We're on the home stretch now to the release of Splatoon, which was confirmed to be out on 29th May on the last Nintendo Direct. The colorful third person shooter has drawn plenty of attention in the industry and Reggie Fils-Aime even went so far as to say that this will do for shooters what Mario Kart did for racing. Quite a bold claim to make, only time will tell if it truly is as game changing as it's being painted.
In its most recent issue, EDGE Magazine did a lengthy article on Nintendo's first serious foray into a shooter IP and it unsurprisingly had many interesting tidbits of information. At the very beginning of development, simple blocks were used as the player characters and the basics of the ink mechanics were added. After a strong start, however, Tsubasa Sakaguchi and Yusuke Amano - the game's co-directors - didn't really know where to take the concept. They thought of putting a squid character in the game, but needed a human character to hold the guns and they believed that a squid human wouldn't sell. It got bad enough to the point that Miyamoto himself scolded the duo in 2013, saying:
I don't understand. What do you want to do? There's no appeal to this game.
The project was brought back from the brink when the two had an epiphany on January 6th, 2014 where they thought up the idea of switching between a human and squid. This led to a cascade of ideas that built on top of the ink concept, such as being able to swim quickly in one's own ink color and taking damage or slowing down in enemy ink. Amano-san said that he's a fan of shooters and that he wanted to craft a game that would be easily accessible, as many of his friends would grow frustrated when he'd play shooters with them.
Supporters of voice chat in online games, you may want to look away now, as Amano confirmed that Splatoon has no voice chat and never will. His explanation was this:
This is coming from personal experience. When I played online games, I didn't like the negativity I got and people telling me "You're crap. Go away". So we wanted to focus on the positive aspects of online gaming.
Rather disappointing news and guaranteed to stir up fierce debate, but it is admittedly based on a reasonable, if somewhat flawed, principle. Apparently, Amano believes that a mute option just isn't viable.
Moving on to gameplay, in the Splat Zone game mode, some of the larger maps will feature more than one boxed off area to retain control over. Once once team has control of all the regions, the timer for that team will begin ticking down until the opposing team managed to reclaim one of the zones. More game modes were also confirmed, but nothing specific was confirmed; expect to see more on these modes as we near release.
It appears that plenty of thought went into the overall balancing of the game, as well. Players will be invincible in the respawn point, which will hopefully negate spawn camping, and players can begin firing right before landing after doing a super jump. Main weapons have been balanced in such a way that there will be no definitive best weapon; players will always want just a little bit more of something out of all weapons, be it range, firing rate, power, etc.
The amiibo for the game were also talked about and it's been revealed what they will do. Each amiibo will come with 15 special challenge missions and 5 rare pieces of gear. One example given for the kinds of challenges one can expect from the amiibo is a time attack mode for a particular stage. Assumedly, these stages will have more gear or some special reward waiting at the end of them to entice gamers to complete them.
In regards to the style and design of the game, its origins lie mostly with the age of the developers. Nearly everyone who worked on Splatoon is in their early thirties, which plants them firmly in "90's kid" territory. This explains the fashion choice of the characters and the overall spirit of the game, it could certainly be described as "radical" or even "zany".
In closing comments, Katsuya Eguchi - Splatoon's producer - articulated how he believes the Splatoon IP has fantastic potential. He also reflected on the struggles of HD development, such as how important it is to make sure that newer team members' voices are heard as well and how to ensure quality work among the vastly differing skillsets and experience levels of team members. Eguchi-san also alluded to the possibility of DLC, which is unsurprising given that Nintendo seems to be warming up to the idea of it in general.
What do you think of this? Do you think that Splatoon has the chops to be Nintendo's next big franchise? Share your thoughts in the comments below.