Splatoon is a new kid-friendly squirt-gun adventure battle game from Nintendo. You play as an Inkling—a cross between a squid and a kid—who shoots ink through various kinds of weapons and has an impeccable fashion sense.
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Story & Themes
In single-player story mode, you learn that long ago there was a great war between the Inklings and Octarians. After the world’s sea level rose, the two communities had to fight for territory, because (naturally) sea creatures can’t swim. The Inklings ended up living above ground while the Octarians lived below. However, when the great zapfish (the source of the Inkling’s electricity) goes missing, one elderly Inkling called Captain Cuttlefish discovers a secret Octarian plot to wipe out the Inklings. You must help the Captain infiltrate the underground Octo Valley to rescue the great zapfish.
Meanwhile, back on the surface level, the other Inklings haven’t really noticed that anything is going wrong. They go about their daily lives, shopping for fresh new clothes and competing in friendly ink battles. This is where you go to access the game’s other play modes, which include Turf War, Ranked Battle, Amiibo Challenges, and Battle Dojo.
Splatoon saves automatically, but that doesn't mean it's always a good time to quit. If you turn off your Wii U in the middle of a level in single-player story mode, you'll have to replay the whole level. Also, since Turf Wars are played with real people online, turning off the console in the middle of a match can feel like letting your teammates down. Luckily, these online matches are only three minutes long, so it's pretty easy to play in short increments.
Splatoon has something for gamers at every skill level. Players can level up in the game even if they lose every match, and online matches tend to be pretty good at matching up players at similar skill levels. Ranked Battle is only accessible to players with a level 10 or higher, and tends to be more frantic and intense.
Violence Attacking other characters is a significant part of the gameplay, but there is no blood or gore. If you are attacked, your Inkling will pop or fade away and reappear at the beginning of the area.
Scary Imagery Some of the enemies in the single-player campaign might make young players nervous, but this is more because of their behavior than their physical design. For instance, Flooders are robots which rain down ink in huge quantities, and if they spot you walking by they'll close in on you. Sometimes, there is no escape, and it can be pretty nerve-wracking.
Strong Language The main plaza of the game is occupied by other real-world players’ Inklings, and sometimes they have visible drawings or messages that you can read. Nintendo does a really good job of filtering out all profanity and inappropriateness, but it's always possible that something might slip through their filters.
Consumerism Splatoon uses Nintendo's toys-to-life amiibo technology. There are currently three amiibo compatible with Splatoon, and they cost about $20 each or $60 for all three. One of these amiibo is only available if purchased in a three pack with the other two.
Players go online for Turf War and Ranked Battle. No voice or text chat is available. Players can also post short messages or drawings to the Splatoon community. Drawings are sometimes posted on the walls of levels to look like graffiti or billboards. Nintendo does a good job at policing these posts to ensure that they're all family-friendly, but since it's the internet it's always possible that some bad imagery will sneak through.
- When you're picking clothes for your character, do you prefer good skills or good looks? Why?
- Do you have any strategies when you start a Turf War or Ranked Battle? What are they?
- Does it bother you that there's no voice chat? Why or why not?