Day of the tentacles.

A couple of weeks ago, I took up arms with like-minded Inklings across the globe, united by one clear objective: we had chosen rock as our preferred genre of music, and it was was time to honour this commitment in battle; we even got a free T-shirt for entering.

Our enemy was a familiar one. A cancerous leech that continues to grow stronger everyday despite its primitive, more repetitive nature. I’m talking about the vile genre of music known as pop, of course.

Pop music has spawned an abundance of doting fans who cry uncontrollably at the mere sight of their idols. These hysterical, mentally unhinged fans help to ensure that if a pop artist is even moderately handsome – and can be manufactured into a saleable property by their record label – they’ll live a very cushy lifestyle for years to come. Talent isn’t necessary most of the time. And that’s sickening, right?

But what about rock stars? Well, rock stars generally don’t give a squid’s tentacle about what people think about them. And unlike the pop stars who prance around on stage and lip-sync over their latest hit single, which primarily consists of auto-tuning their shaky vocals into something bearable, rock stars are masters of their instruments and always keep it real.

This Ink’s Personal

To give you a little perspective, I’ve always been a hardcore rocker at heart. I played a couple of gigs in a heavy metal band when I was younger, and I practically worshipped the likes of Metallica, Iron Maiden and even the more obscure Dream Theater during my formative years. But even though my wardrobe now consists of respectable clothes from reputable brands, instead of a sea of band-emblazoned hoodies from Fruit of the Loom, my heart still beats to the strum of an electric guitar, laced with thick distortion.

metallica

God bless these men.

So pop sucks. And rock… well, it totally rocks! So I was delighted to discover that Europe’s inaugural Splatfest would pit the two genres head-to-head, over two colourful ink-filled days. It was the perfect chance to settle the score, and unlike Nintendo’s Everybody Votes channel on Wii, which I really enjoyed despite it being nothing more than a popularity contest, the final result of a Splatfest can be won and lost by how well participants perform on the battlefield.

This was my chance to leave a mark on Splatoon’s history.

And that’s all kind of awesome, really, because it’s not very often I get to fight for something I truly believe in when it comes to video games. Winning the King of Iron Fist Tournament in Tekken could be considered a pretty big deal, I guess. And I probably wouldn’t sit back and let the Covenant take over Earth if I was a genetically engineered super-soldier like Master Chief. But if I was Mario, and I had to save Princess Peach after she’d been kidnapped again for the umpteenth time, I’d probably give it a miss and go skim pebbles across Lake Hylia with Link instead. She’s clearly giving Bowser mixed messages.

So this was my chance to leave a mark on Splatoon’s history, and I was determined to finally win some bragging rights for my head-banging brethren.

Play It Loud

Splatfest wasn’t just an opportunity for me to unleash years of pent up aggression towards the bubble-gum soldiers of the pop regiment, though. It also proved to be a turning point in my relationship with Splatoon as a whole. I was generally happy with the overall experience, but there were a few bum notes here and there.

The game’s wonderfully realised setting truly comes alive during a Splatfest event, as the Shibuya-like hubworld cascades into darkness, illuminated by the game’s neon lights and eye-searingly bright ink. It’s like having a paintball fight on the streets of Akihabara, and who wouldn’t want to do that? Throw in a remixed soundtrack, which is utterly brilliant, and you’re onto a real winner.

Splatoon Splatfest team

“Your future’s bright, your future’s orange!”

But it gets better. My biggest criticism of Splatoon is the game’s map rotation, or lack of it. Flicking between two maps at a time just simply isn’t enough, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself playing the same map multiple times in quick succession. Splatfest goes some way in addressing this issue by bringing a third map into the fray. It’s not much, but it’s a darn sight better than two.

The lack of voice chat in Splatoon can also feel like a horrible oversight at times, especially when it becomes clear that some people on your team are only in it for themselves. And that basically means you’re going to be left with spotty ink coverage, next to no map control and Judd the Cat awarding the opposition with a crushing victory. However, during the Splatfest I found that everyone seemed to be more focused than before. I ended up sharing an almost telepathic understanding with a group of players as we tore waves of opposing pop fans to shreds with our clever ink coverage and solid teamwork. Clearly my team felt as passionately about rock as I did… or at least that’s what I like to think.

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The event is also a great place to draw in older players who may have stepped away from the game. This is doubly important due to the fact Nintendo are slowly drip feeding new content into the game since it launched, such as new weapons, maps and multiplayer modes, so there’s a great chance to hook returning players.

Finally, to sweeten deal even more, the Splatfest is an opportune time to level up your character, stand up for your beliefs, and earn some Super Sea Snail Shells, which can be used to customise your favourite gear by adding new upgrade slots or re-rolling secondary abilities. Not too shabby, eh?

I Wanna Rock!

As the Splatfest drew to a close, and the results rolled in, I was weary as to whether pop music’s all-encompassing popularity would see it over the line. Nevertheless, I was happy with my contribution to the war. I’d reached the level of Eternal Rock Girl, which meant I was totally kawaii and a mosh pit veteran at the same time. But I guess I should have shown more faith in squid democracy, as to my astonishment, rock won the majority of the votes. This was a huge surprise, no doubt about it, but what about the area that mattered most: the two day battle? Well, colour me in pink and yellow ink… It was another win for rock and roll!

Staaay Fresh!

Thanks to Splatfest, I generally feel a lot better about the whole rock versus pop debate. I guess it was a cathartic exercise, and it feels as though a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Seriously, I’m not squidding. It’s also helped me realise that even though it’s super fun living vicariously through an in-game character or avatar, sometimes my heart really isn’t in it. And when that happens, I now have a place where I can stand up for what I believe in, one gooey splodge of ink at a time.

I’ll be taking up the fight again this weekend as another Splatfest looms near, but this time it’s a far more divisive choice and my allegiance is firmly split down the middle. Which do you love more: sleep or food? Hmm… Let’s go Team Sleep!

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