Splatoon 2 (Switch) Review

Don’t Get Cooked!

Splatoon is truly the little engine that could. One of Nintendo’s newer franchises, debuting in 2015 on the Wii U, this third-person ink shooter took the world by storm. Though I wasn’t keen on the original game at first glance, it’s easy to see why it became a hit, especially in Japan: hip and colorful characters, regular free updates, and a focus on splatting turf instead of merely shooting others. Only two years later, Splatoon 2 brings the squid kids back to shore. As with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it plays very closely to the original but brands itself as a sequel. There are a few enjoyable new bells and whistles, but some baffling decisions keep this sequel from being more than a modest upgrade.

Check out the fresh Video Version here!

Splatoon 2’s main multiplayer mode, Turf War, provides largely the same experience as its predecessor. You’re matched into a team of four Inkling kids armed with ink shooters, rollers, brushes, and other weapons, all sharing one goal: paint the town. In each three minute round, you must cover more ground with your ink color than your opponents. I’m not a fan of shooters at all, but the notion of using weapons to claim turf instead of solely blasting others, has made me an unlikely fan. Adding to the uniqueness of this unorthodox paintball game, you can transform into a squid to swiftly swim in your own ink and perform super jumps across the map to assist your teammates. The loss of the Wii U GamePad’s second screen inevitably means that checking the map and super jumping will obstruct your view. But it’s worth it for the opportunity to use the more refined gyro control of the compact Switch controllers for precision aiming.

Splatoon 2 Review Nintendo Switch Inkopolis Square
Soak in the sights of Inkopolis Square.

Turf War’s gameplay is as fun as ever, even if it doesn’t feel fresh. An assortment of new stages and weapons keeps the game from feeling like a total retread. Some stage layouts are a bit dull and blend together, with the exception of the curvy Humpback Pump Track and the returning vertical Moray Towers. The new Splat Dualies, which let you dual-wield shooters and roll around the battlefield, are fun to use. More importantly, join a large stable of weapon types, complementing different playstyles. Subweapons and game-changing special attacks that are paired to each unique weapon substantially differentiate the firearms.

I rarely had any issues with the online. The game ran inky smooth at a constant 60fps with barely any lag. You’ll likely be disappointed to know that there is once again no voice chat in-game, which is unfortunate, given the reliance on teamwork. There’s something resembling a solution thanks to the Switch Online App for phones, which allows for voice chat in a specific private friend lounge. It’s a very restrictive option, though.

Splatoon 2 Review Nintendo Switch Turf War
Paint the town

The issues surrounding the online lobbies are more problematic. You essentially have to choose whether you want to play with a group of friends or play regular online mode for bonuses at the sacrifice of matchmaking control. Private lobbies let you experience the former, letting you choose anything from gameplay mode to teams. But since you don’t earn the experience points and coins that are necessary to earn ability-granting gear and nifty weapons, you’ll likely mostly play regular online battles. You can join a friend currently playing, but you can’t choose teams, so you’re still likely to get paired with three random players against your friend. To make matters worse, you can’t switch weapons in the lobby, so you’d have to leave and rejoin. I’d love if we could play in teams with friends to face random opponents. The team-oriented League Battle is the closest to that vision, but it’s also locked behind ranking high in Ranked Mode.

Speaking of which, Ranked Mode is home to three wildly different and more exciting 4v4 battle styles. Splat Zones is a more localized version of Turf War, making it more intensive. Tower Control is a “tug-of-war” game where you must ride a tower safely back to your base. This version adds checkpoints, in which the tower is forced to a temporary stop to help the other team catch up – a welcome addition. Rainmaker, a variation on “capture the flag” and my favorite of the bunch, pits your team in a race to get the titular powerful weapon and bring it to the opposing team’s base. I enjoyed the madcap back-and-forth and the tense rushes to the finish while blasting foes with the Rainmaker. These modes weren’t in the launch version of the first Splatoon, so having them on day one boosts the overall starting package.

Splatoon 2 Review Nintendo Switch Ranked Mode Tower Control
Ranked mode is full of heated duels and amazing comebacks.

As great as these ranked playstyles are, the windows to play each mode are restricted. The game rotates which of the three games you can play every two hours, during which time you cannot play the other styles. Though the schedules are a slight improvement over the original game’s four hour rotation, it’s disappointing for players who simply want to enjoy a specific mode. These limitations also apply to the stages; you can only play the same two stages every two hours, which has the adverse effect of making matches feel repetitive. At least in Splatoon 2, you aren’t constantly interrupted anytime maps and modes are updated, though you are still kicked out into the main hub no matter where you are.

Most of what I’ve mentioned thus far were all eventually part of the first Splatoon, albeit with minor changes. The one truly original game mode is Salmon Run, and it’s a blast. Unlike everything else, it’s a challenge between your four-man group and wave after wave of Salmonids, creepy fishlike creatures that rush after you as in a horror flick. Your ultimate objective is to amass a quota of golden eggs by defeating a set of bosses, all with their own unique attack patterns and weak spots. Taking down one gigantic steel fish who throws explosive ink bombs may be doable, but facing that alongside a huge steel eel dripping toxic ink is an absolute rush. There were numerous times when my group couldn’t make it past the final wave of Boss Salmonids. But when we reigned supreme, I couldn’t help but fist pump out of pure thrill from our excellent comradery.

Splatoon 2 Review Nintendo Switch Salmon Run Wave Clear.jpg
Enter the surprisingly bleak grisly world of Salmon Run.

Salmon Run is my new favorite experience for the series, but it comes with one of the worst limitations. The mode is only playable at very specific times that are up to Nintendo’s discretion. It’s a pointless restriction that holds the game back; it’s the only original mode, and yet there are entire days when I can’t play it. I hope this limitation eventually gets resolved, because I’d love to freely enjoy it. Note that you can play Salmon Run and all other multiplayer modes in local play at all times, but only if everyone supplies their own game and console. Yeah…

Last but certainly not least, Splatoon 2’s single-player is solid as ever, essentially taking the multiplayer gameplay and creating a solo action platformer. This new set of nearly 30 levels acts as a Super Mario Galaxy 2-esque expansion pack, trading novelty for tighter design. I’m not making a haphazard comparison to Galaxy either; it may not be as magical as Mario’s Wii masterpieces, but it features inspired linear platforming and stage elements, like its absorbent expanding sponges and ink rails. The overall campaign is longer too, sitting at about six to eight hours, with the challenge ramping up immensely for the final few worlds and bosses. I’ve always found Splatoon’s story mode underrated, and I’m ecstatic that Nintendo put in the time to make another fully-featured story mode.

Splatoon 2 Review Nintendo Switch Octo Canyon Single Player.jpg
Don’t overlook Splatoon 2’s single-player.

Splatoon 2 oozes with charm, literally; I can almost feel the ink splashing off the screen. The inklings are as adorable as ever, and the new Squid Sister replacements are already notoriously popular. The game is just as bright and sharp on the Switch handheld, even with a lower resolution compared to docked mode. The blend between hip rock and squeaky vocals continue to give the game its cool identity.

Splatoon 2 Switch Review Off the Hook.jpg
And remember: Don’t get cooked… Stay off the hook!

Conclusion

If you were a fan of the original Splatoon and want more out of it, there’s no question that the sequel is for you. It’s more fully-featured off the bat than the first game was at launch, and the new modes help prevent the experience from getting old too quickly. My main gripes revolve around the limitations Nintendo has placed around friend matchmaking and mode availability. Why can’t I form teams with friends against randoms? Why can’t I play Salmon Run online anytime? These are big questions that have no satisfying answers, and I hope that the free updates resolve some of these issues. And perhaps the free DLC and worldwide Splatfest competitions can provide much needed doses of novelty. Still, if you’re like many that missed this experience on Wii U, then the addictive ink-splatting action more than outweighs the game’s limitations. Splatoon 2 may not have stayed fresh, but it’s still off the hook!

Score: 8/10

Version 1.0 of Splatoon 2 was used for this review.

What are your thoughts of Splatoon and/or Splatoon 2? Does Splatoon 2 do enough to stay fresh? Is Salmon Run off the hook? What’s your favorite mode? Please share any thoughts or questions you have in the comments below! Thanks for watching and reading!

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46 thoughts on “Splatoon 2 (Switch) Review

  1. Excellent review! I got excited about seeing Splatoon 2 come out in full force. I love the design of the inkling squ/kids. I miss the original squid sisters but these new ones are OK too. Salmon run is very exciting and frenetic to watch. It is a shame that the online features are restricted. There’s probably a technical reason (I hope) but they should really fix that. The music is great as always and I’m a sucker for bright, bold colors. The sequel is “off the hook” indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review. It feels like a really safe sequel, but more of the same fun the first offered. I wish Nintendo wasn’t hamstringing their own game with some of these rotation decisions. I still need to try Salmon Run but I’m looking forward to doing so when me and Nintendo can agree on a time 😛

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    1. Thanks a lot man! I appreciate your kind words and comments! It’s indeed a safe sequel. I didn’t get too into the first Splatoon because the updates came late into its life cycle, and I’m pretty sure I had moved on to some 3DS games by that point. So comparing the launches, it’s at least more solid. But I agree that they could have done more. If Salmon Run were always playable and they put even more into it, I would have a blast playing that mode alone. But alas, I keep missing the time periods, so I haven’t actually played it since last weekend. I’d love to play with you sometime! 😀

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  3. I originally wasn’t considering getting the switch but with Splatoon 2 plus BoTW and the possibility of fun future games, Im thinking more and more on buying one. Great write-up and video version of the review

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! That means a lot to me!! 😀 The Switch has somehow become such a fun machine so fast. I wasn’t expecting to juggle between all these Switch games, to be honest. Early on, I thought it would just be be BotW. Now, I’m having a lot of fun with Splatoon 2, and I was only a casual fan of the first game. If you pick up the Switch sometime, I’d love to play any games with you! Thanks again! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I was only a casual fan of the first Splatoon, which only had a fraction of the content that Splatoon 2 on day one has. Turns out all that added content at once makes for a fun multiplayer experience. I think my biggest issue with the limitations besides not getting to play my own game when I want, is that I don’t understand the reasoning. I believe there are enough people playing the game, especially in Japan, that they could have all modes concurrently running so that people could enjoy what they want. Ah well. Game will probably do well regardless, haha. Thanks for your comments! 🙂

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  4. Good review! I was kind of surprised to see how high the score was though, a lot of the review felt pretty negative. But I guess that goes to show just how much you liked Salmon Run and the single player! Personally, I’ve been obsessed with Turf War, which is actually holding me back from getting my review up. I haven’t played enough ranked or Salmon Run to properly discuss. Hopefully, I’ll have that done by this weekend.

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    1. Thank you! The score is high because I do love the game – everything from Turf War to the single-player, and especially Salmon Run. My issues are with the minor inconveniences, and my score might have been higher had those problems been absent. But otherwise, I’m enjoying Splatoon 2 more than the original Wii U version, which had a fraction of this content at its launch. I’m glad you’re enjoying the game too, and I’d love to play with you sometime, especially Salmon Run when that’s available! Otherwise, we can join each other’s rooms (and hopefully get placed on the same team)! Looking forward to reading your thoughts! 🙂

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  5. Okay NOW I’m interested in this game. I thought it was just a third person shooter where you try to kill enemies, but it sounds more like anessier version of Q*bert where you’re trying to change everything to your color where killing enemies is a bonus, AND you can do it with friends.

    Amazon and/or Nintendo should hire you to write descriptions and reviews, because the former did not do a good job portraying what his game was about, or more likely I just missed it lol.

    I can understand some of the issues, but I think I’m definitely going to pick this up. It sounds like it would be so much fun to play with friends!

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    1. Yes! It’s definitely more of a color turf game than a traditional shooter. I’m not into shooters, and I can get really into it because of that. It’s definitely one of my favorite multiplayer games out for Switch right now. That says a lot, considering the system has had amazing hits like Mario Kart and ARMS. I love the focus on teamwork in this game!

      Awww, thank you for the kind words! That’d be amazing if that happened, haha. It’s a shame that the descriptions on Amazon led you astray, but I’m happy that you know what Splatoon 2 is about now, and that you’re interested!

      The issues are minor, and a lot of it boils down to: I like this game, and I wish I could just play more of it. I believe that says something about the fun factor, haha. If you pick it up, I would so love to play with you! Have we added each other yet?

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      1. Exactly! The way Amazon described it was as a shooter (or I didn’t read the description well enough) so I figured I’d pass, but it almost seems like Mario Sunshine in reverse :p

        We haven’t! But I also haven’t set up my Switch yet because I don’t have any games to play lol. I do have your Switch ID and a few others noted down so when I do fire it up, I’ll add you!

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      2. Haha, yes! That’s a good way of putting it. Mario Sunshine in reverse. I love it! And haha, will definitely look forward to playing with you once you fire it up! Can’t wait! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love salmon run so much and I’m sad we haven’t had any time to play together this week!! Hopefully they’ll realize the popularity of the mode and open it up to more hours during the day.

    I also hope they’ve solved their matchmaking problems, like when I’d somehow get the same map 10 games in a row or when all the lower-level players are on one team and the higher-level ones are on the other. Those were probably my biggest complaints about the original that Nintendo never seemed to address.

    My bf loved Splatoon 1 (and still plays a few times a week) and has been most frustrated with the changes to the roller, which he uses as his main weapon. But I think that’s just a Nintendo-being-Nintendo thing and unlikely to revert back to how it was before lol.

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    1. I know right? All week, I’ve been thinking of playing Salmon Run, and it’s never available when I’m on online (which is not often during the week apparently…). The matchmaking and stage restrictions annoy me. Imagine how varied every play session would be if we had access to every stage and play mode at once. It would be a powerhouse. I still don’t understand these limitations.

      I used to use the roller in Splatoon 1, but it doesn’t seem as good here. Maybe it’s also because I’ve discovered all the new weapons they’ve put out over the years. I still love that it’s an option though, especially for someone like me who prefers painting to shooting. It’s awesome that your bf still plays Splatoon 1. Did he try out Splatoon 2 yet?

      By the way, I don’t know if you saw it yet, but footage of you playing Salmon Run with me made it into the video version! 🙂

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  7. Just watched the video! Love it!

    And yes bf has tried Splatoon 2 but he just gets mad and goes back to playing Splatoon 1 T___T I’m waiting for more pro splatoon rollers to upload on Youtube so we can get some tips on how to use the new version, haha.

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    1. Thank you so much! I always appreciate your support! And playing with you was so much fun! I hope we can do more soon! 🙂 Haha, oh poor guy. Is the roller your favorite weapon too?

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  8. The dynamo is one of my favorite weapons — can’t wait to see how it handles now — but I also like the splatling and 52 gal, so I’m better off than him, haha. Which ones are your go-tos?

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    1. Right now, I’m owning with the N-ZAP ’85. Rapid-fire ink splat and Ink Armor complements my playstyle very well. Honestly, I wasn’t great at the first Splatoon and I didn’t have a good start for the sequel, but I think the N-ZAP’s combo has helped me settle in my groove. I still have to unlock more wepaons, but I might stick with that one unless I find something better. I have a lot to do to catch up to all these Level 20+ and ProFreshionals!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a bunch friend! The first Splatoon is out for Wii U and would be a good way to test drive Splatoon 2. They’re very similar, with the main differences being Salmon Run, a different story mode, and the system you play on. But people are still playing the Wii U one, and it would all be new to you! Worth a try for sure.

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  9. Great review. I feel I agree with you on pretty much everything. The only difference is that I assume I am more hooked on Splatoon than you are; I can’t stop playing this thing!

    I agree with the definition “a modest update”; I feel Nintendo could have done more. And I am baffled the stage rotation limitations and online restrictions still stand, and I also love Salmon Run and the single-player campaign.

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      1. Yes, I would love to play with you sometime! Are you free for some Salmon Run this weekend? Would also be up for Turf Wars, but gotta hit up Salmon Run while it’s still up!

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      2. I tried playing the Salmon Run that is currently up, but the weapon setup was killing me! I can do just fine with the roller, but I can’t handle the other three weapons. So I think I am skipping this one and waiting for the next (whenever that may be).

        I will be doing some Turf Wars tomorrow morning, though!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No problem! I haven’t tried it out, but I believe you. The weapon setups aren’t always the best, and I wish I could use whichever weapon I wanted instead of getting stuck with things like the Blaster. Let me know when you play, and I’ll try to catch you online! 🙂

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      4. ” I wish I could use whichever weapon I wanted instead of getting stuck with things like the Blaster.”

        I totally share that feeling! I will let you know.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot Matt! And I do believe you’re probably more hooked than I am! I’m disappointed the one big mode added, Salmon Run, is so restricted. It’s new! It’s exactly what I want to play, but I didn’t get a chance to all week. I’m guessing that Nintendo isn’t going to change its stance on stage and mode rotations, but to dangle Salmon Run in front of us and not let us play is ridiculous. Still love it though. It’s a testament to how much I want to play it, I guess, haha!

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  10. This game was made for the Switch. Was a fan of the first game for Wii U and totally enjoying this one! I think my only problem with the game is (which stems from the first one) unlike other multiplayer shooters like Overwatch, you basically have to do battle on sites on a time frame as per Nintendo time rather than have them all available and just chosen at random. I haven’t gotten around to fighting on at least 4 of the 8 battlegrounds because of this system. Otherwise I really love the design and uniqueness of this franchise.

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    1. Yup, my overall complaints are about the stage and mode rotations. But I think that says something about the game’s fun factor if I want to enjoy everything about it. The restrictions don’t make a lot of sense, but I still love the game. I’m definitely enjoying this more on the Switch than the Wii U! I don’t know whether it’s the portability or the better servers of the Switch, but I’m hooked! Thanks for your comments!

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