My Favourite Games Of 2015: Splatoon

It’s always been Nintendo’s modus operandi: zig when its competitors zag. It’s the ‘withering technology’ thing: create something new and bewildering by taking what already exists and filtering it through a new lens.

So from that perspective we shouldn’t necessarily be surprised by Splatoon; by what Splatoon is.

But how could you not be?

Splatoon’s ingenious core concept: take the base of what makes all shooters tick and subvert it. Unlike most shooters, in Splatoon shooting your opponent in the face is a subsidiary goal, one that pales in importance to the main target, spraying the ground you walk on in a glorious single shade of paint. Simple, easily understood. You win the game by shooting the environment, not by ‘killing’. It’s one of those ‘why didn’t I think of this’ ideas.

And it’s perfectly Nintendo on a number of levels. The first of which is this: Splatoon removes the violence from the inherently violent act of firing guns. Sure, you can shoot the opposing team, but you don’t kill them. They’re ‘splatted’. You’re not rupturing the internal organs of the opposing team; you are covering them with paint. Splatoon is probably the only ‘shooter’ I’ve comfortably played whilst my two-year-old son is around.

The way Splatoon’s concept feeds into the art, into the mechanics: that’s also very ‘Nintendo’ but it’s really just seamless design. You are a ‘Squid’ (or a kid). You fire ink. If the ink hits the floor you can use that ink to travel faster, to hide. But you can’t shoot if you’re zipping around as a Squid, you have to transform back to your slower self, which makes you vulnerable at the same time. It’s risk/reward and it’s brilliant, something that’s clearly been tweaked and balanced and thought about.

Splatoon is hardly a game that makes others look old-fashioned, but there is a sense that you’re playing something new – something hasn’t been done before. That’s not necessarily a feeling you’re getting with, say, Star Wars Battlefront or Halo 5: Guardians but the beautiful thing about Splatoon is that even though it subverts the shooter genre in interesting ways, it doesn’t devalue its rivals. In fact, I have a hard time thinking about Splatoon as a rival to other shooters – to the point where it’s simply a video game that exists in its own strange universe.

Splatoon was easily Nintendo’s best game of 2015. A game that thrives on the details: how it feels to fire weapons, how it feels to move, to glide through the maps. Splatoon was Nintendo’s best game of the year, but it was also Nintendo’s most Nintendo game of the year.

But at Splatoon’s core is the urge to subvert and it wouldn’t make sense if it didn’t subvert at least one Nintendo trope. I’d say it subverts many. Primarily it’s not a game about mascots. Nintendo could have easily made Splatoon ‘Mario Splat’. It could have easily starred Mario and the gang and no-one would have blinked an eyelid.

But no, Nintendo avoided that completely and did something completely ‘un-Nintendo’ – they made Splatoon cool. Splatoon is cool as fuck. When is the last time Nintendo made a ‘cool’ game? Have they ever made a cool video game?

The music, the character design, by god the fashion. I couldn’t possibly imagine that Nintendo would be capable of making a game that was maybe actually-probably-kinda-cool in this way. But they did. And they somehow managed to do it in the most Nintendo way possible. That might be Splatoon’s crowning achievement.

This week I'm going to be writing about my five favourite games of 2015 in no particular order!


Comments

    If I had to pick a game of the year, it would probably be Splatoon. It's fresh in more ways than one!

    Yeah I've come back to this game more than any other this year, and there is always more to do.

    Splatoon is my GOTY.

    I mean, I've only beaten roughly two games this year, so... Not much competition.

    However, it definitely still would be my GOTY.

    135 hours and it's still fresh (I had to join in, didn't I?) although I do need to get back to it...

    Single player was also great and the final boss was amazing.

    I don't really play shooters or online games but I absolutely love Splatoon.

    It's such a cool concept, excellently executed and just such a cohesive package.

      In a year of by-the-numbers games which are riddled withbugs, it's nice to see something which is innovative without sacrificing polish.

      Also, no double dipping season pass.

        That DLC strategy worked wonders. Yes, it may have been been a little light on content at launch, but it came quickly and kept me coming back!

          It also gave people time to get used to the core mechanics before throwing us all the extra items

    I've always loved Nintendo, wii u is the only console of theirs I've yet to buy and I will be doing so as soon as Zelda is out. Then I can gorge on the small but still considerable amount of awesome games it has. Can't wait.

      I'd get it now and get into it. If you are already committed, why not?

        Well I'm hoping that a) it'll come down in price sooner or later b) my brothers roommate gets sick of his and I can buy it cheap. Also I wouldn't have time atm between my xbone backlog ( i was hooked on destiny far too long ) and the NBA season being in full flight!
        Next year will be a good time for me. I miss the Nintendo magic. So many ppl don't know what they're missing out on...it's too kiddie and "gay" they say....I mean come on grow up guys.

      You may be missing out. Thing about most Nintendo games is that you play them for years. Sure, there's a few titles that you play once and master and then it's over like the amazing Super Mario 3D World. However, Mario Kart, Smash Bros, Splatoon, Mario Maker and the such are games that you just keep playing through the years. If you wait until the platform's end of cycle (usually marked by THE Zelda game), you will not be able to get much play out of those great games as their communities get ready to migrate to the next generation's games. Not to mention that most of them are competitive games where you'll be a noobie among years-long experts.

      Last edited 15/12/15 9:43 am

        Yah I know, I'm more into single player Nintendo stuff, even tho I'd happily play some a splatoon or Mario kart online if it was there. Give me Mario and Zelda and Bayonetta 2 and I'll be happy as a pig in shit either way

    One lasting memory of this game:

    My niece is under 10, wholly part of the Minecraft generation that new ventures like the kid squids of this game are aimed at, quickly picked up and began to love this game.

    She likes the roller, the customisation, and understood the people on her team and against her were actual real living people as well. Just quietly, this is but one reason I am glad there's no voice chat.

    But anyway, this game is a surprising revelation in regards to the stealth genre.

    She began to grasp the mechanics of hiding in the obscured environment, and taking out the opposition by stealth like we have been taught to do in other games for years.

    She saw an enemy kid/squid/animorph/etc coming and hid in the ink, swam to their flank, and took them out with the precision of an elite assassin.

    The conversation that followed:

    Me: you were hiding, and then you got them?

    Her: I surprised him.

    Me: http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_super/14/146991/3143844-3969512460-79715.jpg

    It's a true Nintendo game but has all sorts of things I'd never expect from them.
    Some levels even have what I'd call 'screamy music'. And it fits!

    Can anyone guys Marks games of 2015?
    I can guess 2 more that are definitely in the list.

      Bloodborne, MGSV, um... Rocket League, wanker hoverboard?

        upvote for wanker hoverboard (it's not even a hoverboard)

    Well, I'd say Nintendo is done well for themselves in the cool department, I mean, I struggle to think of any other game company that has such a massive appeal in clothes and apparel.

    I love splatoon so much. It's the only game I play daily and still enjoy. It helps that @lucifer9783 and I tend to build a squad, but we've only just moved into ranked recently. My favourite thing is diving into your ink and hearing that satisfying "bloop". I also like the shop keepers, but I kinda wish there was more to do in the plaza.

    Splatoon is definitely my favourite game of this year (could you have guessed??), and while I no longer play daily, I still go back to it regularly. Splatfests are still cool to me even if some of the themes are ridiculous, if only because the change in the atmosphere to the night time versions of the maps still look amazing.

    I don't normally buy DLC, so it's cool that all the Splatoon DLC has been free so far, but I'd definitely drop money if they ever decided to do a bigger update in the future. Can't imagine what it would be beyond weapons, clothes and maps. Maybe a new game mode? Whatever it is, I'm sure it'll be fresh!

    Splatoon is definitely my game of the year. Its just so much fun and is an all ages kind of game too. The splatfests are a lot of fun too. (When its not randomly disconnecting.)

    Speaking of splatfests... who else was Pro Pineapple yesterday? Pineapple Pizza FTW!

      Would have been, if I didn't sleep in so late >_>

      I missed splatfest???? Nooooo!!!

    Splatoon is my favourite game of all time and I'm 33. Oh god hiding in the ink! short rounds! playing one of two maps obsessively. They made a lot of counter-intuitive decisions in the game's design but a multiplayer shooter on the wii U was a gamble from the start. Before it came out it looked interesting but I thought it evaporate like hail on a sunny day (or titanfall) but I guess they knew they had something special. I find their self belief inspiring.

    By the way who has got into A grade? I've got as high as B+ but I find myself loosing fair fights (ones where you haven't surprised the other player) at that level. Plus they destroy the squid beacons with regularity. Is it ping? Any tips when it comes to basic aiming?

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