Splatoon 2 – Top 10 Tips to be the Freshest Squid in Town!

With the release of Splatoon 2 on the inky horizon, here is a compiled list of the top ten tips to be the best in preparation for all this fantastic shooter has to offer. Without further ado:

Tip 1 – Find Your Weapon of Choice

This can be quite a difficult one in the early game because you’ll most likely be inking turf using a splattershot of some form, but will really help in the later stages of the online, competitive scene. Try to experiment with all the weapons available, whether that be a slosher, a roller or even a blaster. Always attempt to change something if it isn’t fitting your playstyle and don’t be afraid to try something completely different, but try to do this within the confines of turf war matches that don’t hinder your ranks. Within the new game mode Salmon Run, you will also be able to choose from a variety of weapon types so never be hesitant to try them out. If there’s a particular sub weapon (such as the splat bombs, toxic mist, point sensors) then find the weapon you like that also has them attached, as well as your special weapons. Try everything and find the weapon of your choice.

Tip 2 – Use Crusty Sean’s Meal Tickets

To those of you who aren’t familiar with the work of Crusty Sean in Splatoon 2, he is the lobster creature in the van from the original game. He essentially provides meal tickets to boost the experience points and currency earned in battle, which can prove to be especially helpful in the early stages of the game. This may require some work in the single player beforehand, but it’s more than worth the investment. 

Tip 3 – Consider Motion Controls

This is something that may not be appreciated by everyone, that’s completely understandable. However, Splatoon 2’s primary controller option is the use of motion controls to aim your reticle to ink the turf, which has been proven to be ever so slightly more responsive and accurate than the standard analog sticks. That’s not to say that you couldn’t play absolutely happily and perfectly with analog sticks – some of the best players still do – but it can put you at a slight disadvantage so always keep your mind open to motion controls. Give it a go, see of it is the playstyle you prefer and progress from there. Always, always, always keep an open mind.

Tip 4 – Don’t Rush Into Battle

A fairly self explanatory tip, but a crucial one nonetheless. Many players enter the world of Inkopolis Square with the aim of winning matches, believing that the only way of doing such is to play an offensive strategy. This, however, can be counter intuitive. While it can push your opposition back into their safety zone, it can most certainly leave you open to any incoming attacks if you’re disconnected from your team’s efforts in battle. Don’t rush into a decision, try to scan your terrain and analyse the situation before committing to anything. The last thing you want is for your team to be handicapped because of your premature decisions.

Tip 5 – Always Ink Your Surroundings

This applies to all game modes available, but seems most fitting for the ranked matches. Whereas in Turf War, inking is an absolute priority, this is not the case in ranked matches necessarily. It is all about completing the objective – from riding a tower to a destination or covering a particular zone in your colour. This does not mean, however, that inking is unnecessary and doesn’t need to be thought of. If you ink your surroundings, you’re pushing your enemies further away and also making it particularly easy to access larger parts of the map. Make sure to ink when you have the spare time available.

Tip 6 – Don’t Blame Your Teammates for Your Loss

As something that regularly happened within the original game, it comes as no surprise that this will most likely be a feature of people’s temperment coming into the sequel. If you lose a match, it is a collective effort, just as if you won a match. It could be argued that there are stronger players that will dominate in particular matches, but that does not mean that one person carried the team. This shows that one person helped to lead, while the others helped to pave the way for that success. Even if you’re particularly competitive, don’t be a sore loser and blame the rest of your team for the failures you made as a collective group. 

Tip 7 – Play Salmon Run Whenever Available

As a completely new mode, Salmon Run provides a horde mode experience similar to that of many other shooters. Where this differs is that you will get particular rewards, such as new items of exclusive clothing and Crusty Sean meal tickets, for playing and succeeding in this mode. This really gives a great incentive to join the Grizzco team and get splatting those Salmonid creatures. If you see it available to play, be sure to at least check it out.

Tip 8 – Predict Your Allies and Enemies

If you’re not playing alongside friends, voice chatting is not an option so being able to predict the movements and thoughts of your allies and enemies really is a professional skill in this game. Always be aware of the map (by pressing X), where the colour is changing and where your teammates are positioned on the map. It is absolutely crucial to understand the patterns of their playstyle in order to be able to implement your own style. As you progress further in the game and begin to invest time into the online scene, you will become more accustomed to this behaviour to a point that it will become somewhat second nature. If you can predict your enemies, you can always outsmart them in battle.

Tip 9 – Conserve Ink and Know When You’re Fighting a Losing Battle

This is possibly the most important. Try to keep your ink tank relatively high at all times and try to avoid it being completely used, otherwise you will be spending too much time waiting for a refill than actually doing your inking duties. If it helps your playstyle, equip clothing that has the ability of Ink Saver so that you can conserve your ink even more efficiently. In addition, always know when to retreat. You should know that some battles can’t be won and that no matter how much you try, it would only result in an equalising splat at best – a near pointless endeavour. Try to avoid these incidents unless you are confident that you have what it takes to initiate against your enemy. All this could culminate in a faster special weapon and even higher points.

Tip 10 – Have Fun!

I can’t stress this one enough. When playing this game, have fun! Don’t take it all too seriously. There are a plentitude of options to play casually – be that the single player campaign or the turf war online matches – so there should be very little time where you want to turn off the system or worse. Just relax, enjoy the experience and have fun with it.

Well, there are all ten top tips for those of you preparing for the release of Splatoon 2. Which one was your favourite? Until next time, I shall see you on the battlefields!

Nintendo Switch Online App – How Does it Work?

For those of you wondering, the Nintendo Switch Online app is now available to download on both the Google Play Store and Apple Store ahead of the release of Splatoon 2 on July 21st. It has remained an enigma as to how this app was ever going to function, until this point in time where we have finally gotten some concrete evidence.

This app will function in a way that enables Switch owners to voice chat with friends on particular games – though it will only be available on Splatoon 2 at launch – and invite them into game lobbies using a smart device. It will also allow for players to access their in game statistics, character attire and enable them to purchase clothing using their virtual currency to send to their Switch when they open up the game, all exclusively to the sub section of the app ‘Splatnet 2’. This is a really interesting and innovative idea, especially the ability to access Splatoon data when away from your system, but is it a practical solution or is it a convoluted mess that makes a simple feature feel tedious?

Well, it’s a bit of both. For some aspects, most notably the divergence of power and battery drainage away from the Switch, this really makes it a practical solution that feels both original and genuinely intriguing. However, the fact that your smart device has to be turned on at all times and cannot be multitasked with becomes quite a hard pill to swallow. This added onto the somewhat complicated requirements and extensive use of wires just to voice chat – not that many players actually use it – just has to make you wonder why you wouldn’t choose a better, more desirable version of a similar app like Discord or even Skype. When there are many better alternatives, it becomes all the more difficult to accept the whole package that this particular app provides, especially considering the momentum Nintendo has been developing with their fantastic marketing and sales of the Switch. 

One thing has to be considered, however. This app is not the final, conclusive version; there will be many updates and revisions before the paid service releases next year. This means that there is still a lot of time for improvement and development in this area. Similarly to how the Switch was rather barebones at launch, this app looks to provide a temporary solution for the online heavy Splatoon 2 release. They’ve even added a suggestions and feedback area in the app, so it shows that Nintendo are looking to hear from the players to help get this application to its fullest potential. 

Though, the fact still remains that this app is a rather complicated endeavour for the simplicity that should be voice chat and messaging with friends. Ever since they announced that voice chat would be accessed via an online application, it appeared as though they were trying to dismiss too much conversation or updates about it, showing that their confidence in this area may not be of equal standards as the Switch itself. Either way, only time will tell how well this app goes in near future and beyond. 
Thank you for reading this. Stay tuned for a Splatoon 2 review tomorrow, on launch day! 

Arms (Nintendo Switch) Review – A Fighter That Hits It’s Target

We’re only four months into the life of the Nintendo Switch, yet it appears that it is off to a particularly strong start with the heavy hitting Intellectual Properties of Zelda, Mario Kart and soon to be Splatoon, but that doesn’t mean that Nintendo doesn’t have a few more tricks up their sleeve. Arms is the new three dimensional fighter, where you use extendable varieties of arms in order to grab, block and punch your way to victory. While it sometimes feels like it lacks more game modes, the fact that there will be free updates of modes, characters, arms and stages really makes this an appealing compromise. As a completely new, exclusive Switch title, this game blemishes in its originality and accessibility for all audiences, making it another must buy for the system.

As you may have guessed, the spotlight shines on the excellent variety of arms – whether you choose the heavy Megaton, the three shot Revolver, the electrical homing missile Sparkies or any of the other great combinations. On top of this, each weapon is assigned a particular status effect, such as stunning or blinding your enemies when charged. This adds an even deeper layer to an already strategic game, making each and every single combination unique in their own way. As you begin to develop a sense of playstyle and tactical strategy, you will start understanding which arms work in correspondence with your character of choice. If you’re looking for depth and a form of competitive gaming, these features enhance the overall experience and make this fighter particularly engaging and addictive. 

In regards to game modes, this game is rather standard and typical of a fighter, as is the roster size. While there are some particularly interesting and innovative ideas evident within some of these modes, like the Volleyball and Hoops games that have similar principals to the core gameplay, but they are few and far between. Most of the time you will be playing the one on one matches, but it is nice to have the option to play alongside others in Skillshot, Hedlok Scramble and all the other great modes available – however limited as the list may be. It’s all about having the option, the ability to play whatever game modes you want when you want. If you want to play a four player match in the same room, you can. If you’re looking to play online with a friend at home, you can both get a chance of playing. For those of you looking for a competitive environment, you can try your luck at the Ranked Matches section. This game has so many different ways to play that, even if the game modes are somewhat limited and become slightly repetitive over time, it becomes particularly interesting and addictive to play. 

On the topic of playing in different ways, the controller functionality allows you to play in many varieties that support your style, whether that be casual or hardcore. If you’re on a journey away from home, you can still play with your friend on the same system – using a single joycon each. The controls work just as well, albeit a little smaller and a little less accessible, and really doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment that this game provides. You can also play with the improved motion controls that similarly work effectively, or even a standard Pro Controller for those looking to execute every punch, dodge and grab correctly. There’s such great accessibility here that it encourages you to have a quick game here and there, once again reinforcing this game’s fun factor and addictive nature.

The online is particularly smooth, as is the overall performance of the game. Running at a constant 60 frames per second and 1080p resolution when docked, this game runs as great as it looks. There are very few times that you will experience connectivity issues, although they still appear every once in a while, and there can be up to twenty players in a single lobby. They cater towards all audiences with this online too, focusing on the casual audience with the Party Match lobbies and concentrating on the hardcore gamers with the Ranked Match mode.  It’s a really strong sign for competitive online gaming in the future and it shows that Nintendo are carefully anticipating this movement for the years to come.

In conclusion, Arms provides an experience unlike most other games of its genre. Not only does it perform at a fluently smooth consistent framerate, it also has a particularly solid online experience that accommodates for all members of the family. While it may lack more concrete game modes, the replay value is truly remarkable and the constant feeling of achievement through getting arms for particular characters continues to make this game fresh and compelling. Its excellent accessibility in both controller management and quick matches makes this a very strong start to a brand new IP from Nintendo. Arms punches its way to the top!

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Review – The Legend Returns…

This review contains mild spoilers.

After nearly five years of development, from Zelda Wii U to the title Breath of the Wild, this open air game rekindles the nostalgic flame that most Nintendo lovers were yearning for so badly. Taking place one hundred years after the event of Link’s death, this tale brings a post-apocalyptic and menacingly dark atmosphere alongside a classic story many have been so accustomed to over the years: saving the princess. In its raw essence, Breath of the Wild acts similarly to its predecessors in regards to storytelling and the concept of progression through dungeons. This game, however, attempts – and succeeds on many occasions – to reinnovate and adapt the franchise to the current, more western audiences. Whether it be the concept of an open world style game that boasts hours of exploration with shrines – acting as mini dungeons for increasing health and stamina gauges – or even the survival based aspects of cooking food to restore hearts and hunting, this game truly is a breath of fresh air.

This game is a quest for self confidence and longing, a journey to find your identity and piece together the events of many years gone and – by doing so – emphasises the importance of exploration. From the moment Link steps out of the Shrine of Resurrection, you are plunged into a barbaric, relentless world with only a worn set of clothing and a technological tablet known as the ‘sheikah slate’. At first you will be sneaking around some enemies, but as you acquire more powerful weapons and better, upgradable armour sets it becomes clearer that you are wanting to engage in battle. In many ways, this game takes the concept of open world exploration and blossoms as you become addicted in searching through every last foot of Hyrule, finding every last Korok seed or completing every last shrine to claim bragging rights against friends. After over 100 hours of immersion, it is safe to say that the exploration in Breath of the Wild brings a light to the Zelda franchise that hasn’t been as visible since the days of Ocarina. 

One issue that becomes persistent, however, when exploring is the near constant need to change weapons due to weapon durability being a key feature of the battle mechanics. While this provides very interesting scenarios of picking particular weapons for purpose – such as throwing a nearly broken woodcutter’s axe to deal double damage on the enemy or using a spear when on horseback to catch Bokoblin’s much easier – and it enables you to move out of a particular comfort zone of only using one set weapon, it can get a little tedious when you’re in the midst of battle and you’re having to keep switching weapons with every few hits dealt. It’s a concept that some people would like and others would dislike, although the latter feeling tends to lessen as more weapons becoming available later in the game.

As Zelda games have always done, Breath of the Wild was no exception in the field of dungeons and storyline. In this game, the dungeons were formed as four ‘divine beasts’ – somewhat monolithic, robotic beings that were controlled by the great, poisonous Calamity Ganon – that you would have to enter and defeat in order to severely weaken Ganon later in the game. These dungeons, while short, really showed just how much thought the creative team put into this. As much as themed dungeons, such as the familiar fire and water temples, would have been a particularly nice homage to the predecessors, this game provides a new experience that felt fresh and unique. Being able to pilot some elements of these beasts to suit the requirements of the puzzles really made these dungeons interesting. They were shorter than normal and the dungeon bosses were largely the same – being different forms of Ganon – but that didn’t matter too much because it wasn’t the true focus of the game; the open air environment was.

In regards to the storytelling, it was choppy at times with the flashbacks that missed elements of the narrative, but it also felt very much an underappreciated touch of brilliance. To think that you are acting as Link, a character that has been asleep in stasis for one hundred years, and playing in his perspective. He will never have a fully clear understanding of exactly what happened all those years ago, only the significant parts will stick in his memory. We are only seeing the most important aspects of his journey, and how his sleep has cast his memories far away. Zelda’s characterisation was some of the most memorable in many years, now a fully fledged character of intelligence and bravery with the doubt of the goddess Hylia looming over her. Despite the sometimes shaky voice acting, her portrayal was an incredibly intriguing and mysterious one that once again changed the relationship between herself and Link. The four champions each provided a very colourful performance and felt as though they had a unique voice, particularly the Rito tribe’s Revali and his cynicism towards the hero. While Breath of the Wild’s storytelling isn’t the best of the series, it is still an element that holds well in the spotlight that is the open world environment. 
The music and overall atmosphere of the game was mellow and peaceful, mirroring the post-apocalyptic and deserted vibes that were presented visually. There were some fantastic pieces, such as the climatic finale Hyrule Castle score and the recreated, broken down version of the Temple of Time. However, if you’re expecting a score of excitement and anticipation, this soundtrack is not as pleasant. With the element of the wild and nature playing such a significant role in the game, the soundtrack  hinders slightly and makes you feel like there could have been something a little more robust and adrenaline rushing, but it was a bit of a missed opportunity. Obviously this makes perfect sense as to why they left such pieces out in favour of the slower, more melodic soundtrack, but there was still some room to question if more was needed in this particular aspect.

Onto the finale, the climatic battle against the Calamity Ganon. After draining tens of hours looking at a screen, it all came down to this moment. Hyrule Castle was one thing, but meeting Ganon in the Sanctum was both an unexpected and surprisingly exciting feeling. It was the moment you’d been waiting for, ever since the old King of Hyrule had told you to ‘annihilate him’. The overall design of Calamity Ganon was fantastic – a robotic mechanical arachnid like creature with a laser arm, an Guardian axe, a flame exo-skeleton and the familiar facial hair associated with Ganondorf. It was truly a pleasant battle and a satisfying conclusion when you eventually landed the final blow, but that was not where it ended. After such a magnificently brilliant conclusion, the Calmity Ganon became the Dark Beast Ganon and this was where it lost its interest. Not only was this battle a bit too simplistic – focusing only on shooting a few arrows into specific areas on horseback – but it also didn’t feel too consequential. It is clear that this was intended more as a cinematic finale than a fully fledged, immersive battle, but after the excellent ending that was the revenge driven duel against Calamity Ganon this was difficult to really justify. 
There were some minor performance issues on the Nintendo Switch, where the game would slow to a little under the 30 frames per second mark at particularly particle effect heavy areas. This, however, is something that may be changed later in an update or patch in the future, so it is difficult to penalise the game on this particular aspect.

In conclusion, Breath of the Wild introduces a completely new audience to the Zelda franchise while staying true to its nostalgic roots. Not only did it provide geniusly crafted developments and innovations for the series – from stamina gauges, heart recovering food, weapon durability and many more – but it also gave this game an individual voice that truly stands out from the rest. Yes, the soundtrack had a little to be desired in regards to exciting tracks and the finale may not have been as climatic and enjoyable as it could have been, but the fact that Breath of the Wild gets all the other things near flawlessly right shows that it is a game to be heralded as one of the greatest this year.​