Team shooters are now one of the most popular genres in video games but provide something of a problem in family environments. Playing, either online or locally, against a group of your friends is brilliant fun but the vast majority of these games are 18 certificate and very violent with realistic graphics. Disappointingly I’ve already had to say no to our 8 year olds request to play games that his friends at school have been talking about, like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto 5 and Battlefield 4. The school has even gone as far as sending a letter home reminding parents that they should ensure that their children play age appropriate games. You can read my thoughts on the subject here.
The crying shame is the fun in the multi-player aspect of these games has nothing to do with the gore, realism or violence, instead it’s all to do with the fun of playing with or against your friends. IN other words, it’s the competition that’s fun and this isn’t really available to younger videogame players. Enter then Splatoon from Nintendo. I’ve played multi player games since the days of Doom, Quake and Unreal Tournament (through to Ghost Recon, Rainbow 6, Halo, Destiny and so on) but hand on heart I’ve not had as much fun since the days of Unreal Tournament. In some ways the smaller levels remind me of Quake 3- everything is compact and frenetic and so much fun as a result.
Obviously given the rating of the game, shooting your opponents isn’t the main aim of the game, instead you have to paint the floor your team colour. The winner is the team who paints the most of the arena their colour before the timer runs out. It sounds simple and at it’s heart Splatoon is but obviously there are complicating factors that add strategy and long term appeal to the game. You can shoot your opponents with paint, turn into a squid(!) to zoom over the playing area faster, creep up on other players and do loads of things but the emphasis is on doing it quickly. The kids have had a ball, and given how fast it all is, I must admit I’ve not always won when I’ve played against the boy and Fifi.
Splatoon is a perfect half an hour game- it’s one you don’t have to set aside hours to play and derive great fun out of. Yes, you can spend the entire evening (or rainy day) playing if you want to, or you get engrossed in the game, but today a lot of games have tutorial levels that take an hour or so to play through, so it is refreshing to pick something up you can just play.
Splatoon is available to buy now, and you can pick up a physical copy of the game for under £30 if you shop around.