handle the content release of Splatoon. It seemed like the game was launching incomplete, with the majority of its online maps, gameplay modes and customizable clothing/gear set to drip slowly as the year went on. As it turns out, Nintendo fans are forgiving of this type of eventual filling up of the game’s content as long as it was free.
Splatoon is a mostly multiplayer third-person shooter game done only in the way Nintendo can create one; with a unique gameplay system. Two teams of kid squids (who are also squid kids) face off in arenas that are waiting to be painted a certain color. The team that covers most of the map’s ground with their color ink wins, however, there is more to just painting the ground that makes it strategic. Players replenish ink supplies by swimming in their own color ink as a squid, both moving fast and reloading their ammo.
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Because of this, there is a whole added dimension to how people play Splatoon. You can play guns blazing, shooting enemy players with your ink guns, rollers and other ink-based equipment to take them out and prevent them from painting the map an opposing color. You can also focus on map coverage, instead using your equipment for nobler, strategic means of traversal and overall wins. Finally, you can act like a ninja and sneak into the enemy’s spawn and completely ruin their means of travel by painting over their early traveling access points.
With Splatoon, Nintendo has reinvented what it means to play an online third-person shooter in the year 2015. It is a game that released without voice chat, with Nintendo afraid of the toxic behavior known to come out in your Call of Duty’s and Battlefield’s seeping through. Despite a May release, map content was still being released for free as of the last week of December 2015. Despite the at-odds approach, Nintendo has established what could very well be a new pillar of their gaming businesses, especially in this new Toy DLC era that has spawned amiibo and one of their best examples of online gaming.
These two functions will be important for Nintendo as they head towards their NX-based future, but for 2015 let’s give them credit for creating one of the best Games of the Year 2015 with Splatoon.