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Splatoon 2
by SquareMEal
Reviewed on Mon, 08/07/2017 - 17:06pm
SquareMEal Total Reviews: 5
Reviewer Rating
Splatoon 2 is great fun, but sticks too close to the original.
Nintendo has a reputation for sticking to their same old series. It's understood when a new Nintendo console or handheld launches that it will have a Mario, a Zelda, some sort of Pokemon game, and so on. When Nintendo released Splatoon for the ill fated Wii U back in May of 2015, it was a breath of fresh air. Not only was it a major new game from Nintendo that didn't use their recognizable characters, but it was also an online multiplayer shooter, a genre Nintendo had previously shied away from. Two years later, Nintendo has followed up the surprise hit with a direct sequel for the more popular Switch. For those not in the know, Splatoon is a cartoony online shooter featuring humanoid squid kids. These kids participate in the popular sport of turf wars, where they battle for territorial control by marking their territory with colored ink.

Considering how much the first Splatoon signaled a change at Nintendo, it's not difficult to expect a lot from the sequel, and in some ways, it delivers. As Nintendo hadn't made a game like this before, there were a few kinks that fans were hoping would be ironed out in the sequel, such as the strict map rotation system, ambiguous ranking, too few modes, and unbalanced weapons. What Nintendo delivered was half-steps. Weapons and abilities have been retooled with a greater focus on team work, and moving away from Rambo builds. Ranking has also been improved slightly with different ranks for different game modes, though these modes are all the same as the first game. The map rotation system is the same, but with an even longer announcement each time the maps change and that still can't be skipped.

Nintendo has also made a much requested voice chat system, but it's about as backwards a setup as possible. Instead of simply plugging a headset into the Switch and building a party within the console menu, like is possible with the XBox One, PS4, and PC, they REQUIRE use of their dedicated mobile application to do voice chat and it's only for use with friends. This creates a ridiculous tangle of cables, as the current marketed solution is to have the phone and Switch connected to an audio merger, which is connected to the headset. That's not convenient in the slightest. Even worse, there's no general party chat with the app, as it sorts players into rooms based on their team, and if the phone goes to sleep or the app is minimized to check a message or make a phone call, the player is booted from the party, requiring the set up to start over. Sadly, all this hassle just makes it not worth using the app for voice chat. That said, the app does have other neat features that might appeal to some players, such as keeping track of stats and buying gear that can be picked up in game at any time. Full disclosure, though, I didn't even bother with the mobile app. The sub-par party system was not worth the trouble of setting up and the other features did not appeal to me.

I was never really a fan of the versus multiplayer offerings of the first game. It felt too stressful and frustrating for me, even in the casual Turf War mode. As that was the real meat and potatoes of the game, Splatoon one gave me few reasons to keep playing outside of the occasional Splatfest (essentially themed Turf Wars pitting two similar concepts against each other, such as the recent Ketchup versus Mayo battle, for bragging rights and materials to alter gear abilities). I would have much preferred something more focused on cooperation than competition. Much to my delight, Splatoon 2 offers this in the new Salmon Run challenge. This is essentially a cooperative horde mode where up to four players must survive waves of monstrous salmon creatures that are migrating through the area, all the while killing the boss salmon for their eggs. It's a fun concept and can be really challenging (but fair), plus it offers rewards for playing, such as new gear for regular multiplayer and tickets to use at the food truck, which sells food that can be used to give temporary perks in online battles, such as experience boosts. The mode also keeps things from getting too stale with random hazards, such as rising tides and dense fog. This mode demands cooperation and I greatly enjoyed it. Sadly, Salmon Run isn't without its faults. The weapons are on a rotation, so weapons can't be picked by anyone. I pretty much had to cross my fingers in hopes that I would be given a weapon that I was good with and that the other players knew which weapons were effective against which bosses. But the biggest grievance I have with the mode is that I can't always play it. Nintendo, for some reason, decided that the only new addition to the series can only be playable during a specific schedule of their choosing, meaning if your free time to play doesn't mesh with when Nintendo says you can play, you either have to get some friends together to play locally (which removes the rewards) or suffer without. It's almost as backwards as the voice chat system and I hope that they eventually unlock it, because it's the only mode I want to go back to.

Outside of the multiplayer, there's a somewhat short single player campaign that's really good at acquainting players with the mechanics of the game. It improves on the single player of the first game by bettering the pacing and incorporating multiple weapon types into the level design. Sadly, the story is almost an exact rehash of the original. The Great Zapfish has gone missing and you must battle your way through the world of the Ocatrians in order to rescue all the zapfish and defeat DJ Octavio, the leader of the Octarian army. This time, though, there were hints of something greater going on, with Callie, one of the squid idols from the first game, going missing and pre-release story snippets building up to the start of Splatoon 2. Ultimately, though, it amounted to nothing more than a few lines of dialog in the final boss fight, which was also underwhelming compared to the original game. At least there's more incentive to replay levels this time. There's hidden materials to upgrade your single player weapons, food truck tickets, scrolls containing lore of the Splatoon world, and completing all the levels and bosses with a given weapon will give access to buy the weapon for use in multiplayer, though these are simple reskins of existing weapons.

For all its faults, Splatoon 2 is still a lot of fun. It keeps the fun style of the first game but adds a bit of needed spit and polish. The stuff that's new is great fun and, like the first game, future updates will be free. I'm glad the game looks better, sounds better, plays better, introduces more characters and a fantastic new game mode, and still kept the social hub aspect, despite the lack of Miiverse on the Switch. I'd say I got more play time out of this game in just two weeks than I did with the original in it's first couple of months. It's just a bit of a let down that, for all that it does right, it's held back by deliberate limitations like the lack of local splitscreen multiplayer, a lazy story, limiting play time of new modes, and a terrible voice chat/party system. If you never played the original, or you did and you enjoyed it, I would recommend giving this game a shot, especially if you're really into online shooters. If you played the original and didn't like it, there's not much different about this one to change your mind.
Positive points
Negative points
  • Improved graphics and style options
  • Better pacing in single player
  • Still able to post in other player's hubs via custom drawings
  • Salmon Run is a great addition,
  • Multiplayer is nearly identical to the first game
  • The story is shallow and a let down
  • Salmon Run is only available at select times
  • The voice chat system creates more problems than it solves,
Not Rated
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About this Item
Publisher: Nintendo
Item Link:   Go there
Genre: Online shooter
Release Date: July 21, 2017
0 Community Ratings