A short while ago, Nintendo gave Wii U owners a chance to sample their upcoming exclusive, online shooter Splatoon. For those that missed the free taste, they are opening the demo up again for one hour on Saturday the 23rd of May at 6PM EDT, ahead of the games launch next week on Friday the 29th allowing people another chance to see what all the buzz is about.
Splatoon marks Nintendo’s first foray into the online shooter market, but it does a lot more than add bright cartoony graphics to the genre. Okay yes, it does add bright cartoony graphics because that’s Nintendo’s thing, but it does more than that.
The game revolves around shape shifting creatures called ‘Inklings’. These can either take the form of fashionable kids with tentacles for hair or squishy little squid like beings that can swim through colored ink. Colored ink is central to the game. All of the weapons that the kids brandish shoot, paint and splash their teams color, and once its daubed all over the place, the squid forms can swim quickly through that ink, even travelling up walls. While the game has been shown off at a few trade shows, the freely available Splatoon Testfire demo has offered the first chance for your average Wii U owner to play the game.
I was fortunate enough to be able to get online for all three hours that the Testfire was available and found the game to be as fun and fresh as early impressions promised. Much more surprising though for a test like this, especially coming from a company that isn’t known for the quality of their online netcode, was how stable and lag free the game was.
This was meant to be a stress test, and the only evidence I saw of the servers breaking a sweat was the occasional delay between shooting ink at the floor and when I’d see it displayed on screen. While fending off ‘bad guy’ inklings, I never once saw signs of lag and given the number of Japanese names I saw I’m pretty confident that I wasn’t just playing with my neighbors down the road.
Testfire lets people get a taste of the ‘Turf War’ mode on two maps. This mode sees battling teams of inklings competing to paint more of the floor in their color ink than the enemy team in fast paced three minute rounds, using a variety of ink themed weapons.
Due to the success of the first three sessions, Nintendo is offering people one last chance to try the game out before it hits stores. When it does the game will also offer a single player mode in which you fight against evil Octopi in addition to Turf War, and Nintendo’s plan is to slowly roll out new modes, levels, gear and weapons in the following weeks and months for no additional fee.
Fans of additional fees and cute little plastic statues will be pleased however to hear that Nintendo are also going to be launching three amiibos to go along with the game. The boy and girl inkling amiibos will be available separately, while a three pack will include both of these along with an inkling in its fast and stealthy squid form. ‘Stealthy’ hopefully won’t describe the launch of these particular amiibos, but given how quickly they’ve been selling through pre-orders online they may well be tricky to track down. Each amiibo unlocks challenge modes in the single player which can be completed for exclusive in game gear.
I for one hope to have all three amiibos sat next to me on the coffee table when I finally get a chance to get back online for more ink slinging fun come the end of the month. Splatoon will retail for $59.99 and will be available in stores and on the Wii U eShop.