Splatting New Life into a Stale Genre

***You can read my review for Splatoon 2 here***

Many people that are familiar with me know that I'm not a huge fan of online shooters. Most of them are first person affairs, and I have always felt that the genre has been pretty stale for a very long time. While it was an early meme that FPS had turned into a genre of retread war shooters that all felt like the same game with slight variations, the integration of them with the world of online multiplayer matches made them feel even more samey in my eyes. Compounding this problem was the reality that developers had begun shifting there efforts with the games from having a strong, single player campaign which also had online features to simplified and shortened single player campaigns that more or less acted as a prolonged tutorial to acquaint their players with the controls and mechanics that were fully fleshed out in the online multiplayer.

This new breed of online multiplayer centric shooters brought a new breed of gamer into the home console market that weren't as concerned with a robust story and clever mission design as they were with being able to chat with friends and randoms online while they strategized their way through capture the flag battles and mini bullet fights with the opposing team. While there is nothing wrong with this, it just wasn't my thing. Not only that, but the focus on beginning to integrate online multiplayer into what could have been amazing and unique experiences in the shooter category had started to lessen those experiences for me. After having just accepted the fact that the genre had moved on to a place I didn't care to go, I just started to wholesale dismiss the genre. I ignored many games that could have potentially been fun experiences, if I had only given them the chance to grab me, because I just expected all of them to be the same recycled games with updated graphics and slight tweaks to the gameplay.

Most of this occurred around 2006-2011, and so by the time I had owned my xbox360 for a little while, I slowly started to realize that most of the huge releases from triple A studios had become vehicles for DLC and online multiplayer. I bought Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 for my wife to play online with her brother and father, and even hopped on a couple of times myself to try it out. I could have fun in 15-20 minutes bursts on occasion, but the experience didn't seem worth the price of admission or time investment to me when there were so many other games that I could play instead. This type of marketing practice is actually what led me to start seeking out games to play that were more to my liking in the Xbox Live Arcade marketplace, where they were just ramping up their support of indie games. So, I ended up having my interest and love of Indies sparked by all of this, so it was a pretty good situation for me overall.

Fast forward a few years and Nintendo had announced a new IP for the already struggling Wii U console. One that would try to capitalize on this bustling market of online multiplayer gamers that weren't getting their fix on a Nintendo console from third party developers. This was obviously the first Splatoon game. Seeing as how this was Nintendo we were talking about, they went with a way of making an online shooter family friendly by turning it into a glorified game of paintball with the main objective being to cover as much of your own territory as possible with your team's ink color, and focused the action on some creatively designed, and brightly colored kids that could turn into squids to recharge their ink containers.
This game supplied a small boost to the Wii U's flagging sales, but it wasn't enough to convince me to pick up the console. I had been a lifelong Nintendo fan, but I was disappointed in the few first party games that I'd played on the console, and an innovative take on what I considered a boring genre wasn't worth the risk.

Enter the Switch, and three little girls in my household that were very excited about owning a Splatoon game of their own after playing the first entry on demo units and at a friend's house.
Nintendo was gracious enough to provide us with a demo of sorts in the form of the Testfire weekend. I downloaded it on the console and braced myself for 15 minutes of fun before getting bored and going back to BotW. That's not what happened, though. What happened, is that I played the whole hour (minus server drops that were expected due to the nature of the Testfire itself), and wanted more! The game was delightful, and full of that familiar quirky Nintendo charm they seem to bring to all of their franchises. I wasn't surprised to find that the game had a certain quirky charm, but shifting the focus of the game from killing your opponents (which can still be done by splatting your opponents) to covering as much turf as possible via a similar to Graffiti from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater online mode, but on steroids. In addition, you could devise different strategies to suit your style of play and weapon to be more than just covering the map with neon ink.
I ended up spending my entire weekend trying to plan around those times, as well as reminding my wife and kids so that they had the opportunity to get on, as well.

Come back later today for my full review of Splatoon 2 itself. Remember to like and follow me on Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest updates about my upcoming reviews and other content. I'd appreciate a share, as well. In the meantime, check out my Nintendo Switch Holiday Buyer's Guide, and catch up on what should be on your Switch and under the tree as we enter the final weeks!

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