Splatoon’s been out for about a month now, but here are some brief thoughts to mull over with a bizarre supermarket wine find. Two topics for today: an upcoming balance patch on June 30, and the value of finishing single-player mode.

The Wine

Here’s what I’m sipping on (multiple sips. most-of-the-bottle-so-far sips) tonight as I write this.

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It was spotted in the wine aisle of my local Publix here in Fort Myers, Florida. I was with my boyfriend picking up ingredients for chili, which brings me to the beer aisle, as the recipe calls for a cup of stout. I think as a joke, he plucked it off the shelf and showed it to me: “Haha, look! Cheesecake wine?!” At which point I took it from him and put it in our cart. If you’re curious, it was $13.99.

There is very little alcohol bite and, obviously, it’s sweet. However, it’s not sweet like a Riesling - any possible grape flavor has been replaced by a very distinct cheesecake taste. The flavor is undoubtedly artificial flavoring, but a part of me is holding out on some slim chance that the secret behind the flavor is some special distilling process where they dump a bunch of whipping cream and cream cheese into the fermenting barrels. Wishful thinking, I know.

The Squids

After the chili was made and eaten, we sat down at the couch with our bottle of silly novelty wine and fired up the Wii U. My boyfriend started playing first, which is a bit hard for me to sit through because I’m definitely a backseat gamer.

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“Someone activated an echolocator. There’s two guys to your right, around that corner - Adam, two guys to your right - two —” [he gets splatted as he walks out, trying to be aggressive instead of cautious.]

“Look, someone is landing right there! Shoot them as soon as they land!” [his ink bullets rain around them after they land and he’s swiftly splatted.]

“INK STRIKE! RUN! RUN!” [he does not run.]

Now, my boyfriend is not some gamer noob. I’ve watched him play Bloodborne several times now, he’s got quick fingers when he knows what he’s doing. But that’s just the thing, isn’t it?

Although my boyfriend and I have played about the same amount of Splatoon multiplayer so far, there’s one thing I’ve done that he hasn’t: completed the single player campaign.

Everyone should definitely make it a priority to finish single player as soon as they can, AND the amiibo challenges if possible. Here’s the thing about the Splatoon single player: while the earlier levels are easy and a bit boring, the later ones really ramp up the difficulty and force you to channel all your years of shooting and platforming expertise. By the time I had finished the final boss, I was exponentially better at dodging inkstrikes, hiding from snipers, aiming at moving targets, aiming bomb tosses, and hell, aiming period. Mastering the controls is the key to this game, whether it’s the motion controls (which I highly recommend) or dual analog sticks. If you can’t move and aim fast, you’re just not going to be as good.

On top of that, there’s no way to get through the final boss without making each drop of ink count. The game simply throws too much shit at you at once for you to fuck around. You HAVE to douse the ground with ink to give yourself an escape path from constant Killer Whales, you HAVE to play cautiously to keep yourself from being murdered by junk mobs sent to kill you, you HAVE to keep your ink reserves on lockdown, you HAVE to aim precisely and quickly.

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When I returned to multiplayer after finishing it, the difference was immediately noticeable. I’m much more likely to aim directly at another player and slaughter them instead of peppering the ground around them with bullets, giving them lots of time to turn and splat me instead. I’m really good at fleeing from a sticky situation now, especially from specials like the Kraken or Inkstrike. I honestly don’t remember the last time Killer Whale actually killed me. And why would it, after I spent half an hour dodging it every 10 seconds on a tiny platform?

Finish single player mode. It will help you master the controls, and that is gonna separate you in multiplayer. And there’s that awesome song, too.

Rebalancing Patch

Did you know that we’re getting a balance patch on Tuesday of this week? It was announced on Friday, apparently, but I didn’t hear about it until tonight. It came as a shock to me, to be honest. Nintendo? Care about stuff like balancing? You can read the patch notes here. The info is pretty sparse, but here’s the big things:

  1. Kraken Semi-Nerfed: You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. The Kraken is broken. Not only is it a guaranteed escape, but it can also be an unbeatable kill. Literally the only thing you can do when faced with a fucking Kraken is run away and hope there’s enough ink around you to dodge. On top of that, it lasts way too long - seriously, you need a lot of space to dodge the stupid things. Well, apparently Nintendo noticed this, and they’re adding some kind of “knockback” if you shoot a player while in Kraken form. I can’t imagine that this will really solve the problem, since the Kraken still moves too quickly and lasts way too long, and there’s no mention of losing its invicibility which is the real problem... but it’s a start.
  2. Inkstrike Spread Fixed: If you use the Splattershot Pro like I do, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes the ink radius is huge on the map, and sometimes it’s tiny. I always assumed that this was a graphical error on the map and not an issue with how much ink was actually being spread with each strike, but apparently I was wrong. On Tueday, “the amount of area covered will be more consistent regardless of where it lands.” So it was the specific location that was making some strikes larger than others? Well, cool, this is a welcome fix.
  3. Ninja Squid and Stealth Jump Slowed Down: Two of the best abilities are getting a minor nerf. The first is Ninja Squid, which makes you literally invisible while swimming in ink - practically a requirement for anyone who mains with a Roller or Inkbrush. The second is Stealth Jump, which is universally useful and helps stop the situation I described above (someone camps next to your landing point and kills you as soon as you land). In both cases, each action will be slowed down significantly, with Ninja Squid resulting in slower swim speed and Stealth Jump causing your jumps to be slower. It’s probably good that they’re trying to help balance these two abilities, but I think it won’t change how prevalent they are. The benefits are too great.
  4. Ink Resistance Up “Adjusted”: This is a weird one, and the most vague. Ink Resistance Up is an ability that lowers the speed penalty and damage effects of walking in another team’s ink. I’ve never been a fan of this, because typically if I find myself in another team’s ink I’m about to die. It isn’t hard to stick to your own color or shoot a path for yourself to traverse. But maybe the benefits of this were too great, especially if coupled with Run Speed Up. Or maybe it’s getting buffed?? “Adjusted” is an extremely vague word. We’ll have to see what happens.

I’m now nearing the bottom of this damned bottle of “cheesecake” wine - my boyfriend didn’t like it so he wasn’t willing to help me finish it. :[ But I’m comforted by the idea of a Kraken nerf, and from knowing how much better I’ve got at Splatoon. (Also, this game still doesn’t need voice chat.)

FINISH SINGLE PLAYER! and stop using the Kraken, you Roller cowards.

Top image fanart is by sizma on Tumblr.