Discover what makes Nintendo so special in today’s gaming world through Nintendo Inquirer’s N Factor series!

“What do you love about Nintendo? The more I ask myself that question, the more complex my answer gets. I decided to use the term “N factor” to describe my feelings, because while it’s near impossible to define, Nintendo’s best games all have some undeniable and exclusive allure about them. They’re the result of finely tuned ideas and ideals that collectively personify the company behind them.”

The N Factor series:


I’m happy to report that in 2015, Nintendo is still making games that further the definition of its carefully curated image. Even though the Wii U is pretty much a lock for its worst selling console to date, Nintendo has dutifully supported it with plenty of stellar titles spanning most of its biggest franchises. But this year also brought us something that fans often clamor for and critics constantly demand: new Nintendo IP. I’m talking, of course, about Splatoon.

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This isn’t a review, so I’m not going to go on about modes, level design, multiplayer details, or any of the specifics about Splatoon that I have come to love. Instead, my aim here is to weigh my experiences with the game from two unique perspectives: my own and my kids’. Splatoon is one in a long line of games from Nintendo that truly transcends age, and since it’s a brand new franchise, I think it speaks double about Nintendo’s continued ability to craft experiences that can entertain and appeal to absolutely anyone.

I have three daughters. My oldest is six, and she can give me a run for my money in most of the games we play together, she will no doubt be my lifelong gaming buddy. I also have a three-year-old, who is just getting her feet wet, but has an unparalleled enthusiasm to join in. And while my youngest can’t do much more than drool on the controllers, I’m hopeful there, too. When I downloaded Splatoon, I didn’t know how it would go over. Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country, Captain Toad; I knew going in that these would be a hit with the kids. I mean, cat suits, come on. A third person shooter, though? I know I was certainly chomping at the bit to play it, but with the edgier tone and more complex controls and objectives, I could only hope the girls would dig it, too.

What I certainly didn’t expect was for it to become the only game my oldest wanted to play from that day forward. First, we spent a couple of weeks working through the campaign together. The highlights, for all of us, were the bosses. Though I couldn’t talk her into facing any of them herself, she and her sister would watch on pins and needles each time we would encounter a new one. The girls would slowly get their control bearings in the campaign’s hub world, a massive, self-cleaning canvas just waiting to be doused in colorful ink. It didn’t take much of this before they felt bold enough to start knocking out some of the levels, and even finding secrets that daddy was too impatient to seek out himself.

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Maybe it’s the cathartic feeling of making a mess, maybe it’s the dress-up element; it could even be that they appreciated the competitive nature of the game. Whatever it was that drew my kids to Splatoon, I was truly impressed with its ability to not only pull them in, but to hold their attention for days, weeks, and now months on end. Now we find ourselves in the awesome position of playing alternating multiplayer matches to earn gold and level up so we can try out new weapons and dress up our Inkling together. An activity that, amazingly, has me just as enthralled as it does them.

As much of a thrill as it is to watch my kiddos splat enemies right and left, I do have to use my parental powers to commandeer the controller sometimes. Why? Because I’m hopelessly addicted to Splatoon, too. Collectively, we have sunk over 100 hours into it now, we’re sitting at around level 27, and we play at least a couple of matches almost every… single… day. I have plenty of daddy-only games that I play on my own, and some happen to be shooters. Still, I can’t remember the last time I put that kind of hour count into an online competitive game of any kind. And with a level cap of 50 and more maps, equipiment and weapons on the way, we’re showing absolutely no signs of slowing down.

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I’ll reiterate. There are dozens of Nintendo games that I could list off the top of my head that I think absolutely anyone could enjoy. So why did I choose Splatoon to illustrate Nintendo’s age-agnostic appeal? Simple: It’s the first game that my kids and I fell in love with together.

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Written by Brittin Shauers

Brittin literally grew up with Link, Mario and Samus. These three characters and their worlds collectively capture everything that he loves about video games.

Brittin Shauers