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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Splatoon Global Testfire Impressions

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Ludwig maintains that Splatoon is incredible.

Did you play Nintendo's Splatoon over the weekend? If you have a Wii U and you didn't try it even once, you're either totally unaware of what's going on with Nintendo (meaning you haven't been reading KoopaTV since we made sure you knew about it), you don't have a stable Internet connection, you're a bad person, or you work or something on Saturdays (which the Lord specifically said not to do). 

But for the rest of us, the Splatoon Global Testfire was amazing. AND I played all three times! And I want more. So does everyone else. But I'll have to wait until May 29th at the earliest, since that's when the game comes out and it's unlikely Nintendo will have further demos.

Why did Nintendo have this Testfire and why set it up like this? Nintendo did what a lot of other companies already do: They wanted to conduct a stress-test for their servers and double it as a marketing stunt. And by my experience, the stress-test succeeded. However, they needed to test it at all points in the day, hence why there were three tests: One for each part of the world (North America, Europe, Japan) separated by 7 hours. With the test itself being 1 hour, that's all 24 hours covered. 

They also needed the test to be concentrated and stacked with a ton of people, so they had a very limited one-hour time period. If it was three hours or the whole weekend then people might not have been so eager to play at the first minute the test opened until the last minute for it to close.

That also had the side effect of leaving behind a great impression to people that finding rooms of 7 other folks was very easy. That's what happens when everyone with a Wii U is trying to play the game. I doubt that Splatoon will ever have that many players playing it all at once ever again, since the barrier to entry this time was free. Next time it's $60.

Update: Nintendo press-release out. There will be a FOURTH ROUND of the Splatoon Global Testfire! 3-4 PM Pacific, which is 6-7 PM Eastern and 11 PM to 12 AM UK time.

People thought they'd just be placed on the battlefield without knowing the controls, but you got a skippable tutorial instead every time you started up the Testfire.

Speaking of controls, a ton of people are very unobservant.

Splatoon Global Testfire choose a weapon screenshot
People didn't press + to turn motion controls off if they wanted to.
Image courtesy of TheRapture.

I enjoyed the gyro controls, though. They don't make much sense if you're a Splat Roller, but you can adjust 'em to your sensitivity and you only need to make subtle, intuitive movements to move your camera/reticle around. You can move both left-to-right and up-to-down with the GamePad gyro controls. I found myself leaning towards using the right-stick for the horizontal movement at the beginning, though, and a bit equal usage later on. It seemed arbitrary as to what I used and when, just whatever I felt like.

error code 106-0311 Nintendo Wii U Splatoon unable to connect to server
“Error Code: 106-0311
Unable to connect because the server has reached its connection limit and cannot accept anymore connections at this time. Please try again later.”

Besides the first three minutes of the first playtest, I never had any issues getting onto the server during the Testfire and finding players. And wait-time between matches to find players was actually appreciated, since I was on my 3DS's Miiverse to discuss in a chat thread on there about my live-experience. But I could and did also play the 8-bit "Squid Jump" game (on the GamePad), which graphically resembles Ice Climber. The goal is to get your squid to the very top of the space by jumping on platforms and then touching the bird (some claim it's a fish) up top. If you take too long, the place will flood or something and you die.

I can't prove it, but at the end of the 3rd Global Testfire, I reached Stage 8. What helped me out were two tips: You can charge your jump while in the air from a previous jump, and moving across the screen's horizontal borders pops you out the other side of the screen. Of course, tip 1 might actually work against you if you're not careful: Fully-charging your jump will result in you wasting precious time flying above the platform instead of landing exactly on it, which can waste time as the bottom is flooding.

Splatoon Squid Jump minigame GamePad
The time it takes for the squid to land wastes time.
He can't fully-charge from the bottom platform to the top, only the middle.

The music is still awesome. There is an "alternate" stage track that sounds like something from No More Heroes 2, so that's always sweet.

Sound effects are great too, especially the Inkling cries and the shots of ink.

Some dudes think the Splatroller (Spla Troller?) weapon is overpowered. It's not. It's exactly as I said it was in the Splatoon Direct live reaction log.

 Nintendork 13 13 10:12 am
    Roller is like
    the Little Mac
    of weapons.
And that means it's easy to use, great on land, but splatters out very easily and sucks at shooting in the air. My favourite weapon was the Splattershot Jr., no relation to Bowser Jr.. I don't like the regular Splattershot as much (I like the higher rate of fire the smaller one has), and I don't like the Charger very much. Playing the Sniper was never my style, and it seems more proficient at splattering other players than covering ink. In terms of covering land, the Splatroller and Splattershot Jr. are the best. Splattershot Jr. also has the Bubble special weapon. Part of the game isn't just the land, but you also wanna ink up the walls, especially for some of the stage objects where you can swim up walls if they're inked to get to higher ground. Splatroller can't do that.

I liked Walleye Warehouse more than Saltspray Rig, but they are both well-designed maps. I didn't get bored of either of them, and I think that the five maps Splatoon comes with (with free additional maps as DLC post-launch) will be enough if the others are as well-designed or better. You don't need quantity to be satisfied. Splatoon maps, of course, take a lot more effort to make than most stages in Super Smash Bros. 4, though Sakurai says the Orbital Gate Assault stage took an entire year to make.

Does Splatoon need voice chat? No. However, it would be nice if there were after-match ways of communicating with players, like Super Smash Bros. For Wii U does with player tags in For Glory lobbies that you can change at whim and other players can see them in real-time. Then there can be some sort of interaction with other players so they don't feel like soulless robots or CPUs. It makes the play more socially meaningful in Smash For Wii U (not available in the 3DS version), so it would make Splatoon more meaningful as well.

Super Smash Bros. For Wii U For Glory Team Battle lobby character selection screen wifi online name tags communication
I personally have tags like "GG" and "Howdy!".
From Salty Spitune. (Sounds like Splatoon, so relevant.)

All in all, I'm very impressed by the Splatoon Global Testfire demo. So impressed, that I did something I really didn't expect to do: I pre-ordered the game at Best Buy. Yeah. I wanna make sure I got my copy. As soon as possible. I just can't wait.

Oh, and for a differing opinion, RawkHawk2010 says that he's had enough of Splatoon and that it should have Kirby Air Ride-esque random events to spice the three-minute matches up. I think he's impatient.

Ludwig would like to apologise for publishing this article so late, but he hopes to continue the Splatoon hype along. He is a registered member at Squidboards, the forum dedicated to fostering the Splatoon community. He also was in their beta forum. 

Splatoon Global Testfire is running again for the fourth and final time!
Splatoon Global Testfire is running again for the fifth, sixth, seventh, and final time!
Splatoon Global Testfire is running again for the eighth, nineth, tenth, eleventh, and final time!
The Global Testfire series is now moving to Splatoon 2!
KoopaTV provides a Splatoon 2 Global Testfire impressions article here.

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