The Nintendo Switch is in full swing, riding off its successful launch and followup by games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as well as the new IP Arms. One of the biggest draws for the console for many gamers was the sequel to Wii U sensation Splatoon. Just a week away from release, Nintendo offered all Switch owners a chance to demo the game with the Splatoon 2 Splatfest World Premiere. A glorified demo, the Splatfest World Premiere showcased what the larger game would bring, albeit in tiny, oftentimes familiar chunks.
Right off the bat, Splatoon 2 feels a hell of a lot like Splatoon. You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh,” but there are some massive changes between the hardware of the Wii U and the Switch. Namely, the original Splatoon required the Wii U GamePad to play. The whole experience works remarkably similar on the Switch Joy Cons. That being said, I always thought Splatoon had a very steep learning curve for just the controls, and this reigns true here too: managing motion controls and aiming/firing with the controls sticks takes some getting used too.
Nintendo always offers a polish to their games many other companies can only hope to achieve. This attention to detail is in the demo as well. Right when you booted up the game you were offered a small but welcome variety of cosmetic changes to your Inkling character before you get dropped into the game’s hub. A busy nightlife scene makes the game feel *ahem* fresh when compared to other games that would likely just make this navigation to the actual game a menu (which, for the record, is also available if you don’t feel like walking around to do things). A major reason Splatoon first stood out to me was the awesome amount of color, detail, and personality injected into every feasible inch of the game. Thankfully this appears to be another key feature of Splatoon 2!
Getting more into the demo itself, the only options available were Turf War. In Turf War, your squad of four Inklings tries to cover the most ground with their colored paint, while your opponents do the same. It is arguably the main gameplay mode of the series, and it is just as fun the second time around as it was the first. Being just a demo, only a paltry few options are available in terms of weaponry. Returning from the first game are the Splattershot, Charger, and Splat Roller. The Splattershot is a basic automatic machinegun type weapon, the Charger a sniper of sorts, and the Splat Roller, well… it’s a giant paint roller that wrecked havoc when the game first released and everyone was using them. The sole new weapon available in the demo were the Dualies, a pair of paint pistols that had a seemingly shorter range than the Splattershot but fired just as quick. They likely did more damage too, but I was dying way too much to test out that hypothesis.
Also new were the secondary loadouts the weapons brought. There were staples like grenades and roaming land mines, but the new super moves were the real takeaway winners for me. Tenta Missiles allow your Inkling to whip out a pair of huge heat-seeking rocket launchers to reign justice down on your foes across the map. The Splashdown move, however, is for more up close and personal encounters, as it allows you to jump up in the air and slam down a bucket of paint on your foe below. The assortment of weapons outside the main guns added to the strategy and gameplay immensely, and they felt new enough to make me have to learn how to play all over again.
New mechanics also make their way into the game. In the demo there is an ability to roll by pressing the B button, quickly dodging enemy fire and setting up your next attack. You can also jump to any player on your team at any time, something I thought the first game desperately needed. Though not available in the demo, there are new powerups available for your clothing items when you gain enough experience. With all these new features it makes the game feel just different enough to make me want to play again. And that’s just the main mode; the full release will also feature the new Horde mode like Salmon Run, as well as new splatfests, game modes, and more!
It’s hard to judge a game by a short demo, but if the main game is anything like the original Splatoon, which the demo sure makes it out to be, then Splatoon 2 will be another huge hit for the Switch. If you played the original game and enjoyed it you’ll be pleased to experience the game all over again, complete with new levels, modes, options, and literally everything else. If this is your first time playing Splatoon, it might seem a daunting task to start due to the steep learning curve, but trust me in saying if the game is as fun as the Wii U original, it’ll be wholly worth your time.
Now, just one more week for the full release!