When Nintendo dove into the sea that is Splatoon, it was a rather steep departure from anything they’ve really have done before. In many ways It was different from anything anyone did before. But now that it has become a definitive IP for Nintendo, does Splatoon 2 improve on the series foundation, or does it just smell like dried squid?
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 21, 2017
This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.
Splatoon 2 is one of the most visually impressive games on the Switch to date. The main ammo in the game is brightly colored ink that conforms to the environment when fired. The ink seems to be dynamic in nature, bringing out a sort of visual umami to the eyes.
Character designs are quite refreshing, and seemingly up to date with cultural styles and norms in the west. This has always struck me as something unique to Splatoon, as it ties in its Japanese design principles marvelously with the Western culture norms in this series.
The sheer amount of gear and customization available to players has always been something that stood out in the original, and does not disappoint in the sequel. And now with the Nintendo Online App, there are more ways to pick up better gear, faster.
Those without smart phone access should’t worry, as while it’s nice to have the Nintendo Online App for this purpose it’s not really needed for it. But more on that aspect when we talk about gameplay.
Level design for both Single and Multiplayer maps is extremely enjoyable visually. Single player is the standout when it comes to this design, and its nice to see Nintendo took more care to flesh out the single player aspect of the game.
It would have been nice if they put as much time into the Raid Mode (Salmon Run) as they did with Single and Multiplayer maps, as there is only one raid mode map and its not available anytime you want to play. Instead, it’s arbitrarily locked to certain times throughout the day, which is a real misstep.
Splatoon 2 really improves on its general gameplay and controls, even allowing players to go with or without the motion controls.
In my opinion, I don’t think Splatoon should have ever used motion controls, and I know that was what held many players back from the original. They also have fixed some of the sensitivity issues the previous game had, making for a less squirrel-y experience.
Overall, the maps are also balanced better and in general for Turf War. However, when it comes to using those same maps for other game modes, it starts to get a little dicey because the objectives are fundamentally different.
The fact that you have to rank up to a B-rank with random strangers to get into league play is ridiculous and frustrating.
Splatoon 2 does not do major things wrong, by all accounts it does major thing amazing well. With that said it does do a lot of little things wrong that are just irritating.
Salmon Run, as mentioned above, is arbitrarily locked during certain times of the day, ranked matches are locked till players hit level 10, league play is locked till you hit B-rank, and the most annoying thing is using the Nintendo App for voice chat.
I want to say this is a case of Nintendo learning from some mistakes, but not others. It’s these things that really hold the game back from being a perfect 10. One thing the game does really well is its combination of weapons that are available to the player and just how different they all generally work.
There have been many new additions to the roster, and they are almost all near perfect hits when it comes to feel and combat potential. They are all amazingly well balanced, and in the right hands, can be deadly in almost every situation.
Splatoon 2, like its predecessor has a varied and lively soundtrack that helps flesh out the world. It has been a staple of the series, and has shown to evolve between the two releases, changing but keeping a certain iconic sound.
Sound design in general is well done, nailing the splashing sounds in battle as well as the hits on your opponents. This gives a sort of unique feedback to the game that other multiplayer games can’t touch.
When we start to look into the story and world of Splatoon 2, you kinda have to go back to the original, which did a great job fleshing out the world via secret pages scattered around the single player levels. To sum it up, you are playing in post apocalyptic world where the sea flooded the earth, killing everything on the land, causing the evolution of humanoid squid people.
While it seems pretty far from the mark when it comes to Nintendo, we also have to remember that so is this style of game in general.
Splatoon 2, however, uses this same mechanic to flesh out parts of the world, it just does not do it as well as the first Splatoon. That is not to say that they are bad in any way, but they just don’t have the impact they did when the series was first introduced.
Outside of these info pages, the game is handled much in the same way as a Mario story: “X happened now you need to do Y which requires you to go through a series of levels and boss fights to complete.”
Splatoon 2 is a great game and a worthy successor to the original.
Fixing major issues, and bringing better controls will definitely put some more legs on the game with the general public, but tiny irritations from bad design choices on Nintendo’s network side will push away the hardcore crowd a little sooner then Nintendo may actually want. Overall, this is a great game, and worthy of your money.
Splatoon 2 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a review copy purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.
The Verdict: 8.5
- Beautiful character and level design.
- Great balance in weapons.
- Stable online multiplayer.
- Advances the series in a positive way.
- Locking game modes arbitrarily.
- Voice Chat through the Nintendo App is a pain in the ass.