Splatoon 2 Review

gaming :
Shaan Joshi

Reviewed by:
On July 18, 2017
Last modified:July 18, 2017


Nintendo has delivered yet again, refining and polishing the groundwork they laid out two years ago. Simply put, Splatoon 2 is a must-have for any Switch owner.

Splatoon 2 Review

As odd as this may sound, I keep having to remind myself that the original Splatoon came out only two years ago, as I often find myself thinking it originally released long before May 2015. Of course, this misunderstanding can be chalked up to the less-than-stellar Wii U lifecycle. Like many, I enjoyed Splatoon during its opening months, but I often found myself focusing on other games (or more accurately, other consoles), and before long, I had gone months without so much as looking at my Wii U, and by extension, Splatoon.

And frankly, that’s a real shame. Even with a lack of proper online profiles and voice chat, Nintendo created something special when they rolled out their unique take on third-person shooters, and until Blizzard released Overwatch last year, I can’t think of many games that kept me amused and addicted as Splatoon managed to. It came as no surprise when Nintendo announced a follow-up for the Nintendo Switch, and aside from Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2 was easily my most anticipated title going into 2017.

Jumping in head first, many might be tempted to head online to duke it out with other Inklings, but similar to how I tackle most other shooters, I opted to check out Splatoon 2’s campaign mode. Structurally, Nintendo has decided to keep things mostly the same with their sophomore outing. You’re once again recruited to explore Octo Valley, retrieving Zapfish (the Inklings source of electrical power) all while trying to solve the disappearance of both the Great Zapfish, and Callie, one of the Squid Sisters from the original game.

If you came in expecting a richly woven narrative, you clearly haven’t been paying attention to Nintendo games for the last three decades. Still, what Splatoon 2 might lack in story, it makes up for it in style. The original’s weird mish-mash of punk and skater culture makes a grand return, though everything looks a little more crisp and fluid running on the Switch. Wacky hairstyles, oddly satisfying music, and a plethora of clothing options are all present and accounted for, and as you might expect, Nintendo Treehouse’s localization has a few Easter eggs and enough jokes to keep you chuckling and smiling.

Splatoon 2’s core gameplay remains largely the same this time around, and those who spent some time with the original game will have no trouble finding their bearings. For the uninitiated, you take control of a kid/squid hybrid, (yeah, don’t ask) who can use colored ink to attack your opponents. By laying down ink from a variety of weapons, you’re able to swim through ink pools (as a squid), which allow you to zip around maps and stages with ease, as well as reload your precious ink supply.

On the other hand, moving through the enemy’s ink (these are differentiated by color) is detrimental to your health, and you’re essentially slowed to a standstill when you’re in it. Not to mention it also drains your health. There are plenty of weapons and gadgets at your disposal, too, from more traditional firearm types (akin to rifles and submachine guns) to paint rollers and brushes, which can be used to cover paint surfaces more efficiently.

While the minute-to-minute action has remained largely the same, it’s the changes to the game’s many modes that really stand out, along with a handful of new features. Take the single-player mode; each level will still have you zipping across disjointed platforms in order to collect a Zapfish, but Nintendo has addressed the complaints levied against the original’s rather short and generic stages. This time around, there are a lot of new obstacles, environmental objects, and gadgets to take advantage of; speeding conveyor belts shoot you up in the air or across maps, on-rail segments let you grind across stages, and inflatable bouncy platforms let you leap over enemies as you rain down fire from above.

The same can be said of the game’s suite of online multiplayer modes. The flagship Turf War is front and center, tasking two teams of four with covering as much of a map with their own colored ink within three minutes. A more cynical person might complain that this mode is largely a rehash of the groundwork that was laid two years ago, but Nintendo has added enough maps, and more importantly, weapons and gadgets to liven things up. The Splat Dualies in particular (dual-wielding, rapid-fire pistols) stand out from the pack, allowing players to pull off quick dodges in succession, which can be great when both retreating or outmaneuvering an enemy.

For those who prefer a more competitive online scene, Nintendo has revamped each of their ranked modes in some way, shape or form. Splat Zones (Splatoon’s take on King of the Hill) now has a new user interface and HUD, which makes it easier to see how much of a particular zone has been captured. Rainmaker, which tasks players with capturing and transporting a special blaster weapon (aptly named the Rainmaker) to the opposing team’s base, has retooled how the Rainmaker fires off ink. Better yet, it’s easier than ever to squad up with friends to battle together online, and while it won’t launch until July 21, Nintendo’s Online App promises a fast way to group up and voice chat with friends.

Rounding out the online portion is Splatoon 2’s take on wave-based combat. Dubbed Salmon Run, up to four players can team up on an offshore oil rig. Broken up into three waves, you’re tasked with working with your squadmates to not only stave off minor minions from overwhelming you, but you must also contend with large, boss-like ‘Salmonids,’ each with their own attack patterns, as well as distinct weaknesses. Dispatching these larger-than-life foes nets you Golden Eggs, which must be carried (one at a time) and deposited in the center of a map, before the timer for each wave runs out.

During my time with the game, I was quite excited to test out Salmon Run for myself, but my play time was cut short due to Splatoon 2’s oddly-structured rotation of modes. Unlike most multiplayer shooters, which allow you to choose maps and modes as you see fit, Nintendo has instead opted for a rotation of maps for its online and ranked modes. While this works quite well in practice (sacrificing freedom and choice in order to avoid fragmenting playerbases), Salmon Mode was also locked out from regular play, and was only accessible during set times throughout the week. It’s by no means a deal breaker, but for those with a noticeable lack of free time, it could mean that scheduling some online sessions with friends might require more planning than you might have bargained for.

These odd design decisions extend to the game’s control system, which admittedly took some time to get used to. During my first few hours with Splatoon 2, I was sorely missing the Wii U Gamepad. Despite its bulkiness, the information displayed on the touch screen (along with the touch controls) worked well in the heat of the moment. While Nintendo has managed to relegate most of these functions onto traditional buttons, for whatever reason, you are still unable to change up weapons or alter motion controls/controller sensitives in game (these can only be done before joining an online lobby, or prior to entering a single-player level). I came to really enjoy the motion controls after a dozen or so hours (I highly recommend either a Pro Controller or a split Joy Con setup), but it’s a bit baffling as to why players aren’t allowed to fiddle with these settings in-game.

Even with its odd design decisions, I have no doubt that Splatoon 2 will win newcomers and veterans over. There are still a few things I’m weary of (mainly, the soon-to-be-released Online App), but Nintendo has managed to fine tune and polish the formula that won us over all those two years ago. And don’t let the “shooter” label dismay you; while there’s a definite focus on traditional gunplay, Splatoon 2’s unique take on ‘painting’ is better than ever, and it should be sampled by every Switch owner out there.

And if I happen to see you online, don’t forget: stay fresh!

This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game, which was provided to us for review.

Splatoon 2 Review

Nintendo has delivered yet again, refining and polishing the groundwork they laid out two years ago. Simply put, Splatoon 2 is a must-have for any Switch owner.