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“Splatoon” is one of Nintendo’s best properties

“Splatoon” is one of Nintendo’s best properties

“Splatoon” is one of Nintendo’s best properties
May 04
12:24 2020

What comes to your mind when it comes to Nintendo? Your first thoughts are probably MarioZelda, or perhaps Pokemon. I think of those too, but nowadays I also think of squids. Specifically, I think of “Splatoon.” Despite launching on a failing console, this newer franchise has become one of Nintendo’s most popular games.

Splatoon had a lot of things working against it, most notably its platform. The Wii U was not a bad console, but rather a failed one. Nintendo advertised it horribly, focusing so much on the new game-pad controller, it confused consumers who thought the Wii U was just a new controller for the Wii instead of a succeeding console. It had minimal third party support and it’s launch titles weren’t appealing. All of these factors and more led to the Wii U becoming Nintendo’s worst-selling console to date. What’s amazing is that “Splatoon was able to become a massive hit in spite of the Wii U’s failure.

Splatoon was a huge shock with its 2014 E3 trailer because people were genuinely surprised Nintendo came up with a new intellectual property. Before “Splatoon,” there was a popular misconception that Nintendo hadn’t had a new IP since 2001. While that’s false, a huge majority of those IPs performed poorly or had lackluster identities. A recognizable brand, like Mario, is a lot safer to sell than something unknown. In fact, in its early development stages, “Splatoon was almost another Mario game. Thankfully, Nintendo was willing to take a risk.

The reasons “Splatoon was so successful are its innovation and its identity. “Splatoon is a third-person shooter, but its goal isn’t to rack up kills, it’s to paint the arena in your team’s colored ink. The game’s main characters, the Inklings, are a half-human, half-squid race that can fully transform into squids. As a squid, you can swim through your team’s ink allowing you to swim up walls, heal yourself and refill your ink storage. These mechanics combined with a wide array of weapon types made the online-multiplayer addictive and fun. The game won tons of awards for its fresh take on the shooting genre.

As the game went on, the developers kept giving out free updates with more maps and weapons and held monthly festival competitions called “Splatfests” which made the online scene for this game incredibly active.

Then there’s “Splatoon’s” identity. Its world is inhabited by all sorts of advanced, sentient aquatic life. The Inklings and their culture are based on a 90’s-skater aesthetic, which is played off with such a lighthearted tone, it comes off as natural rather than excessive. This world has a deeper history found in its single-player campaign where you become an agent in the war against the “Ocatarians” for world domination. To top it off, “Splatoon’s” world has the added backdrop of being a post-apocalyptic earth, which is surprisingly common in Nintendo games. These ideas can appear as dysfunctional, but the developers have crafted a truly captivating world that players fell in love with.

Splatoon was the sixth-best selling Wii U game, a feat that’s more impressive when you realize almost every other game in the top 10 is from Mario. Its sequel, “Splatoon 2,” was one of the Switch’s first major games, releasing in July of 2017. The sequel became the seventh-best selling Switch game and also got its own Amiibo, its own Splatfests, its own holographic concerts and a full-on DLC expansion

Nintendo has had a few new IPs since “Splatoon,” but none have had the explosive impact “Splatoon” did. When it comes to inventing and selling new IPs for games, “Splatoon has to be the best example I’ve witnessed in the last decade.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Matthew Payne

Matthew Payne

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