First things first: Are you a kid? Or are you a squid?
Splatoon is the first new IP that Nintendo has generated in what feels like forever. For the longest time, Nintendo has basically been spitting out regurgitated plots from already well-established characters. There's been new Mario games, new Legend of Zelda games, and a Metroid game that everyone would prefer to be forgotten.
It's a safe formula for Nintendo. These are franchises that will earn them money without much risk and so they keep pumping them out. That's not to say that some of these games aren't good. Skyward Sword was cool, Mario Galaxy was cool. It's just that there hasn't been a lot of variety in the Nintendo lineup for some time.
Well, that's changed now with Splatoon. They finally left the comfort of their established franchises and went out on a limb with something new.
And it's fucking awesome.
Splatoon is a third-person shooter game that places the player in control of an Inkling, one of a race of squid-people hybrid thingies. The single player calls on you, the squid-person, to defeat the evil of invading octopi who are covering the world in their brand of inky sludginess.
You fight this by slinging your own brand of inky sludginess. In the single player, it's all about defeating individual levels and sub-bosses so as to unlock the bigger stage boss in order to progress. It's a tried-and-true formula for isngle player, but the mechanics of Splatoon make it a bunch of fun.
You have an ink-slinging water gun type weapon with which to defeat your enemies, and you can transform into a squid with a trigger hold in order to move quickly through the ink as well as recharge ammunition.
The story mode blends platforming and shooting rather well, making for fun, fast gameplay.
The multiplayer is the real bread and butter of this game, though. It's entirely online multiplayer, meaning it doesn't support couch-based multiplayer: a trend that is annoyingly growing traction in the industry.
However, the online multiplayer is a mess of hectic fun. You have to go in understanding that this is a game marketed and designed for a younger audience, or it can be easy to be jaded about it. There are only two maps available at a time, and they cycle on a schedule of a few hours. This allows novice players to be able to grow an understanding of how the maps work.
There are a number of weapons with which you can outfit yourself for these online scraps, from the water gun type thingy to a large paint roller, to a rocket launcher. Depending on the weapon you use, you also get different special moves. For instance, the paint roller grants you the Kraken special, where you turn into a larger version of your squid form, capable of spreading an inky trail and taking out enemies.
There are a couple of things about Splatoon's multiplayer that really shine, beacons of uniqueness in a densely populated field of shooters. For starters, the game isn't about just killing the enemy team. No, instead the game centers around covering more of the map in your team's color than the other team. It's all about turf control.
The second thing that makes Splatoon so great for the industry overall is the simple fact that there is no voice chat support. It may seem like a small thing, and even to some it will seem to be a flaw, but what it does is prevent shitty people from saying shitty things using the anonymity of the internet.
A lot fewer people seem to be engaging in sexual congress with my mother on Splatoon than on, say, Call of Duty. And for that, we should be thankful.