Two and a half years into the Wii U‘s lifespan, the best games have been entries in tried-and-true franchises. Super Mario 3D World. Mario Kart 8. Super Smash Bros. And The Legend of Zelda is by far the biggest game still on the horizon.
Splatoon is the rare anomaly: a first-party Nintendo game that doesn’t star Mario and isn’t peppered with franchise fan service – and also thankfully isn’t an awkward tech demo for the GamePad (although the default, motion-centric control scheme is pretty rough). It’s a totally new game for the company that takes a familiar, popular genre and gives it a strong, properly Nintendo-esque twist.
Truly, Splatoon‘s distinctive elements don’t feel like a thin coat of paint atop an existing formula. However, while the game definitely has a unique style and flair, the appeal of this multiplayer paint-blaster chips away much faster than expected.
Splatoon starts with the third-person, squad-based shooter framework, but strips out the violence and machismo to leave a good-natured experience – or the messiest game of paintball you’ve ever seen. You’re a cartoonish human/squid creature, and in the eight-player online skirmishes, your job is to cover every bit of the ground with your team’s ink colour.