Two days ago, Nintendo announced in their Splatoon direct that we would be able to play a small demo of the game at very specific times. More specifically three 1 hour windows of time. The first of which was at 8 PM last night. Or so I thought.
As it turns out, Earth is round! An oblate spheroid (science!) to be precise. We (as in humans, I had nothing to do with it) developed time zones so that all parts of the globe experience the glory that is the noon when the sun is high in the sky. Nintendo was very clear about the times but I wasn't paying attention. I foolishly told my son that we would be able to try out Splatoon at 8 PM, I didn't notice that it was Pacific time. So 8 PM came and went, and a sad boy went to bed dejected and a little less impressed with his dad. The next time that you could play was this morning, but I didn't want it to interfere with his T-Ball game, so we synchronized our watches, and set a timer for 3 PM.
We had the Wii U updated and ready to play, he pulled those triggers and went through a quick tutorial to help get familiar with the controls and objectives, as well as abilities of the squid kids. After the tutorial he joined his first battle. Within thirty seconds of starting the battle he proclaimed "This is so awesome!" After that we took turns, each battle is 3 minutes in duration, and waiting is not a big deal (which is important to note, since the demo contains no single player campaign levels, or local multiplayer)
There are no classes in the game, instead you get your abilities from your weapon loadout. I personally didn't play a lot, probably 3 - 4 matches, my son played most of the hour, but I tried 3 weapon types. Sniper Rife, Roller, and short range repeater. Each weapon had a unique feel, the Roller is what most people will say is OP, but I disagree, as its pretty slow. If you see a roller coming at you hit swim mode (transform back into a squid) retreat turn around and blast them. If you don't see them coming then you're dead. The Sniper Rifle has a longer charge, but makes a pretty big mess, which is great. The repeater seems like the general all around weapon that is good at everything but excels at nothing.
The controls are odd, you move with the left stick, and aim with a combination of the gyroscopic controls and the right stick. It's weird, do a search for #splatoon on twitter and you'll find an equal number of complaints about it as people praising it. Personally I don't think an hour with the game is enough time to decide if I want to turn motion controls off (which thankfully you can). They feel like you can be more precise but I definitely think that I need more practice with them.
Overall in the one hour that I got to play I came away thinking that the bright colors bring a fresh perspective to the shooter genre, combine that perspective with the fact that your goal is to paint the arena not eliminate players (though that helps) makes this game a unique frantic experience that I'm really looking forward to. The big question is, with only 10 million Wii U in the wild will Nintendo sell enough copies of Splatoon to support what is at its heart an online multiplayer shooter?
I hope so.
Image can be found here