Splatoon is a phenomenal 3rd person shooter# and truly a breath of fresh air in the genre. It puts you in the role of a fully customizable ‘inkling’, a tween with the power to morph into a squid (stay with me here), and challenges you to battle the Octarians to retrieve stolen Zapfish, the power source of Inkopolis. Yeah. It’s weird and it’s very Nintendo, and you can read a full review and explanation of the game over at Nintendo Life, my go to for all things Nintendo.

With that said, Splatoon is by no means perfect. While I agree with Alex Olney of Nintendo Life that it’s a solid 9 out of 10, there is so much room for improvement, a lot of which is necessary if Nintendo is going to capitalize on the much needed momentum Splatoon’s launch has created.

Here’s what Nintendo needs to add to make Splatoon one of the best shooters of this generation:

Inkling Free-for-all

I’m not sure if the Wii U or the server side technology that makes Splatoon work could handle this, but it would be a sight to see 8 inklings squaring off in a free-for-all, each using their own color ink. This might be a little too much data for the underpowered Nintendo Network to sync between 8 players, but if it’s possible it needs to happen. Heck, while we’re adding additional online game modes, it would be nice to have ‘capture the flag’ and some kind of ‘search and destroy’.#

splatoon jackson pollock


Voice Chat with Registered Friends

Nintendo is very careful about how and when it enables users to interact with each other online, which is of course one of the reason online games for Nintendo generally lack any kind of voice chat. I for one appreciate Nintendo’s cautious approach to online communication between its users, as it can get pretty tiresome to listen to men and boys of all ages tell me what they think about my sexual orientation or guessing at what my mother does for additional income down by the docks.

However, when it comes to intense and deeply strategic shooters, being able to chat with your friends would be a major plus and enhance the overall experience. This feature could easily have parental controls that ensured concerned parents still had the option to silence all communication if necessary. However, Nintendo Life had a chance to speak with Splatoon producer Hisashi Nogami about the lack of voice chat and what he said makes me think this feature might not happen for a very long time if it happens at all.

We want everyone to play this game from the same point, so that all players – those who haven’t played shooters before, as well as those who have – can enjoy the game. Getting to this though meant going through a selection process for all features that should appear in the game, and as part of this process we decided to leave out voice chat.

We think there are two reasons for wanting to use it: to play strategically, and to know what your opponent is feeling. We designed the game so that it’s still possible to play strategically, while also giving due consideration so that there is no extreme advantage one way or the other. In terms of knowing what your opponent is feeling, we really do understand the fun that can be had with this, but we hope that you will also understand that it can also have a negative effect too.


Invite-Only Matches

Splatoon’s public match-making system is both effective and efficient, aside from the occasional connection drops, and while some might be annoyed with the constant shuffling of teams, I’ve found it to be a great way to rebalance teams so one does not stay consistently stacked with the best players. It would be nice though, to invite 7 friends to a private lobby (complete with voice chat) and battle the same people over and over again to find out which of you is the most effective at splashing a map in colorful globs of ink.



Stats! Stats! Stats!

Like all successful shooters, Splatoon is a time suck and with hours upon hours of time spent in game decimating opposing teams with precision inkstrikes and sploodge canons, it would be nice to know what all that combat was adding up to. A simple list of metrics would be great: total gallons of ink unleashed, matches won/lost, Splat to Death ratio, favorite weapon, etc. Stats are fun and give us a chance to really take in how a player has expereinced a game over a long period of time.



More Notifications

It’s pleasing to get the notification that you just ‘splatted’ an opposing player with an inkzooka, but it would also be nice to know when your teammates went down for the count. Right now, unless you stare at the gamepad, you really have no way of knowing how a match is unfolding in other parts of the map. Shooters have been providing these global notifications for nealry two decades and players have grown accustomed to them and learned to use them for competitive intelligence.



Local Cooperative Gameplay

This last one might have to wait until Splatoon 2: Squids in Space (it could happen), but it would be nice to add a local co-op mode that let you and a friend battle the Octarians together. A second inkling in play or a dedicated support role using the Gamepad to drop air strikes and provide other assistance would add a much needed layer of complexity to the single player experience. Also, it would mean you wouldn’t have to fight as hard for control of the living room.



Prior to Splatoon’s launch, most news about Nintendo included some doom and gloom around the Wii U’s sales performance or complete guesses about whether or not their upcoming NX platform would be a sell-out move that would finally put Mario on mobile devices.

While much of this news and speculation is often fair, as Nintendo has had some ‘hiccups’ in this generation, Nintendo’s newest franchise has made a huge inky splash in the gaming world. Splatoon’s success and innovation in a long standing genre is undeniable, and with only a few slight tweaks, it could solidify its spot as one of the best games of this console generation.