Disclaimer: Preview is based on a demo match played at E3 2014. The objective of the match was to cover as much of the map as possible in the color of your team. In total, I had about 7-10 minutes of playtime.
Many have screamed for the past several years for Nintendo to finally develop a major new first-party IP. At this year’s E3, Nintendo finally announced Splatoon, a unique-looking third-person paintball game. Unfortunately, a game does not automatically play well just because it looks interesting; in fact, although the premise sounds incredibly interesting and the mechanics themselves are very sound, the game does not end up being very fun in practice.
In short, each player was given a paintball gun and competing teams are tasked with coloring as much of the map as they can with the color of their team. This was where the first problem in the game laid: players were too busy shooting at the ground rather than shooting at each other. Competition comes from opposing players shooting one another in the majority of other shooters, creating a highly competitive environment filled with all sorts of bragging rights, but this idea was not present in Splatoon. Players barely ever shot one another, instead choosing to shoot at one spot most of the time: right below themselves.
Despite lacking a competitive feel, it did have rock-solid mechanics. Shooting could either be motion-controlled or controlled via dual analog like a typical shooter — either way worked splendidly. The demo build lacked a sensitivity option, though, so many found the camera to be moving too slowly. Traversing the map was also a breeze, allowing players to “swim” around the map, as long as their color was present. The mechanic was simple to learn and literally as easy as pressing a button. Players were also able to teleport to their teammates with a quick press of the GamePad touch screen.
Splatoon overall had very sound mechanics; shooting was responsive and swimming around the map was a very innovative concept. It was very unfortunate that the multiplayer mode available for demo at E3 was as uninteresting as it was, though, as I had hoped for a more robust experience. If the developers could incorporate several new fun multiplayer modes into the game and add a decent single-player campaign as well, the game could surely be a success. If the game fails to add anymore meaningful interactions in multiplayer, I fail to see how gamers would be kept continuously engaged.