There is an easy kind of brilliance to Nintendo at its best – although I’m sure there is nothing easy at all about creating this sort of impression in the first place. Anyway, it’s down to a sort of pulling together of all parts of a game’s design, reeling things in until what you have in your hands in rich and coherent and easy to understand. Last week Nintendo was showing off its forthcoming single-player stuff for Splatoon 2, and the sense throughout was of that richness, that coherence, and weirdly enough, the welcome surprises it can allow for.
Coherence! You already see this sort of thing in Splatoon in the way that ink becomes territory and territory becomes safety, a speed boost, and the ability to refill ammo. Splatoon’s latest offering is a suite of single-player levels called the Octo Expansion. It’s based around the conceit of a trip on the underground, as far as I can tell, each new mission starting with you standing before turnstile gates and paying to pass through into…what next?
Oh man, great stuff awaits, all of it familiar, all of it surprising. Take the Baller, a stand-out power-up from the multiplayer, in which you get to spend a few glorious seconds rolling around inside a massive hamster ball before triggering it to explode in a shower of ink. The genius of the Baller in the middle of a match is not just that it’s handy but it’s so desirable: you want it so much, and when you get it, it’s yours for a matter of seconds and then it’s gone.