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When Splatoon first released back in June, it received mostly favorable reviews, but it had a few problems. Mainly, there just wasn’t enough content. After the recent update that came August 5, 2015, Splatoon deserved a review redo for those who waited to buy the game. Splatoon isn’t the game it was when it first released May 28, 2015. The game hit store shelves with heavy expectations and little content. Features were incomplete or just plain missing from the game and simply “planned for later,” with no fine details about release dates. Early reception of Splatoon showed an optimistic outlook, but a lament to the lack of a fully fleshed game.

Over the coming weeks, Nintendo proved they weren’t trying to pull a fast one on consumers and have shown a plethora of updates and content for the ink-shooter. New mode types, new weapons, new clothes, new music, new … everything! The Splatoon we were introduced to has grown out of it’s holey shell into a fully fleshed out game.

I said back in my Splatoon review that charging $60 for the game in the state it was in was unacceptable, and I stand by that. But Splatoon has changed, and now feels more worthy of your hard-earned dollars/pounds/rupees. Once the level cap rose to 50 I had a blast playing the game all over again. The game has been given new life, and the new modes brought a welcome shake up to the stand formula I’d grown accustomed to.

Splatoon Mackerel

With Squad Battle, you can now bring your friends along while fighting random players, and with private matchmaking players can have fully set rules for the match. This includes customizing the map, mode type, and weapons. But that’s not all, Rank Battles have a risen ranking system that let’s players rise to S and S+ ranks, while the level cap has been raised from 20 to 50!

Once you pass the level 20 milestone, leveling up works differently. Instead of earning a greater number of points during battle, you’ll be earning anywhere from 1-5 in turf wars depending on certain factors. 1 point for 200p worth of paint and 2 for 400p worth of paint—these are both easily achievable. Then you get 3 points for winning the match.

I’m not really a fan of this, because before my points count was proportional to my skill as a player. If I played well, I leveled fast, and if I played lousy—and didn’t contribute to painting turf—I wouldn’t get as many points. Now my leveling is more dependent on my team winning, and my skill only gets me as far as 400p. This in theory sounds like a better system as it encourages team work, but without the inclusion of mic chat, I found it an inferior system. Before I didn’t find the mic chat all that necessary, but if you want to level up at a decent rate after reaching level 20, it seems odd to rely on your teammates without being able to communicate with them outside of yelling “BOO YA!” 

The biggest change is undoubtably the added maps. New maps really changed the way I look as this game. Where before I saw a good idea that hadn’t been fully executed, now I see one my favorite shooters of the last 5 years. The level design itself isn’t anything to receive awards for, but they each bring a unique take on the turf war set up Nintendo has brought us.

As I lost myself in dozens of hours of Splatoon, I began developing strategies for the individual courses I would play on. In Port Mackerel I would stick to the sides and fire inward to the Squidlings being filtered through the shipping crates. Arowana Mall became a mad dash to get your side as far forward as possible in the opening minutes; Saltspray Rig always boiled down to a king of the hill match with the storage area in the back.

The more I think about it, the less I want to know where exactly they're getting all that ink from...

The decision to keep only two available maps every hour has only become more bewildering with these new maps. I could reason it before as only having 5 maps, so if they cut you off from them they won’t feel as stale since you doubt get to see them as often. Now with twice as many stages, making players play the same two stages over and over is ridiculous and unnecessary. If Nintendo indeed fears the stages will become stale, why not at least rotate between three or four stages? It was far too common during multiplayer sessions to encounter the same stage, no exaggeration, five or six times in a row. With even just one more stage added into the mix, you could set up an algorithm that guarantees you will play a different stage next match, but the audience won’t know which stage it will be.

Updates since the game’s release have brought a plethora of new outfits and weapons. New ways to dress like a punk mall kid nicely break up the shooting experience, and I found myself eagerly running back to the shops to try out wonderfully pretentious clothing choices to look as “fresh as possible.” The added weapons really brought out the variety in the game. Where once I saw groups of Rollers supported by Snipers, I now saw crews of Bucket-weilders backed up by Splattling Guns mowing the way for them. The landscape of turf wars got turned on its head and now battles have become as helter-skelter and spectacular as the game’s aesthetic demands for.

Picture Source: Splatoon Wikia

Battles still have the problem of sometimes turning one-sided within 30 seconds, as the game still doesn’t mind placing high and low level players against each other. I remember playing a match where all my teammates and I were level 20, and the other squad were two 7’s, an 8, and an 11. I felt dirty about how quickly they were cornered into their spawn point. 

Speaking of which, levels from this point on should really include at least one additional spawn point. Cornering other teams/ getting cornered ourselves happened way too frequently, and often the best strategy to winning a game wasn’t to concentrate on covering the field strategically, but to make a frenzied sprint across the field in order to box the other team in as quickly as possible while your other team mates could cover the field. If Nintendo implemented another spawn point, players could get some options and wrangle control back.

Octopus tentacles, the natural enemy of the squid.

Another option the game sorely lacks in the ability to swap weapons between matches. If you’re finding a weapon just isn’t working out, you need to completely disconnect from the lobby, swap weapons, then find a new lobby. For a modern shooter there really isn’t a reason to not have this. 

The game controls as well as it has since day one. Covering the turf zone in brightly colored ink and pushing the enemy back feels chaotic and fun. The story mode still feels like an excellent distraction and a great way to hone your skills. The Splatfests add another degree of fun “us vs them” attitude to the game, encouraging people to pick sides over simple things like Hot Dogs and Marshmellows. Little flairs like these add an atmosphere to the game, and keep me interested in coming back to try new things.

Splatoon started out with a strong premise but lacked the muscle to back it up. With the new updates put into consideration, I can say with certainty that Splatoon is absolutely worth your $60. The game still has problems that keep it from joining the prestigious ranks of its big brother shooter competitors, but Splatoon has never meant to be one of those games. It still lacks voice chat, which now feels more missing with the grater reliance on teamwork post level 20. It still plays keep away with its larger option of new maps, making sure you come back multiple times a day just so you can actually play your game. It still locks content behind an amiibo paywall.

But what it strives to do it does well. Splatoon is one of the most fun shooters I’ve ever played. Its energetic matches, bevy of weapon choices, charming atmosphere, unique gameplay and superb new game modes makes Splatoon feel like a genuine classic before its even a year old. The game has become a mainstay in my Wii U library and earned its place next to Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, and Super Mario 3D World.

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Bryan Heraghty

Staff Writer

Avid shooter and platformer fan. Coffee is the only power up I need. In the spare time I have I will listen to more podcasts than has scientifically been deemed healthy. Hit me up on Twitter if you ever want to chat with me about games, tech, or whatever.