I read a wonderful thing once about ants, and it made me love them more than I did already - and I already really loved ants. This thing I read - I cannot remember the source or the specifics - talked about how ants construct their nests, how they achieve a level of intelligence together that no single ant actually possesses. The thrust of this, as I remember it, is that ants are very good at counting. As they wander off in the morning to do something useful, they count the number of ants they see doing the various things they are doing, and through this counting, the ant who is looking for something useful to be a part of builds up a sense of where they are most needed.
What is it that's kept me coming back to the three minute match-ups of Splatoon all year long? Maybe it's in the little details that can make Nintendo games such a joy - the satisfying splosh as you dive into ink, like the wholesome plonk of a hefty pebble being dropped into a pond - or how its scraps are a viscous riot as giddy and giggly as a food fight.
If you're searching for the new generation of talent within Nintendo, you needn't look much further than Tsubasa Sakaguchi. They certainly don't come much more youthful that the co-director of Splatoon, Nintendo EAD's first all-new character led game in 14 years; when we meet in a sushi house in Soho he bristles with a child-like energy and enthusiasm, his long hair tied back and his bright yellow Splatoon-themed t-shirt shining as brightly as his smiling eyes. You can sense so much of that energy in Splatoon too, a game that dances to the rhythm of youthful exuberance. New beginnings don't come much more convincing than this.
Editor's note: This is an early impressions piece based on time spent with pre-release code of Splatoon. We'll have our full review up early next week, once we've had time with the game on fully populated servers.
We recently had a chance to take a closer look at a near complete build of Splatoon and, with two months remaining until release, the game is looking remarkably polished. Equipping players with paint guns instead of gaming's typical selection of assault rifles and other high calibre weaponry, Nintendo has approached the multiplayer arena shooter with fresh eyes, resulting in a fresh new experience that is welcoming for hardcore and casual players alike. Despite its unfamiliarity with the genre, Nintendo has manages to produce a visually striking game that delivers a level of polish one would expect from any of its high-profile releases.
Lateral thinking with seasoned technology. It's a philosophy established by Game Boy creator Gunpei Yokoi, and one that you can attribute much of Nintendo's success to. It turns out it's a philosophy that's just as potent when it comes to software. Splatoon takes the somewhat tired premise of an online shooter and, with a little creativity and large, literal splashes of colour, makes for a shooter that's bursting with potential.
At the start of the new year, we once used to run a series looking at the trends we think will emerge over the next 12 months - the ideas and technologies that will go on to shape and define the games we play and how we play them. This year, it didn't seem a particularly fitting way to tackle what lies ahead: not because there won't be grand themes emerging, and not because there won't be new approaches that will dazzle and confound us, but rather because it seems pointless pointing out what's becoming patently obvious.
Who would have thought the best third-person shooter to emerge at last week's E3 would come from Nintendo? The reveal of Splatoon, a colourful squad-based shooter, was typical of a company that managed to hit all the right beats in Los Angeles, delivering something far more significant than a new Mario, or a new Metroid - it was an all-new IP, produced by the next generation of talent within Nintendo that's all-important to its future.