Review: Splatoon for Wii U (Post-Release)
Let’s take another look at this.
When I reviewed Splatoon, I knew that some things were likely going to be different between the pre-release review version I received and the post-release retail version that would have everyone and their squids playing (and tried to mention that wherever possible). Now that the final version is out, I just want to take a quick look back at some of what I said before and how things are now.
One thing I mentioned in brief that hasn’t really changed (naturally) is the Octo Valley single-player mode. I’ve been called on not saying enough about it before, so here’s more: I feel I might have understated how I feel about it. This mode is very good, and contains a lot of unique enemies and features, some of which I wish were in the multiplayer segments. The bosses are clever, and it’s fun overall in a sort of Super Mario Sunshine meets Super Mario Galaxy sort of way, but I just honestly feel like it pales in comparison to the multiplayer — especially now, post-release.
I know I’m in the minority on this one, and to be perfectly honest, I’m actually kind of shocked by it — a mix like that sounds right up my alley, and I’m the type who is usually content playing the single-player mode in a game and easily forgetting there’s a multiplayer. Most of my time on Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., even Mario Party is spent in single player. Sure, they’re even better with friends, I’ll never question that, but I’m more often than not content to play solo in lieu of interacting with others.
But here, I honestly don’t get the same degree out of joy going solo. I enjoy it well enough when there’s no multiplayer to be had, but if there’s a match on, you’ll have to follow my inky footprints all the way to the central tower if you want to find me. Just don’t take it as a knock against the solo campaign — I’m in a clear minority here, and I freely admit that.
Now, as to the multiplayer… hmm, how do I phrase this without gushing? I believe I’ll just give a solemn, dignified “so good.”
While the variety is still a little sparse in a sense, it has opened up a bit more with new content since the game was released. If my count is correct, three new stages and five new weapons, including my sentimental favorite, the N-Zap 85. And more are on the way throughout the summer at no extra charge, keeping things fresh and interesting.
Of course, I still love the roller. In the right hands, it’s great. I had one match where I and one person on the other team were the only rollers, and we were basically engaged in a bout of mutually-assured destruction as we constantly kept returning to the same point and taking each other out at the same time. It was stupid fun, and I enjoyed that silliness so much that I don’t even remember who won the match.
One issue I had pre-release that I correctly assumed wouldn’t be a problem in the final is setting up matches. What took almost painfully long periods before is almost instantaneous now. As a result of this, that “hump” I mentioned in terms of trying to level up your weapons and gear goes by much, much faster — so much as to almost be a non-issue. There’s still a bit of a hump there, but it feels much smaller now.
Unfortunately, the matchmaking is still a bit spotty. Even with more players in the mix, teams can still end up lopsided with players of a much higher level ending up on the same team while the weaklings crowd together. Some say the levels don’t matter, but between allowing a wider variety of options to purchase in the shop as well as the leveling of those weapons and gear through playing, I’m inclined to disagree.
Sure, the levels don’t affect you so much, but it sort of marks the difference between Tony Stark’s box-of-scraps suit and the Iron Man “House Party” at the end of the third movie. Yeah, Tony is more or less on the same level between them, but which one do you want to deal with? Precisely.
I’m not sure what else to add at this point, and a lot of you have probably already played it for yourselves if you’re going to at all (I wanted to get this up sooner, but other things came up). Splatoon is a blast, and it’s only really bad if you end up getting slaughtered repeatedly by a superior fighting force. Even getting annihilated (or doing the annihilating) once is still fun, but as long as the game keeps things mixed up and you don’t wind up in such a rut, it is simply sublime.
Ultimately, I recommend coming for the multiplayer and staying for the campaign. And when I say that, I can assure you that I’m not squidding around.
A review copy was provided by Nintendo of Canada.