I dislike anything that looks like a FPS. I’m almost pathologically noncompetitive, not a big fan of guns ‘n ammo, and find the idea of “ranking up” to be tedious.
So why do I like Splatoon?
In fact, why do I really like Splatoon?
Alright, first and most obvious answer is the colors, Duke, the colors. We all know that the FPS genre long ago adopted the gritty, realistic aesthetic and never looked back. My response to this choice has always been some mixture of shock and revulsion. Brown? Bad news, guys, that’s the color of poop. With the possible exception of an emoji or two, “like poop” has never been a desirable trait in any context (see also: UPS). I suppose I understand how some people want realism in their games that involve repeatedly dying and then instantly being reborn exactly the same, but it’s not for me. I’m someone that, for better or worse, painted every room in his house in honor of the great Roy G. Biv. I wore red sneakers to my grandparents’ funeral. I like color, dammit.
Splatoon presses all the right color buttons, and, what’s more, it’s Nintendo-ified up and down. Like Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong, the squidlings are pretty rigidly defined and a bunch of nebulous ciphers. There’s no way you’d mistake a squid girl’s silhouette for anything else, but you’re also free to write a ten thousand page fanfic about the adventures of Mary, Best Squidling Ever (who also might have a tragic past). The Splatoon world is typical Nintendo sunny and happy (and maybe post-apocalyptic), and the plot of the single player mode is simultaneously goofy and epic. I doubt the next Marvel Cinematic Feature will involve a malevolent DJ attempting to conquer an old man and two pop stars with the power of octo-beats, but it certainly makes a good capper to some Splatoon times.
Color, engrossing characters, and a fun story? Is that what does it? No. If that were so, I’d be playing Overwatch, which, like many FPSs, I can identify as a good game, but seem to be completely incapable of enjoying the dang thing. So it’s not just the Splatoon universe that gets my ink squirting…
Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not really a FPS. FPS stands for “first person shooter”, and I’ve only really been applying the term here because it “works” so much like other FPS games. This isn’t a first person play experience, the camera is distinctly behind the squidlings, so it’s third person, and thus more… what? 3-D Contra? Maybe something more like Metroid: Other M? Wait, no, I just realized those two games are terrible, it can’t be because I like that perspective if those are the first examples I can recall.
Maybe I just like to jump? I mean, most games that involve jumping I absolutely love (see Mega Man, Mario, and let’s say… Rampage?), and the camera and arenas of Splatoon virtually encourage leaping all over the place. There are moving platforms! And changing water levels! And the fact that it’s not a “true” FPS really helps, because, as the Metroid Prime games confirmed, jumping when you can’t see your feet is maybe not the most fun thing in the world. Not to say it’s impossible in a FPS (I do want to point out that I happily cleared two out of four Metroid Primes), it’s just a tweak more frustrating.
But… there are a number of “FPS games” that aren’t true FPSs. I’ve said before that I’m terrible with “real” genre designations, but is this where the term “Arena Shooter” applies? Or “Twitch Shooter”? Whatever the case, there are plenty of games that share Splatoon’s perspective and general “feel”, and none of them have held my interest longer than a month, left alone a year’s worth of Splatfests.
And it’s not Callie and Marie, because admitting that would be revolting.
No, it’s none of these things that keep me coming back to Splatoon. It’s not the transparently shallow “level up” mechanics, it’s not the easy Miiverse communication in the hub town, and it’s not the flood of puns that threaten to drag Spike the Street Urchin out to sea. No, what keeps me playing Splatoon is one simple thing…
I can shoot the floor. And I’m helping!
I can try to take an objective tone to this problem all I want, but the simple truth is that I’m terrible at FPS games. I have awful aim. My depth perception has always been crap (and it’s a chicken/egg debate as to whether that was impacted by early [continuous] videogame playing, or I naturally gravitated toward videogames because “defined” pixel distances in 2-D games made more sense to my child-brain), and, frankly, I have difficulties with everything from sniping to Pokémon Go (“Yes, keep throwing that pokéball over that Rapidash’s head, good.”). In fact, the idea of a “sniping” based videogame where you sit around and wait to pick off some poor malcontent is right up there with a toenail clipping simulator on the list of games I absolutely never want to play. One of my good friends adores anything that involves a scope, but… ugh, not for me.
And, frankly, I have terrible spatial relations in FPS games. Maybe it’s something about the layout, feedback, or something, but, despite liking Bioshock, my most immediate memory of that game was watching my character’s health drain in a bathroom stall as a splicer repeatedly stabbed me in the back. I know my health is draining for some reason… oh… there you are! Please stop that! I’ve never missed a boo or goomba sneaking up on Mario, but put me in a first person (or similar) environment, and suddenly I have the awareness of a deaf sloth. Splatoon is no different, and the raw number of times I’ve been “splatted” is a testament to that.
And, to top it all off, my brain can’t deal with ammo. I have two mental settings: hoard and berserker. At all times, I am either carefully preserving each bullet like they are precious children, or I’m unloading every last shot into the darkness with the hope that maybe I’ll hit something or other. There is no middle ground. I blame JRPGs and their imaginary insistence that I save that megalixer for some unforeseen threat, but I literally cannot properly ration ammo in a FPS. I’m either going to die clutching that dear rocket launcher ammo, or blow up the entire surrounding area (and myself) inside of three seconds.
This is who I am. And Splatoon helps that person.
Ammo is no big deal, because, while I’m likely to run out, I can quickly refuel in any nearby puddle. I’m going to get splatted, and often, but respawn is quick, easy, and virtually without consequence. And, finally, I need not worry about aiming, because I am winning simply by shooting the floor. Heck, I technically don’t have to interact with a single other player if I wander off into some alley and aim down to my heart’s content. Splatoon seems made for me and various neuroses.
Splatoon is an amazing FPS game for people that are bad at identifying/playing FPSs. I’d love to discuss it further, but I’ve got to get back to Inkopolis now. There are some floors that need splatting.
FGC #181 Splatoon
- System: WiiU, and I hope Nintendo’s next offering involves a similar controller, because Splatoon wouldn’t be as fun without that controller map.
- Number of players: I guess… eight? I’m going to mark it down as four for the tags, though. Fear of new tags, you understand.
- What’s in a name? I’ve had the Goggle Bob moniker since high school, so there are a number of people who have been calling me that name for years. This has led to an amusing quirk as my friends started breeding, as now there’s an entire generation of young’uns who only know me as Goggle Bob, as if “goggle” were a title like “mister” or “uncle”. So I was talking to my buddy’s son, an eight year old, about Splatoon. At one point, he asked for my “Wii name”, and I told him it was “Goggle Bob”. He made that “oooooooooh” sound that many kids reserve for when someone says a swear, and he quickly chastised me with, “Goggle Bob, you know you’re not supposed to use your real name online!” I think this generation is going to be alright.
- Splatfest: I’m going to miss scheduling my weekend around playing Splatoon. It wasn’t about the wins for my team or collecting the shells afterwards, I just liked the idea of people from all over the country coming together to fight for the glory of… Fancy parties? I must have missed that one.
- Favorite Squid Sister: Callie, you were robbed. Purple and peppy beats green and sullen any day.
- Did you know? We never received mods/outfits to officially play as Octolings, and that’s terrible.
- Would I play again: This is one of the few FGC choices that I was basically already playing when it was chosen, and will go back to playing once again after the article is complete. I’m not, like, playing it all the time, but I probably pick it up at least once a month. If you need further explanation of that, please read the article again.
What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Super Robot Taisen OG Saga: Endless Frontier for the DS! Phew, that’s a mouthful. At least there’s guaranteed to be robots… right? Please look forward to it!