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Game Reviewed: Splatoon
Platform: Wii U
Category: Shooter (kind of)
ESRB Rating: E10
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Some wonderful, wonderful person over at Nintendo said, “Hey, you think we can make a kid-friendly online shooter?” And every other wonderful, wonderful person over at Nintendo went right ahead and did that.
In Splatoon, you play as an inkling: a kind of squid/human creature. You can choose whether to be a boy or girl, and customize your look from there. Essentially, it’s a shooter, but your goal isn’t to kill your enemies; all your weapons shoot paint-like ink, and your goal is to cover the arena with more of your color than the opposing team.
So while Splatoon plays much like an online third-person shooter, the goal and tone are very different. Rather than trying to kill people, you’re simply coating the map in ink. Instead of shooting bullets and throwing explosives, your guns shoot ink and grenades explode in the same. Online multiplayer even lacks a chat feature, to make sure kids can’t end up getting cussed out by some random kid on the other team.
So is it fun? Is it appropriate? Let’s find out.
What Parents Need to Know
You do use guns, but they shoot ink instead of bullets. You can “splat” enemies, at which point their squid form floats back to their side of the map and they respawn. There’s also a single-player campaign in which you fight against the “Octarians,” and it’s unclear whether they recover from your ink-splatting the same way.
The game is perfectly clean, and Nintendo even completely removed the chance for you to hear bad language over chat.
One of the scrolls you can find in the single-player campaign briefly references evolution.
A Child’s Perspective: Unfortunately all the children I have access to live hours away and don’t own a WiiU, but Splatoon was made to be playable by children (though it’s a blast for adults too), and kids have been enjoying it a lot since its release.
Splatoon is an absolute blast. I play online shooters fairly often, and I’m loving it. My wife plays video games plenty, but doesn’t generally enjoy online shooters, and she’s loving it. It’s just an absurd amount of fun. The concept of painting the environment instead of killing your enemies makes it play differently from any other shooter out there, while still feeling similar to the established shooter traditions. It’s also completely adorable, and your ability to customize your inkling with different clothing that gives different effects in battle is a lot of fun.
And to top it off, it’s a Nintendo game, so of course it’s safe for your kids. There hasn’t been a game this enjoyable and simultaneously kid-friendly since… well, Smash Bros. So the WiiU is becoming an excellent family system, to the surprise of absolutely no one.
I definitely recommend this one. You can play it, your kids can play it, and everyone will have a great time with it.