I’d like to attribute Splatoon as the game that coerced me out of my offline, single player shell and take a look into what competitive play has to offer. With its bright, vibrant aesthetic, straightforward, yet addictive gameplay that calls for more strategy to effectively optimize your efficiency to splat, battle defensively, or cover ground, and the Inklings themselves, charming, adorable creatures with moxie, it’s not a surprise that Splatoon has swam its way into the hearts of those who enjoy it and propelled its popularity far past the stratosphere. Even a cynical hermit like myself found reasons to play for an exorbitant amount of time. I never set up parties with friends, I just like hopping in random matches and destroying fools like I’m an extra in Red Dawn.
It’s a blast, but more often than not, I’m not in the mood to wait around in lobbies all day and just want to play at my own pace, Splatoon’s single player campaigns are far too bare bones to be truly significant in fitting that bill. They sought to add more depth to the sequel’s offline venture involving Callie and Marie’s mysterious disappearance, but it’s more or less the same glorified tech demo designed to get you acclimated to the controls. Sure, it’s fairly amusing to play and the boss battles are creative, but its lasting appeal is rather limited when it feels like there aren’t a great deal of stakes at play. One of the advantages that Splatoon has over asymmetrical multiplayer shooters like Left 4 Dead is the base mechanics can WORK well on their own in a single player atmosphere. The mode in the two Splatoon games offered for those who who want to run solo always feels like you’ve bought merely half a game. Until now, that is…
The Nintendo Direct less than a week ago revealed what appears to be a pretty substantial story mode for Splatoon 2, and this looks to add that complete package to a game some may have avoided because of its limited offline content. While I firmly believe this should have been a part of the game initially, I’m optimistically curious about the prospects of fleshing out more of the Splatoon universe. Whether this campaign mode will delve deeper into the relationship between Inklings and Octarians will remain to be seen, this will aid in endearing more unique personalities from the Splatoon universe as well as establishing a protagonist to build a story around. I’m on record for not really being a huge fan of stories in video games. That doesn’t mean I’m 100% against them, they have their place in terms of instilling purpose behind the events that are transpiring, I just feel the things that are happening bear more for the characters in the game than for myself. That viewpoint may seem hypocritical, given my feelings for the base solo campaigns in the Splatoon games, but there’s a fine line between explaining the significance of a sequence of events and derailing gameplay altogether and presenting an interactive movie like Xenosaga or The Last of Us. There was a “cut scene” in Star Ocean: Until the End of Time where Maria Traydor drops her exposition on you. This scene goes uninterrupted for just a shade over TEN minutes. I consider that the video game equivalent of a Christopher Nolan film.
I would like to hope that this Octo Expansion has a degree of earnestness to it what it aims to establish. Splatoon doesn’t have to go all Bladerunner on me, I enjoy its cheeky, hip-hop cyberpunk attitude. It has the potential to tell a story with gravity to it the same way the Sonic the Hedgehog show on CBS (the SATam block) didn’t have to insult the intelligence of its younger audience while providing a good time. And the one time Splatoon attempted to add substance to anything is in the form of its manga of the same name, which less than 4 pages in went straight for a nudity joke. Not to go all PC police here, but this manga isn’t terrible BECAUSE it immediately goes for that low-brow style of comedy, rather its over reliance on the same joke in every chapter. You have spunky, lively beings like Inklings to work with, and the best the writers can come with for a manga is going to the overused, silverfish-infested basement of shonen satire? Suffice to say, Splatoon can do better than gags I’ve seen over 4000 times.
My feelings on the practice of making the expansion is a mildly different issue. The practice is less of a necessity and more of gaining profit. They didn’t HAVE to charge for finishing a game, but they know they can make some extra coin off it if they do. I’m not here to ridicule Nintendo for exercising a model that every other major game developing company has utilized, so as long as they don’t attempt to pull another greedy, penny-pinching stunt like Fire Emblem Fates Birthright/Conquest/Revelation (you edit dialogue OUT, but demand another $19.00? Are you insane!?), I’ll keep my wrath at bay for the time being. As more details unfold, it’s automatically a good reason to buy it, as it makes Splatoon 2 a more complete game, and its success/feedback could pay dividends for new Nintendo properties like ARMs to receive a similar treatment. Time will tell.