What is Splatoon?
Splatoon is a third person shooter, but not as you know it! Unlike most games in the genre, this ink-flinging colourful "shooter" actually has nothing to do with firing bullets - but instead, is all about covering every visible surface with your colour of ink. Playing as an "inkling", a character that's somewhere between a human child and a cute cartoon squid, you have a paint tank strapped to your back, and a spray gun in your hand, which you use to cover everything in your lovely ink.
How do you play Splatoon?
Splatoon features two main game modes - there's a single player story, and a fast-paced multiplayer mode.
In the single player, the game tells the story of an epic battle between the squids, and their mortal enemies - octopuses. Making use of one of the game's biggest twists - the ability to transform into a squid, and dive into any ink you've fired on the walls at the touch of a button, using it to get around quickly, and even scale vertical walls - the single player focuses almost as much on the platforming as it does on blasting the baddies with ink, as you're left to figure out how to reach your goal through inventive use of your ink. You can even use it to inflate sponges so you can walk across!
The online mode, meanwhile, pits two teams of four players against each other, across a variety of modes. As there's no subscription to use Nintendo's online services, all you need is an internet connection to drop in. With a range of modes on offer, from Turf War, which sees two teams simply trying to splat more of the map with their colour of ink than their opponents can manage, to more complex modes like Tower Control (climb a tower to capture it, and keep control of it as it begins to trundle towards the enemy's base) and Rain Maker (both teams compete to transport a powerful weapon, known as the Rain Maker into the enemy base), there's plenty of choice on offer. As you play, you'll gain experience, which you can spend on new weapons such as paint buckets, ink snipers, paint rollers and even the brilliantly named Splatling (a splatting gatling gun).
How easy is Splatoon to pick up and play?
As a Nintendo game, a lot of effort has gone into making Splatoon as easy to pick up and play as possible. With heavy reliance on the GamePad, this isn't actually a twin stick shooter, as you instead aim by tilting the GamePad by default - something that experienced shooter fans may find a bit confusing at first, but which certainly levels the playing field for novices. There is, however, the option to switch to controlling the camera/aiming with the right stick, in a more traditional set-up.
With the game's single player mode focussing more on puzzles and platforming, and the online centred around splat-tastic action, there's a great mix here to suit two very different styles of play - if you're competitive, you can head online, but if you prefer to take things more at your own pace, you can sink your teeth into the game's story.
While the game does have a split-screen mode, it only lets you play in an offline, one on one match - so if you want to play online, you'll have to go it alone, or team with friends on their own Wii Us.
For the benefit of younger players, it's also important to note that there's nothing in the way of voice chat on Splatoon, so there's no risk of little ones ending up in a battle with a foul mouthed player, making this is a much more family friendly online game than other shooters.
- It can be a bit tricky to find the game's story mode - in the game's main hub, you're looking for a sewer in the north east corner. Or, you can simply choose "Octo Valley" from the Wii U GamePad.
- Splatoon also supports amiibos. Scanning a Splatoon series amiibo on the GamePad will let you unlock trial modes for the main story quests, such as: complete the level with a roller, complete the level with a sniper rifle or complete it under a time trial as an unstoppable ink kraken!
While it may be a shooter, Splatoon is light on any sort of mature content. With nothing in the way of swearing, sex, nudity or real violence, this is one of the most family friendly shooters out there. While most of your time will be spent splatting your ink all over the walls and floors, you will also engage in ink-based firefights with other inklings - when defeated, characters simply disappear in a burst of ink, before promptly respawning somewhere else.