Yahtzee reviews Splatoon 2.
Oh, Splatoon 2, please don't think I've been avoiding you. I know I've been knocking off a string of indie games since you came out, and I already regret giving time to that Yonder: The Child Toucher Chronicles or whatever it was, but the thing is, I get a terrible sense of foreboding whenever I do a Nintendo game. As I speak, there are fanboys just lying in wait to copy-paste one of the usual statements into this video's comment box, either "Well, this reflects his obvious bias against Nintendo", or "How surprising that he liked it considering his obvious bias against Nintendo!", although, to be honest, there was another thing making me particularly leery about Splatoon 2.
The first Splatoon was Nintendo's first original thought since Pikmin, arguably; I mean, they basically took one of the standard Mario enemies and made a multiplayer shooter around them with a single-player campaign reminiscent of the things that flake off a 3D Mario game when it combs its hair too vigorously. But even that, I knew, was using Nintendo's entire creativity allotment for the next three decades of first-party games, and the added excuse of bringing the franchise to a new console made it an all-but-certain bet that I could review Splatoon 2 by copy-pasting my entire Splatoon 1 review and adding a few digs at the Trump administration. And again, I know exactly what you predictable comments-section throatmongs are typing in response to this: "What did you expect, Yahtzee? Tortuously bringing out sequels identical to the last game but with absolute best case, like, two new things is precisely what people want from Nintendo." Use my big, hairy balls as binoculars! If Splatoon 2 had evolved and elevated the franchise to a new peak, if it had been "The Empire Strikes Splat", then no one would be saying to Nintendo, "Ooh, what a disappointment. I was hoping for the same shit as before, but with a number on the end."
You see, sometimes, if there's nothing else, a game can be brought down simply by what it is not, and Splatoon 2 is not much worth picking up if you've got Splatoon 1. You start the game and you're back in the same squid city with the same player avatars distributed about the main square with speech bubbles coming off showing what that player has scribbled into the message window while excrementally bored one day. Interestingly, this time around, I saw very few messages to the effect of "Ooh, Nintendo are great and I want to kiss them on the knob", which might reflect a bit of a societal mood shift, or perhaps, more likely, Nintendo are getting lazy around the message-filtering this time.
Actually, a lot of the messages I saw were related to furries, for some reason: "I have a fur-sona", "Hooray for furries", "I wish it to be known that I am a very unreliable dog-sitter." Was there some kind of call to action in some dark, embarrassing corner of the Internet? Does a squid-human hybrid count as a furry, strictly speaking, or is this just a case of "any port in a storm until the new Sonic comes out and they can all wank themselves cross-eyed"? Well, anyway, I sped through those louts trying not to make eye contact and began my first match, and what do you know, it's the same sodding game! They took that little minigame out that you played to pass the time waiting for the round to start, so I had to get by with thinking about rainbows and touching myself, but otherwise, yeah, you run around an arena, widdling all over the floor, and the winner is the team that widdled on the most of it. Sounds simple, but you'd be surprised how few players seemed to be clear on that second part.
The game matchmakes about as well as a Victorian orphan with severe frostbite, so I was going up against dudes all the way up to level 20, but I was still routinely coming up top of the list for "Most Floor Piddled On". Something's not right here. I'm notoriously shit at multiplayer; why are you all being shitter? Is it because you have an average age of nine-and-a-half? But no answer came, because you can only talk to each other through a fucking phone app, which is a risky move on Nintendo's part, 'cos while fiddling with my phone, I might decide I'd rather be playing Bejeweled, or that I could get pretty much the same experience as Splatoon's voice chat by ringing up the local kindergarten and yelling that Santa isn't real.
As before, there's a single-player campaign which looked like it was hitting all the same notes: hub world, collect local equivalent of Mario star at the end of each level, profound sense of suffocatingly-tedious repetition broken up by the odd "do thing three times" boss fight. I think it was the first boss that killed any interest I had in seeing the campaign through; it was a giant killer baker's oven, containing murderous bread with angry eyes. I just don't see what that's got to do with any of the established themes of the game, those being "oceangoing lifeforms" and "a slightly desperate air of 90's coolness". Octopi do not bake bread, nor can one picture Tony Hawk doing it. This, Nintendo, is why we don't design boss fights right before lunch.
So I kicked the single-player in the head and focused on the multiplayer modes this time around, and one thing that is new is a co-op mode where you and your team fight swarms of AI-controlled fish monsters in order to collect their eggs, which does rather throw up some questions about the inner workings of this post-human mutant-squid society and what specific intentions our employers have for the unborn children of a merluccid underclass, but who cares? Now we can buy new t-shirts to which none of the other players will pay the slightest attention.
The fish-rampage-fetus-abduction-go-round, while not really going anywhere, is a perfectly functional little distraction, but it's not that difficult and your ammo's infinite, so I question the need for it to be co-op; all the other players can do is resurrect you, and their main role at all other times is to start the cocking elevator just before I've gotten on the thing. Also, it essentially reduces gameplay to bog-standard "shoot the enemies" while putting the whole "widdling all over the floor" mechanic in the back seat, which is supposed to be Splatoon's unique core. I think we can all agree, Splatoon, that nobody likes having their back seat widdled over.
Finally, one thing I was privileged to witness was a "Splatfest", a one-day event that left me very confused indeed. It started with a TV asking me if I preferred ketchup or mayo, so like any red-blooded Englishman, I chose ketchup over that insipid, colorless McChicken Sandwich-ruiner. I was then invited to battle it out against Team Mayo in standard matches, but after I joined one, along with three other Team Ketchup kids, we were kept waiting about five minutes before the enemy team also filled up with Team Ketchup. This happened for every single match, which, at first, I put down to Team Mayo being as popular as a used tampon in a jacuzzi, but at the end of the Splatfest, Team Mayo had won the most rounds! Where?! I never saw a single mayo molester!
Did I just misunderstand the concept? The winner was whichever team won the most points against itself? I'm not sure if that counts as self-harm or masturbation. You know what? I kind of suspect it was a programming fuck-up, 'cos I noticed one of the dudes in the opposing team on one match went by the name "Agent Mayo", and it seemed unlikely that such a person would be ketchup-aligned, unless he was a "Double Agent Mayo", in which case, watch your back, Agent; Team Mayo don't forgive turncoats. You can run, but they'll find you in the end; you'll be walking the streets of Rio one day, thinking you finally lost them, when you turn around and bam! Ruined chicken sandwich.
- Splat's the way I like it: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- So we're just going to stand here and let this Japanese game about tentacle creatures spunking all over things slip by without a hentai joke are we
- Disclaimer: Don't widdle on things