New Nintendo IPs are few and far between, but this year Nintendo revealed a few. The highlight being an online multiplayer shooter called Splatoon.
"Online multiplayer shooter" probably conjures up images people being shot in the face and stabbed in the neck - which isn't exactly Nintendo's style. If Nintendo were to do an online shooter you'd expect it to be unlike any other on the market, and Splatoon is exactly that.
The object isn't to kill, it's to make a mess – covering the game's map with ink from your inky gun.
Two teams of players will shoot their brightly coloured ink across the map, all over the floors and walls with the object to coat everything and anything, and paint over the opponent's progress. Shooting opponents with the ink will send them back to their base – but games are won by the team with the most ink covering the map rather than the amount of "kills".
Instantly this sets Splatoon apart in classic Nintendo style, but there's more, and it's barmy. Players can move through their own ink with pace and can even transform into a squid to sail through it like water and reach far-parts of the map quicker.
Moving through enemy ink slows you down however, which keeps the focus on spraying ink to open up paths into enemy territory, rather than hunting and shooting other players.
Apart from the vivid, vibrant look, what sells Splatoon so well is how cohesive and complete a design idea it appears to be. Just hearing or reading about you recognise how it would play, despite not necessarily seeing it being played before.
Splatoon represents something lacking on Wii U – a new multiplayer experience. The original Wii succeeded for Nintendo in part because it had Wii Sports to help sell what made the console unique, and while the comparison only goes so far, that game was new and was hugely popular in multiplayer.
There are clear differences of course, but people's fond memories of OG Wii stem from multiplayer – which is why most of the consoles major releases so far (New Super Mario Bros U, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros) all have a key multiplayer element.
Great game for sure, but games Wii owners have already experienced in some way or another. Splatoon looks fresher, and if it meets its potential it could be a major title for the Wii U when it's released next year.
What those who played it said:
"We're a little spoiled by the control schemes of games and developers that live in the genre. I think at the state we played the game, the overall mechanic is very fun, which is arguably the most important part, and the controls are – hopefully – just a matter of making tweaks and adjustments until they feel accurate. I walked away from the game excited at the prospect of playing the game with groups of friends, and I am hopeful the characters will gain more personality as we get to spend more time with the game." – Kyle Hilliard, Game Informer
"It's all terrific... well, fun. Splatoon is bright and cheery, and even though you can shoot rival team members, or "die" from their ink shots, it's never more than an annoyance -- you'll respawn and be straight into the ink-spraying anarchy. If the wider game expands on the excellent map we played, Nintendo could well have their best new party game since Smash Bros on its hands." – Matt Kamen, Wired.co.uk