This is the most convicted I feel about any single game’s placement. Splatoon is, for all intents and purposes, the best multiplayer game I’ve ever played. Everything above it on my list is there for its single player content. And that’s not a knock against the solo campaign here, which is quite clever and certainly worth the playtime (especially for the climatic showdown at the end!). But that mode alone is not what made this game so special. It’s the mechanics coupled with the camaraderie the multiplayer so expertly blends together.
Splatoon takes the third person shooter into novel directions. Your Inkling can shoot ink (which damages opponents of a rival color), toss specialized bombs, launch Specials once the meter is maxed, jump, and transform into an alternate squid form that can swim faster in your team’s ink and potentially lurk in ambush for your foes. While blasting your rival Inklings is still a crucial part of the gameplay, there isn’t a single mode where that is the ultimate goal of a match. Instead, there’s the unranked Turf War, where covering the ground with your team’s ink is the way to win, while Ranked spin common multiplayer modes like Capture the Flag (Rainmaker) and King of the Hill (Splat Zones) into this ink-drenched world of combat. And it’s bloody brilliant. And teaming up with friends IS THE BEST. There have been so many legendary moments I’ve shared with some friends (shout outs to my forum buddies!) in this game to even try to document. Yesterday I was playing Tower on my own and managed to sweep the entire rival team by myself in two seconds. Four splats. It was amazing. And this game lets you relive moments like that again and again and again. Add in an incredibly appealing visual and aural aesthetic, responsive controls and great map design and you’ve managed to picture the nigh-perfect world of Splatoon.
And now we get to why I am having some quibbles placing it on my list. You see, I think I should consider it even higher than 9th place. But despite a few small problems (occasionally the camera gets locked into bad spots that hamper you; Splat Zones is a bit dull and too easy to dominate at higher level play; your squid form sometimes doesn’t latch onto your ink like you want) and a desire for even more customization options, the real rub is the impending sequel that will effectively mark this as obsolete in a few months. All of the good memories will become that; recollections of a past time. Nintendo will shut the servers down some day. And while solo is, as I said earlier, more than serviceable…it is not the meat of this game. So at some point Splatoon will shrink away from my list (hopefully to make room for the sequel?), and I can’t justify it being better than the games currently ranked above it right now. But that’s okay. I still obviously adore it!
To revisit my earlier picks, check out this tag.