Hands on with Splatoon 2 for the Nintendo Switch

nintendo switch splatoon 2

Hands on with Splatoon 2 for the Nintendo Switch

Yesterday I got was able to enjoy a hands on session with the upcoming Nintendo Switch.  The first game that I played on it was Splatoon 2.  This is the second game in the family friendly shooter series that has given me many hours of fun on the Wii U.

I played several games of Splatoon 2 throughout my hands-on session.  All of these were with the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode.  This is the play on the go mode that has the screen in your hands as you play.  I could quickly see why Nintendo had chosen Splatoon 2 as one of the games to get in people’s hands in this mode.  Splatoon relies upon colours more than most games.  Colour is fundamental to its gameplay and so it proves to be a great way of showing just how good the screen can look.  The Nintendo Switch in handheld mode looks amazing.  The demo I played used gyroscopic controls to assist with the aiming which after a short, balloon popping tutorial, became natural.  The multiplayer matches I then played were just as fun and frantic as Splatoon.  I played several matches using the new dual wielded pistols and dabbled with some old favourites.  I also was able to try out the new jetpack special ability and we were told a little about some of the customisation options coming in Splatoon 2.

nintendo switch hands on splatoon 2


The booth was designed to allow for two teams to sit and play matches opposite each other.  It is interesting to note that Splatoon 2 was only playable in handheld mode.  I can only assume this is to help them utilise the vibrant graphics to best show of the Nintendo Switch in its handheld mode.  

Nintendo Switch in handheld mode

My only complaint/concern about the Nintendo Switch in handheld mode was the location of the right thumbstick.  It simply felt too low.  In Splatoon 2 the right thumbstick is used to control the camera alongside the gyroscope.  Its position in handheld mode didn’t feel natural.  Now, it is certainly worth saying that this is based on half a dozen rounds of Splatoon 2.  But it was a bit of a concern.  I should add here that when I played Zelda: Breath of the Wild I used the Joy cons in TV mode and they felt far more comfortable.  Somehow the width of the controls in handheld mode accentuated the right thumbstick’s foreign position to me.

Splatoon 2 gameplay thoughts

As far as the gameplay goes, this was classic Splatoon.  We played for control of the maps by using our various weapons and special abilities to cover our coloured paint over as much of their surface area as possible.  Splatoon’s gameplay took me a little while to get into originally but once I got it I was totally hooked.  This truly is a family friendly shooter.  Despite its child friend vibe it really does feels like an intense shooter. Splatoon matches can be won by playing tactically alongside your team mates but their is no violence involved at all.  

Aside from my concerns about the right thumbstick the controls felt great.  Some slight alterations have been made to the button layout, for example jump has been moved from X to B as default.  I’m not sure if Splatoon 2 will allow players to alter the controls to their own liking or not.

Shooters are some of the biggest selling console games but Nintendo consoles don’t have many.  Having said that Nintendo’s Splatoon should certainly be considered one of the best of them.  Nintendo’s games frequently place more emphasis on single player and local multiplayer as opposed to online multiplayer.  Splatoon 2 is the Switch’s best chance at an online, multiplayer shooter.  From what I’ve played already I cannot wait to get my hands on it again for another few rounds.