Every year there are game of the year awards. Some outlets divide it up into categories based on genre. Therefore, it came as a surprise to many players, myself included, that Splatoon won Shooter of the Year for 2015. This was the year that games like Halo, Evolve, Rainbow Six Siege, Black Ops 3, and Battlefront came out, yet all were toppled by a Nintendo game? Man, 2015 was a wild year.
Splatoon is by no means a perfect game. Compared to other multiplayer titles, it was lacking many features. It took a couple months to add party play, you could only play two maps at a time, and there was no voice chat. Pair this with lack of game modes, and you may be wondering where all the praise is coming from. That is because despite it’s shortcomings, Splatoon dared to be different. It was a fresh take on a genre that was beginning to feel stale and predictable.
It has a single player!
Yes, Splatoon has a single player! Despite it only being 4-5 hours long, it was enjoyable every step of the way. The gameplay was an excellent mix of Super Mario Sunshine and Mario Galaxy. This is a big deal in a genre that has been sliding towards multiplayer-only experiences. What games like Evolve and Star Wars Battlefront missed is that the campaign sets up the game’s world.
Although weird, the war between the Octolings and Inklings gave players an idea of why these two sides are fighting each other. Adding some context makes players feel more attached to the characters and the world. Splatoon even added incentive to complete the single-player campaign by unlocking items such as outfits and weapons for the multiplayer mode.
You’re a Kid and a Squid!
This brings us to the meat of the game, the multiplayer. Splatoon has changed my opinion on what a multiplayer shooter is. Gone is the focus on K/D ration and every man going Rambo approach (mostly). Turf War focuses on covering more area than your opponent. Who cares if you go 0-6? Cover the most area, get more points to level up (even more points for team wins).
Sure, other modes such as Tower Control do focus more on killing your opponent, but the main emphasis is still on teamwork. Everything about Splatoon feels unique to the genre. Instead of being set in traditional locales, the multiplayer maps consist of skateparks, docks, camps, and etc. Camp Triggerfish and Blackbelly Skatepark are my personal favorites.
Even the weapons feel different. Sure you have your assault rifle and sniper rifle, but paint rollers and buckets? Each weapon has their own strengths, and a lot of balancing has been done to make sure one isn’t over powered.
Where Splatoon differs from games like Evolve, Battlefront and Rainbow Six Siege is how it kept me coming back for more. Although the game was very limited in content when it launched back in May, Nintendo kept adding to the game. By August, Splatoon had nearly double the content — and the best part is the DLC is free!
Events like Splatfests added intrigue. Do I prefer s’mores or hot dogs on camp-outs? Auto-bots or Decepticons? Quirky things like this made matches more exciting. To this day I still talk about and make references to Splatoon, and it is because the game keeps finding ways to make me play again.
Overall, Splatoon may not be the most feature-packed or best-selling shooter of 2015. Games like Halo and Black Ops 3 have a much bigger following and are the top echelon of the genre. However, their age is starting to show and they are focused on minor tweaks/improvements rather then trying something new.
Nintendo has broken new ground with Splatoon. Not only is the game fun to play, but it reminds us that we have not yet seen everything that gaming has to offer. And that’s why it’s the best shooter of 2015.