Splatoon 2 Single-Player Hero Mode (Nintendo Switch) Preview

By Tomas Barry 11.07.2017 1

Review for Splatoon 2 Single-Player Hero Mode on Nintendo Switch

When the Inklings first splashed onto the scene with Splatoon on Wii U back in 2015, the new IP from Nintendo felt like a breath of fresh air. Its '90s cartoon-like vibe was perfectly channelled, and its confident and alternative style, rather reminiscent of Jet Set Radio and elements of Super Mario Sunshine, was a sustaining factor behind its popularity. More importantly, its addictive and colourful brand of competitive multiplayer was an entire world removed from the tedious bleakness of Call of Duty and Battlefield. Trust Nintendo to find a space in a crammed proverbial parking lot and slot in effortlessly. Nobody would have thought that territorial paintball battles could basically birth a new series, but that's exactly how it came to be. A small group of young employees began experimenting with a four vs. four multiplayer paintball scenario where the objective was to cover as much of the map in your team's paint as possible.

In a parallel universe, this concept ended up being a Mario game, presumably borrowing and building on Super Mario Sunshine elements, such as the FLUDD water system. However, thankfully, the higher-ups saw the potential for this to throw up something new. Now there are the Inklings, metamorphic creatures that spray ink and transform into squid whenever they feel like, to traverse through any ink splashed around the area. This is one of several hugely distinguishing mechanisms in play that make it so fun and addictive.

The biggest shame about the original Splatoon, unfortunately, was that Wii U never really had the traction that the game deserved. While the IP was very well received, sold well, and had the best and most fleshed-out online features of any Nintendo game ever before, there's no denying it was somewhat restricted by its platform's dwindling popularity. Much like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, then, people could be forgiven for suspecting that Splatoon 2 might be nothing but a re-launch of the original. Those who invested in the original may even be wary of this possibility, since Splatoon is probably not going to be the last Wii U game to receive a quick-fire follow-up on Nintendo Switch.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Single-Player Hero Mode on Nintendo Switch

Where Nintendo draws the line in this respect, which will be addressed later, in the final review, will be very interesting to see. Considering Call of Duty and others have different developer teams on rotation just to push out an identical formula each year, usually with a similarly disappointing single-player element each time to boot, it is possible Nintendo might follow suit with some elements of reproduction from the last entry. Inkopolis Square, for example, looks nearly identical to the original, except that it's more detailed, sleeker, and a bit more compressed. Obviously, that doesn't indicate a lot, but there's no denying that the existing fan-base will have concerns and want to know if the 2 in the title is justifiable, or whether a Deluxe tag would have been more appropriate. With that said, especially with multiplayer-centric games, the landscape does change from launch through its life-cycle as content is added, so that will likely be an on-going debate.

For those who remain un-inducted into Splatoon, a hands-on impression of Splatoon 2's Hero Mode is an excellent starting place to talk about what makes the franchise so vibrant and intriguing. As far as single-player goes, this is the core experience, and just as with the original, it would be easy to over-look it, considering the multiplayer-emphasis of the game overall. However, ignoring this side of Splatoon 2 would be a huge mistake, since Hero Mode features some truly delightful level design, quintessentially Nintendo in so many ways. However, because of aspects like using the motion input for aiming (the Y axis is best controlled by motion, whilst the X axis is best tempered with the analogue stick), it also feels like rather new territory. Once you're used to these controls, by the way, they are superb. For reference, see the sceptical opinion of the motion controls back during the Global Testfire. It turns out that was largely because multiplayer is too hectic an environment to learn the fundamentals within.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Single-Player Hero Mode on Nintendo Switch

Hero Mode comprises five hub-worlds, featuring six levels and a boss battle to progress. While this is not a massive amount of content, the distinct craft of each stage really is something to appreciate. New elements tend to shape or heavily-influence the way the level works, which keeps the player learning new tricks at a neatly balanced and bite-sized rate. As a hired agent, working for Marie to find the Great Zapfish and Marie's missing cousin, Callie, there's a lot of support thrown the player's way to keep the mode interesting. Sheldon is constantly loaning out more equipment for new levels to get back the valuable battle data, so there are a lot of surprises and new things being introduced regularly in that respect, too.

As you're fired from one launch-pad to the next, from platform to platform, one is reminded more than a little of Super Mario Galaxy. However, Splatoon 2's quirkiness really does feel like its own, too. The Octarian enemies are cartoonish and exaggerated, each offering a different challenge and often requiring a change of approach. Carefully navigating several pitfalls to get the drop on a Otcosniper, for example, which sounds tremendously stupid, always raises a smile. Ducking under the ink to circle round and pop up behind an Octotrooper with a shield turned the wrong way, also feels nice and gratifying. In this sense, every enemy requires a tactic.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Single-Player Hero Mode on Nintendo Switch

Bosses are also classic Nintendo, with some hilarious challenges to face. Take Octo Oven, from Tentakeel Outpost, for instance. A giant industrial-sized baking oven that after swirling around trying to squish the player enough, dispenses loaves that the player can ink up and climb towards his weak-spot. It's still quite a traditional boss-like experience, but it's fair to say that the ink spraying and squid-morphing traversal mechanics offer plenty of interesting spins on the existing formulae. Each is one to savour, then.

The hub-worlds and levels themselves also look fantastic in 1080p, as well as in handheld mode. Although they're a little more condensed in size than the original's mode, they are thoughtfully put together, a lot of fun to traverse, and look great splashed in ink. There's been a great deal of work put into accentuating the smaller graphical details, too, such as how the characters look, their animations and their detail, which is an improvement on the original. The lighting also seems more vibrant, which seems to help the game's aesthetic quite a bit, particularly when it comes to little things like the way light shimmers on the ink. Without being a technical powerhouse, Splatoon 2 looks gorgeous with its clean '90s-influenced, colourful aesthetic. It strikes a very particular style, which certainly resonates.

Screenshot for Splatoon 2 Single-Player Hero Mode on Nintendo Switch

Final Thoughts

Throughout the entirety of the single-player Hero Mode, gamers will be treated to a wide variety of contrasting levels, each of which is memorable and worth revisiting thanks to various collectible items that are carefully hidden. This will add replay value to the single-player experience, which it will probably need until perhaps a single-player DLC comes along some time in the future, which would be a more than welcome addition. While on Day One many will go straight for the multiplayer content, Hero Mode represents not just an opportunity to discover and learn about Splatoon's mechanical depth at a very nice pace, but also a chance to appreciate clever Nintendo level design in a refreshing context. There's plenty more to Splatoon 2 that has yet to be experienced, but things certainly seem to be shaping up well. Stay tuned to Cubed3 for the full review, making a splash next Tuesday.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Action

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This is exactly what I wanted to hear, because if I was to consider this, I'd not particularly be wanting to play it in multiplayer - I like having a meaty solo experience, even in games like this and MK8.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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