Game Review: Nintendo’s Splatoon is armed to the gills with aquatic whimsy and puns

Twenty years ago, video games were led by icons like Mario and Sonic and widely perceived as nothing but cute characters in colorful worlds. Ten years ago, public perception shifted toward hard-edged gritty shooters, driven by series like Call Of Duty and Gears Of War. Now, Nintendo asks—like the precocious young girl in a commercial for taco shells—why we can’t have both in the same package? Its answer is Splatoon, a shooter about adorable squid children covering the world with dazzling paint.

Nintendo made a game that is, ostensibly, about going online and shooting other players with guns—except, in the Nintendo tradition, it’s not really. Winning or losing has more to do with painting the town your own color of ink; “splatting” members of the opposing team out of existence only slows them down. The conventions of team-based warfare are maintained, but Splatoon injects enough …

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