In a surprising turn of events, Splatoon, Nintendo’s brand new IP for the Wii U, is one of my most anticipated games of 2015. Why? I’d be lying if it wasn’t largely in part of the game’s amazing aesthetic, but the idea of a shooter based around paint guns instead of real guns is really appealing to this cute, peace-loving blogger. Though I was pretty much committed to picking up Splatoon day one, when Nintendo announced they’d be hosting a Global Testfire, I was more than happy to jump in on so I could give Splatoon‘s online multiplayer a spin.
The Testfire was available for three one hour periods this past weekend, allowing players from around the world to play in online matches with a selection of four different weapons and two different maps. While Nintendo gave very little notice before the Testfire commenced, I was able to play during the first session, which started at 1 pm Saturday Australia time. I’m pretty helpless when it comes to shooting games, both first and third person… but even though I only won the very last game I played, I still managed to have a blast!
The Testfire started off by allowing you to pick your character’s gender, skin color, and eye color, something that was shown off in the Splatoon Nintendo Direct that I was really happy to see included in the game. Your character’s hair color, though, is actually dependant on what color team you’re on during a match!
Unfortunately, the Testfire made a slightly jarring impression in the tutorial portion before the online portion by forcing you to use gyro controls. Ick! I know some people are fine using the gyroscope, but it drives me nuts, and I couldn’t help but be slightly afraid that the whole game was going to be dependant on gyro controls (which only handled up and down camera movement, while the right analog stick was for left and right). Luckily, players had the option to switch to normal analog controls after the tutorial, which I promptly did.
After that, it was just a matter of selecting a weapon, getting randomly assigned an online group, and letting the paint fly! I started off with the splat roller because I liked the idea of being able to flatten players on the opposing team just by running them over. No aiming required! It took one or two rounds with each weapon for me to get the hang of how they were used, but I never really did get used to using the secondary weapons. I honestly spent the hour just admiring the game and trying to cover as much ground with paint as possible!
As for the matches themselves, the only mode available was 4-on-4 Turf War, where the winner is determined by which team covers the most of the stage in their color paint. Again, with my lack of skill in this area of gaming, I spent the vast majority of my time just getting the hang of how the weapons worked and exploring the levels. It was still a lot of fun, though, so I’m definitely not complaining!
I was worried that transitioning from a squid to a humanoid would be difficult to execute on the fly, but I actually got used to that fairly quickly – with a single button press you can go from running and shooting to speedily swimming through ink or hiding from the opposite team in ink as a squid. You also recharge ink while in squid form, which I never really found necessary with the splattershot and the splat charger, but I had to do relatively frequently with the splat roller.
After the Testfire was over, I chatted with my Nichiest Gaming Podcast co-host and pal shidoshi about aiming in the game. I chalked it up to my poor shooting prowess, but shidoshi was adamant that it didn’t feel completely “right” to her, either, and since she recently admitted to playing and enjoying a Call of Duty game, I’ll defer to her judgement. Hopefully it’s something myself and others can adapt to, or at least not find too bothersome in the full game.
There was one aspect of the multiplayer that did stand out as a little odd to me, though it’s a very minor thing. When tallying the teams’ paint coverage at the end of a match, the game shows your team as the “good guys” and the opposing team as the “bad guys.” In a game that is not in any way violent, it strikes me as odd to characterize the teams in this way, but I suppose they were trying to go for a schoolyard play fight type of feel… I don’t see why this couldn’t be changed to just show the team colors, though, to get rid of the “good” vs “evil” binary.
While I don’t think I’m going to be tearing up the Splatoon leaderboards anytime soon, it was a lot of fun to be able to try the game during the Global Testfire. I’ve got my inkling girl Amiibo preordered and a gorgeous Splatoon wallpaper on my desktop, so I think it’s safe to say I’m all set for the game’s release! Now excuse me, I have to Google inkling girl fanart…