Thursday, June 11, 2015

Signs of Maturity in 'Splatoon'

Stay inky, squid squad six.
This week on PopMatters, I get all grown up with Splatoon.

For someone who claims to not be that enthusiastic about shooters, I sure do play a lot of them.  I even played a bunch of the Uncharted 3 multiplayer (hey, I still think it's pretty good).  Despite how much I enjoy them, I usually end up feeling a bit embarrassed by them.

Their devotion to military drama and combat jargon gets to be too much for me to truly take them seriously.  They're trying too hard: the sights, sounds, and slang feel a bit like the games doth protest too much.  I feel like the games are constantly and somewhat desperately reminding me of how badass I should feel doing all this combat shit.  "Bro, check out the red dot on this AR.  Also, I'm going to call you ice man and tell you stay frosty in a totally unironic way."

In its own weird way, Splatoon feels more mature even though it looks like it was based on 1990s Saturday morning cartoons.  It's wacky, but it's earnest.  There aren't any pretentious operatic music tracks or spectacular explosions; just cute, punk-rock squid kids who take paintball really seriously.

Because it's not trying to sell a power fantasy, it makes me feel less self conscious for playing it.  It's less of a power fantasy and more of a straight up fantasy.  I'm here for a wacky time, not to play fake-military.  It also helps that the game has some clever ways of cutting through the online garbage and equipment progression stuff that caters to people with lots of time on their hands (get off my lawn youngsters).

I'll return to Splatoon again for some deeper mechanical analysis, but in the meantime I'll go back to playing it proudly.  It seems very comfortable in its aesthetic.  In it's neon-colored way, Splatoon feels more mature than games that carry the equivalent ESRB rating.

No comments:

Post a Comment