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Splatoon 2 on Nintendo Switch: a fishy remix, but still great fun

Splatoon 2 is something of a conundrum. While ostensibly a full sequel to the surprise hit team shooter released for Wii U back in 2015, at times it feels more similar in approach to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.Like Deluxe, released for Nintendo Switch in March 2017, Splatoon 2 can seem like a glorified spit and polish, taking an already great game that many missed due to its Wii U exclusivity and repackaging it for the far more popular Switch. To be fair to Nintendo, the approach works – Deluxe is now seen by many as arguably the definitive Mario Kart, and it's racked up 2.1 million sales in just three months. Hoping for a similar response to Splatoon's successor is understandable.

The difference is that Deluxe, with its improved battle mode and all original DLC included as standard, was framed as a refresh. Splatoon 2 pitches itself as a continuation of the ink-spraying Dell Customer Service original but at times doesn't quite feel like there's enough content to justify that generational leap.For instance, step into the hub area of Inktropolis for the first time and, aside from a few new stores where you'll eventually upgrade weapons and customise your shapeshifting squid avatar, you'll find effectively the same layout as the Wii U version. Similarly, controls are almost exactly the same, though this in itself is no bad thing. Shifting between humanoid Inkling and fully squidified forms remains as simple and intuitive as ever, and aiming and moving using the Joy-Con's motion sensing – while mechanically the same as waving the the Wii U's gamepad around – feels more precise than in the first game, allowing more accurate shots.

In multiplayer – which we've only tested in controlled beta tests, and will be updating this review to reflect performance under real world conditions – Splatoon 2 offers the same four modes as the previous entry. Turf War continues to be the main event, where teams battle to cover the most territory in their respective colour ink, while Splat Zones (fight to control specific areas), Tower Control (seize a moving, automated tower and fend off enemies until you reach their goal) and Rainmaker (escort a totem to a goal point at the enemy team's base) all return. There are some tweaks that high level players will notice, and the latter three modes are now ranked individually, but there are few real surprises.That's not to say there are no improvements or fresh additions to the game. In particular, the single player Hero Mode gets a massive and much-needed overhaul. While still essentially a training mode to prepare players for the rigours of online competitive play, it refines and improves on its predecessor with larger maps, inventive and uniquely challenging bosses, and hidden background material to unlock.

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