Paint. Splat. Repeat.


The “online competitive shooter” genre isn't generally known for its innovation—start with steroidal homunculi murdering each other, add some gray-brown locales ripped from the headlines, add a drone or something and boom! 1.5 million units sold. Splatoon ($59.99), Nintendo's first squad-based online shooter, takes the cliches and adds a series of typically Nintendo-esque twists: Instead of some muscle-bound grunt, you're an inkling—a young squid-like humanoid creature.

Instead of bullets, your weapons shoot ink. Instead of hunting your opponents, your goal is to cover as much of the level in ink as possible. If it sounds weird, different and intriguing, that's because it is. Nintendo has offered up the first shooter in years that actually feels new.

The game is simple and lighthearted enough to be a child's first shooting game (The game even goes out of its way to point out that the competitors are all friends at the end of the day, and that the ink magically goes away on its own) but deep enough to offer a satisfying experience for more competitive players.

I don't even have space here to detail the bizarre squid-centric world, the brief but fun single-player campaign, the giant cat that announces the winner of each match, or the dozens of seafood-related puns. A week out from launch and the community is still surging, with Nintendo adding more levels, weapons and gear throughout the summer.