Developer: Nintendo EPD
Format: Nintendo Switch
Released: July 21, 2017
Copy supplied by publisher
Although they could be doing more to bolster the Switch’s library, it’s hard to deny that Nintendo has been doing an admirable job with the console’s first-party release schedule thus far. Since its launch in March, Nintendo has delivered at least one major release each month and the trend looks to be continuing for the rest of the year, with major titles like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Super Mario Odyssey still to come. July’s big Switch release is Splatoon 2, the sequel to the surprise 2015 Wii U hit. Splatoon 2 is probably Nintendo’s most online-focused Switch title yet — in fact, the company released a companion mobile app to coincide with the game’s release — but is it a deep enough experience to maintain an active community in the months ahead or even become the viable eSport title Nintendo clearly wants it to be?
Right off the bat, I should mention that I am coming into Splatoon 2 totally fresh. I missed out on the first game completely, but it was a title I admired enviously from afar, not having owned a Wii U myself. As such, I can’t really speak to the issue of Splatoon 2 not offering enough “new” content over its predecessor, but I am aware of this being a concern among some fans of the first game. That being said, this is a new game and not an updated Switch port like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a game that I think is still worth purchasing even if you owned the Wii U edition so if you are worried about not getting enough bang — sorry, splat — for your buck, I’d say it’s best to look at it as more of a refinement of what the first game already did so well.
One thing that becomes clear almost immediately upon booting up Splatoon 2 for the first time is that Nintendo has gone all-in on the colorful, absurd universe they’ve created. This is a game that oozes style — and if you didn’t like that pun, you should probably pass on Splatoon altogether as the game tosses them around at every octortunity (sorry) — and it all starts with Inkopolis Square, the title’s hub world. Here you’ll access everything the game has to offer, including campaign missions, online multiplayer, the new cooperative Salmon Run mode, as well as handful of shops where you can purchase new weapons and clothing items. You’ll also be introduced to new “hosts” Pearl and Marina, who are somehow both endearing and horrifying all at once. The pair act as commentators for all the events that are happening around Inkopolis, which means that they will let you know whenever the rotating battle stages switch over (an update that you will soon grow tired of since there’s no way to skip it). Overall though, it’s hard not to be charmed by the world Nintendo has created and the many little details they’ve thrown in to help give the game its unique personality. This is a game where even waiting for a new match to start is entertaining, as you can manipulate the menu music using your controller.