Truthfully, I don’t love you, Wii U. It’s not that you didn’t try. Super Mario 3D World and Mario Maker still make me smile. But mostly, my experiences have felt underwhelming. It’s why I feel torn, as you’ve given me one of the greatest moments of my gaming life. It’s the one I witnessed at the end of Splatoon.
The Wii U isn’t dead yet. Xenoblade Chronicles X, and a new Star Fox are on the horizon. Next year, there are promises of the new Legend of Zelda. Like a lot of people, I care a lot as to what the newest entry in the franchise will bring. But I’ve also cared about the potential my Wii U teased and at times, delivered albeit in small ways for me. Even so, I don’t “hate” the system because that’s not what I feel at all. But to say I’ve been enamoured by the games I’ve played over the past three years since its release—well, that hasn’t exactly happened.
I’ve had a lot of positive experiences with the console, including my first real excursion into online multiplayer territory with Mario Kart 8. I believe there are some more positives waiting to happen. But the thing that impressed me the most, is the thing that’s also so very Nintendo.
When Splatoon released all those months ago, I had a mild interest in the game, as shying away from multiplayer games is still something I do. No amount of encouragement willed me to play, no matter how fast and furious the pleading text messages from friends came. No matter how upbeat Inkopolis is, with its edgy squids and kids who tried to lure me in for being so stylistically appealing.
Then one day, I watched my nephew embroiled in the final boss battle.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I smile when I think about that samurai-clad battle ready Octavio who takes center stage in a lit-up floating booth, surrounded by towering speakers, wasabi stalks in tentacles...and he starts to spin.
Honestly, just look at the genius in that. Moments after, he announces, “I’ma remix your face!”, and I can’t help but laugh.
His entrance is dramatic, cued with sounds that are perfectly executed to amp up his villainy. The bass lines which dip and rise keep the overuse of synth anchored. Roaring guitars signal energy blasts in his attacks, and keep adding variation to the rhythmic battle.
It doesn’t end there. When he’s had just about enough, the soundtrack switches to an anthem by the Squid Sisters that just can’t be beat. It’s a battle in sound, rave-inspired in visuals and an exciting spectacle of a concert.
The entire final scene for this boss fight is purely comical, and just so delightfully and fantastically unexpected—DJ Octavio losing his ever-loving mind with frantic dance moves at his turntables, the Squid Sisters’ vocals blaring in a language that only Nintendo knows how to create to be adorable, and believable, much like the Animalese of Animal Crossing.
Splatoon’s very modern, and young. It’s a specific type of young—the kind that’s gripping, commanding, carefree and cutting in style. It feels culturally relevant—years after games like The World Ends With You saw Square trade in its usual ideas of epic, grand adventure JRPG fantasy for a present-day societal Tokyo. That’s what I’m reminded of when I think about Splatoon’s boss fight, and the overall aesthetics of the game. It’s got that modern bite to it steeped in Nintendo flair. Because let’s face it: a fierce, dancing DJ Octopus just screams Nintendo quirk, doesn’t it?
Amidst the enjoyable familiarity of solid games like Super Mario 3D World, and New Super Mario Bros U, the very concept and package of Splatoon feels like a remix of Nintendo’s norm—something I hoped for more of from my Wii U.
And so Happy Anniversary, Wii U. Of this console generation, you’re the one I play the most even though I love you a little bit less than the previous generation. I’ve yet to find that triumphant game in our three year relationship for which I can express an undying affection for you. Moments like Splatoon’s final fight do remind me that there’s a spark there, though, and I’m happier because of them. Thanks for that, and here’s hoping for more like it in the coming year.
I’m just one person with a handful of experiences with my time spent with the Wii U. Have any Wii U memories or favourite games to share, on this its Third (NA) Birthday/Anniversary? Let’s hear them!
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