The squid kids are back and ready to roll on the Nintendo Switch. How does the Switch handle such a game? Let’s talk.
Inkoplis is back! And it’s prettier than the first go around and a bit more populated than before. The city consists of a larges series of shops, which offer up player customization and upgrades to clothing and weaponry, which add abilities and advantages, such as speed and power. For example, if you upgrade a certain pair of shoes, you get a certain amount of perks with them. As any Call of Duty fan will tell you, customization and upgrades to looks/weapons keep the fun going online long after the main game is finished. To earn more customizations, you have to play online matches. You earn money that earns you the right to purchase clothes and such. It’s the circle of life for gameplay and one that actually is quite accessible quickly on Splatoon 2.
Now, if that wasn’t enough, and it shouldn’t be because we haven’t discussed the actual gameplay yet, you get a large amount of modes to make all those customized decisions strategic and interesting as your experience goes forth. Here’s what you’re looking at in terms of modes.
Single-player — Marie, a mysterious and yet popular squid, wants you as an undercover agent to take on the Octarians and rescue the poor zapfish from their brutal confines. You’ll go through a series of large maps with multiple levels that lead up to terribly creative bosses. For example, the first boss is a horrified series of unhappy loaves of bread that are attached to a multi-tiered oven with a tentacle at the top. There’s nothing more terrifying than watching poor loaves of bread unhappily trying to destroy you. Anyway, that is just one type of boss you go up against and they get better and better as you progress through the offline campaign.
Beyond bosses, the real treat of the single-player mode is how the levels are creatively designed. The first few levels of the game are simplistic in structure, mostly focused on fighting Octarians and going back/forth through a series of boxes, but then the levels slowly become more complicated, as you get things like timed jumps on well-placed hooks attached to flying balloon objects, as well as large showers of enemies that ink and force you to time your movements on narrow paths. As the difficulty of the maps goes up, the more creative the map design becomes. It’s a breathtaking treat and probably one of the cooler parts of the game that is more than likely going to get overlooked, so enjoy the scenery in this mode.
Anyway, the length of time in the single-player mode is impressive, as it will take about an hour or so for each entire level, including the main boss, to be completed.
Turf War – Good stuff and the main reason to pick this title up for the Switch. You can get lost in the Turf Wars MP experience for hours, as you try to make the most ink on maps. The balance between shooting enemies and taking care of business with your land ink war is pretty significant and takes some real skill. The previously discussed customization you have on your characters will heavily come into play during this mode, so don’t take that lightly. On top of this, the multi-tiered levels help to add a depth factor to strategy in Turf War. There’s a lot to enjoy in this mode and certainly, again, a huge reason why people want Splatoon 2.
Salmon Run – It sounds innocent, it even sounds like you’re going to race someone, but this is something a bit more sinister, a bit more…ZOMBIES. Kidding about the zombies, but it does have that Call of Duty survival mode flavor to it. You stand and fight against mutated salmon to see how long you survive in multiple waves/shifts with the ability to play the mode with other gamers. It’s an interesting take on a popular concept and one that works well within the Splatoon family.
Sadly, Salmon Run is limited with availability. While I have never been a huge fan of limitation on modes, especially fun ones, I understand that is the trend nowadays. For example, Destiny rotates in and out its mayhem mode, which is undoubtedly the best mode in the game. The rotation is disruptive and disappointing when it is gone, but it’s a trend that Destiny has and it’s the same trend that prevents Salmon Run from being a permanent fixture. Why is the limitation? Well, Nintendo only knows that, but one can speculate that the limitation will certainly will keep Splatoon 2’s lifespan kicking until the next Splatoon comes out. Much like the desert folk waiting for water in Mad Max Fury Road, if you give your fans a taste of greatness, you can keep them around if you limit the experience.
Other modes include the league action and ranked modes, and ranked is very intriguing stuff if you enjoy the thrill of ranked competition, but the above modes are the main body of work that will keep people around. I would like to add that there is a heavy amount of private matchmaking and hosting, which is always fun when you have some close friends playing the game.
Overall, there is a lot to like about what you get with Splatoon 2’s gameplay. It works well and there is enough to do and enough depth/customization to keep it going until Nintendo adds some more content. That said, Nintendo does need to reconsider keeping Salmon Run on permanently instead of limiting it. It’s going to be a huge fan favorite.
On the presentation side of the fence, Splatoon 2 is a visual upgrade from its Wii U counterpart. The textures are much better than the last generation game, as well as the environments seem far more expansive. One particular presentation point to note is the lighting is superb. While most reviewers probably won’t give a hoot about lighting effects, this reviewer believes that is a strong suit and a good indicator of how well a game’s presentation was thought out in the development process. The shimmering sun off a thick layer of ink that falls in the right direction when it comes to sun positioning in the level speaks volumes on the intricate details that Nintendo’s developers have given this title. Good lighting also enhances and brings out the finer details, such as the smalls speckles of glitter inside the ink. All of this adds up to a visually pleasing experience.
As for the environments in the game, while I do wish the initial city level of the game was a bit bigger, and I understand the need to keep younger gamers contained within a restricted environment so they can concentrate on gaming choices rather than explore a vast city. In terms of environments within the gameplay, the level design on most of the levels, single-player or otherwise, is impressive. There are multi-tiered levels that go way up high and that have been designed meticulously for the gamer to explore and find a way through. The visual personality of the levels is on par with Splatoon’s graphical style, as it’s a cross of simplicity and beautiful messiness.
The presentation of Splatoon 2 is an upgrade from its Wii U days, but it doesn’t go so far as to separate itself completely from last generation. It improves where it needs to improve and avoids overdoing it. I’m sure that Nintendo wants kids playing both games still, so there is not reason to enormously outshine the last title.
So, at the end of the day, should you add this game to your Nintendo Switch? Uh, yeah. It’s a fun game that has some depth right out of the gate. In addition, and this is the perspective of a parent, if your kids have never played online battles before, then this is a game to start them on. The innocence of the game is there, as is the Nintendo assurance that your kids aren’t going to rage quit. That’s always a good thing to avoid, especially when your console is basically a high-end tablet (I mean that with respect, Nintendo fans). Anyway, drop the dough and grab this game. It’s quality.