Only two years after Nintendo's kid-friendly online shooter debuted, we already have a sequel. However, does Splatoon 2 bring enough inktastic mayhem to the Switch? Fill your tank with ink and let's find out.
Before I get to the review, I should mention that I've never played the original Splatoon. I know, that may be surprising to some but now that I've played the sequel; I can easily see that I've been missing out on a heck of a lot of fun! After taking the brief tutorial and jumping in an online match, I was impressed right off the bat at how intuitive the controls are. You basically use one shoulder button to attack and the other to transform into a squid so you can charge your ink and swim around which makes you go faster. Aiming is accomplished by tilting the console or controller (depending on how you're playing). Although shooter purists may be perplexed by this at first, I actually found it to be much more accessible than using the right stick to aim. Speaking of which, you can use the right stick to rotate the default position of the camera and tap a face button to centre it again. A few other buttons allow you to jump, throw bombs, and perform special moves.
Not only are the controls intuitive, the gameplay dynamic is accessible as well. Whether you're playing competitively, cooperatively, or by yourself; knowing what to do within each mode is always obvious. Even tricky bosses in the Salmon Run mode make it visually clear how to take them out. Overall, Splatoon's chaotic gameplay is an absolute blast to play and the intuitive controls and accessible nature of the gameplay (no matter which way you play) only amplifies the fun factor and allows gamers of all skill levels to enjoy the craziness. That being said, if you're an online shooter fanatic then this accessible take on the genre may be a little off-putting.
Aside from the wholly enjoyable gameplay, Splatoon 2's presentation took me back to a time when having fun in a video game was the most important aspect. The colourful world, charming characters, upbeat music, lively animation, flashy interface, and goofy gibberish voices are reminiscent of '90s arcade games and cartoons. It's such a breath of fresh air to play a game that oozes as much fun as Splatoon 2 does. Merely walking around the lobby observing people's silly drawings makes for a good time.
Splatoon 2 features a substantial amount of ways to play. If you'd prefer to play solo then there's a whole single player campaign in Octo Canyon where you complete stages in order to rescue Zapfish. The stages are rather lengthy and there are a lot of them to complete, too. Once you're willing to be a bit more social, you can take the action to a comprehensive competitive online mode that features private, regular (Turf War), ranked, and league battles. Turf War battles involve two teams combating each other and trying to cover the most amount of ground with their team's colour. It's a ton of fun but there are more core modes that unlock after playing for a while such as Tower Control, Splat Zones, and Rainmaker that do a great job of mixing up the competitive fun.
There is also a cooperative mode known as Salmon Run where you and your teammates try to take out tough bosses and return orbs to a receptacle. This can be played either online or locally and it's great fun but it also brings about my biggest negative point for Splatoon 2: you need to have multiple Switch consoles and copies of the game in order to play local multiplayer. This might be fine for people who know a few folks with Switches who also love Splatoon but if you don't (like me) and you just want to play a couple matches with a friend on the couch then you're out of luck. It's especially disappointing considering Nintendo have excelled at providing fun local multiplayer games over the years. Besides, I can't imagine many households have more than one Switch console.
To go along with this awesome variety of modes, there is a rather satisfying character growth dynamic as well. Each mode has its own system to show you how much you've mastered it whether it's through levelling up, beating stages, earning collectibles, or getting raises and bonuses at a freelance salmon hunting job. Additionally, you'll earn cash that you can spend on headgear, clothes, and shoes which alter your appearance as well as provide boosts. Obviously, the coolest thing you can buy are more weapons such as ones that allow you to blast away with dual pistols, roll over foes with a giant paint roller, or pick off opponents via a charged sniper shot. It's very rewarding to unlock and experiment with a vast array of weaponry and find the piece that fits your play style best.
Splatoon 2 is bursting at the seams with enjoyable ink-splattering fun both in its gameplay and presentation. With loads of ways to play and tons of rewarding goodies to discover, Splatoon 2 is clearly the next must-have Switch game.
- + Intuitive controls and accessible gameplay that's an absolute blast to play
- + Awesome '90s-style presentation
- + Incredible amount of content to enjoy
- - Playing local multiplayer requires multiple consoles and copies of the game
- - Gameplay may be a bit too elementary for hardcore shooter enthusiasts