Splatoon is being launched two weeks from now but Nintendo gave us an early taste of what’s to come by releasing a demo during the weekend of May 8th. This demo event, called Global Testfire, functions like an online server as it could be accessed only during the following times: May 8th 11:00pm to 12:00am, May 9th 7:00am to 8:00am and finally from 3:00pm to 4:00pm under EST. This teaser itself offered region-free 4v4 turf war battles online allowing players to compete on a global scale, adding to the messy matches that Splatoon will be known for.
During our first session, we anticipated for the server to crash from the sudden influx of players globally, however the game successfully booted after the second try. The game ran smoothly with bright vivid colors and catchy nonsensical music.
During the start of the demo we had the chance to customize our Splatoon avatar in gender, skin tone, and finally the desired eye color; minor aesthetics like these made the Splatoon character unique and personal. Hopefully there will be even more features that allow our characters to truly express themselves more from what was seen during this brief exposure; considering every trailer seen so far the chances are pretty high.
Following customization was a tutorial, which was vital as most people have not had the chance to play the demo at previous conventions, so we got an idea of the Splatoon mechanics in its entirety. For the most part the controls and camera play as smoothly as it would in an ideal third person shooter. One particularly frustrating aspect of the control settings was the gyro sensitive controller. Although it was capable of firing shots accurately due to its innate sensitivity, it was rather difficult to fire shots in a much more precise manner which is something worth taking into consideration as Splatoon matches are often very fast paced and tense.
However, the second time around I realized that you can actually alter the sensitivity of the gyro controls to your liking, in this way the aiming becomes smoother, enabling you to fire more precise shots. In fact you can even turn off the gyro controls entirely, although three minutes in, it became clear that the gyro controls are actually fundamental in playing Splatoon, as it took considerable effort to control the cameras without it. In the absence of the gyro controls, the player is tasked with three factors, directing the camera, moving your avatar and then trying to aim and shoot. Once we completed a rather extensive and well informing tutorial stage, we were immediately drawn into the main portion of the demo.The demo’s main menu allowed the player to choose from four different weapons, a brand new element that was not previously present in other Splatoon demos–the only playable weapon before this point was the Splattershot with the time bomb as its grenade instead of the cherry bomb. The other three weapons newly introduced in this demo were the Splattershot Jr, Splat Roller, and the Splat Charger; each weapon specialized at a specific style of combat.
The first match played was with the Splattershot that played in the exact same manner as the previous demos. This weapon seem to be well rounded with no particular specialization combat. The most appealing of the weapons was the Splat Roller. For players just starting out and/or aren’t great with gyro controls, this may be the weapon for you. It is great for close combat and therefore does not need a lot of aim. Throughout matches, the Splat Roller was widely used and oftentimes annoying to deal with. This paint roller one hit kills attack with the ability to cover a considerable portion of the map. Note: if you’re in squid form and the Splat Roller is nearby, consider yourself squished!
To recap, it was the most simplistic since it did not require aiming or much practice. One key weakness is the lack of range and its slow attack speed. While it was easy to rack up kills using a Splat Roller; a Splattershot with good range can neutralize opponents and a charged Splat Charger would be all it takes knock enemy Inklings down. Next on the list was the Splattershot Jr. which played similar to Splattershot but it seems to fires more rapidly but with weaker shots, with a shield as its sub weapon that gave limited invulnerability, handy though short lived. Last but not least the Splat Charger focused heavily on range, making it a sniper based weapon. Its main selling point was its long range as any well placed charged shot at the right spot could send out opponents with little to no warning.
During these online matches, teams began on their respective side of the map. Since there were no online communications, it was difficult to form a concrete plan. Players entered the fray on their own terms hoping to take down the competition and dominate the map. During the first few matches the real problem was learning how to master the gyro control in order to make those crucially precise shots.
One particularly useful ability was being able to jump towards our teammates on the map upon death, a very much welcomed feature than just returning back to the spawn point. In this regard the mechanism provides a strong combat potential as it prevents one team from dominating and making the matches one sided or having opponents hog the spawn point excessively. From the limited time we had to play the demo, we were able to explore two maps, Walleye Warehouse and Saltspray Rig. These stages were different in size and had different features which allowed players to get a feel for how weapon types might affect gameplay depending on environment. For example, Saltspray Rig was a bigger stage and had moving platforms but of course, the determining factor of a match were the players and whatever weapon they choose for the match.
Lastly the Squid Research Lab has thought of everything. Each time you wait for a match to begin, you have a choice of playing a minigame called Squid Jump. The arcade style game followed a pixelated art style which paid homage to the NES days. It centered on a squid jumping to higher platforms which was a cute addition as it kept us occupied while the game searches for potential teammates and opponents.
Thanks to the Global Testfire, there is now a clearer view on the general impression that the Spolatoon will give us. The online matches are simple, intense, and always exciting. One thing that players must keep in mind is that they must get used to the controls albeit will take some time. It is also important to note that getting acquainted with the weapons will provide a much better experience when playing the game. Though the first few minutes of Splatroon can be overwhelming, the shooting mechanics will become more routine. Splatoon is promising in its gameplay and should be recommended to players who are both hardcore and casual alike.
By: Rinaldy Gomez, Robert Andujar
Want to read more on Splatoon? Here are the basics, their amiibo, and here’s where you can buy them: Amazon, Best Buy. Splatoon releases on May 29, 2015 and is the anticipated colorful shooter by Nintendo.