There have been a few exceptions over the years, but by and large Nintendo is a family-friendly company; their games are bright, colourful, character-driven, accessible, and with a strong sense of their own heritage. Even the company's corporate headquarters are a big fibre glass building shaped like a whimsical asparagus with a cartoon face.
Nintendo's probing of real-time strategy gave us Pikmin. Experimenting with beat 'em ups gave us Super Smash Bros. And now their fannying about with first-person shoot 'em ups has given us Splatoon (except: it's a third-person shooter, but... y'know... whatever... shut-up).
It has taken them a while, but clearly Nintendo has looked at your Team Fortresses and Call of Duties, and asked themselves how they would look once dragged twixt its loins. Given that the N64's Goldeneye pretty much gave birth to console first-person shooters, it's borderline absurd that it has taken them so long to get around to it.
What does a 21st Century Nintendo version of a competitive online shoot 'em up look like? The answer is this answer: it looks exactly like Splatoon. Ie; equal parts Super Mario Sunshine, Powerpuff Girls and calamari.
The characters in Splatoon - for they are very much characters - are armed with ink squirters. Rather than kill their opponents, victory is achieved by inking more of a level than your rival team (the colour balance of the maps are revealed on the Gamepad screen).
And here's the twist: the characters are half-squid creatures - when standing on a patch of their own paint, they can swim through it (even vertically), or become invisible.
Enemy ink slows your progress, as does getting hit in the face by an ink blast - sending you back to the respawn point. In addition to the ink guns, there's a selection of grenades and bombs - again, combusting in clouds of coloured ink, rather than flesh-rending shrapnel.
Inevitably, there's a single player story - a mix of shooting, platforming and simple puzzle-solving - but, fun as it is, it's really there to familiarise you with the controls, rather than a game in its own right.
Let us not pretend that this is about anything other than the multiplayer.
The core of Splatoon is joyous, as you'd expect from Nintendo. For a brand new franchise, from a company that isn't immersed in the genre, it does so much right.
It's not quite as immediately accessible as we'd expected: anyone used to typical console shooter control schemes might be initially bewildered by Splatoon's decision to control vertical vision with the gamepad. With a bit of practice, however, it allows for a precision of control that's more in line with PC shooters.
Nevertheless, we couldn't quite shake the feeling, that Nintendo had done it just to be different. Like spoiling a wedding by repeatedly playing a trombone throughout the ceremony, or eating a picture of a bard for breakfast.
Unfortunately, as bright and saccharine as they are, the maps aren't as distinct as you might've expected: there's a sameyness about them that's disappointing, given the vibrancy of the overall aesthetic. Also, inevitably at this stage, the wait for online games can be frustratingly long. Hopefully, both are issues that can be resolved in time.
But... Splatoon is a tough one to be horrible about. It's like a desperate-to-please puppy, and for daring to do something wholly different with competitive shooting games, for daring to do something family-friendly (but no less of a challenge to those already steeped up to their groin in the genre) Nintendo should be commended. It gives a tired style of game the stomping we would've hoped, and we can see it becoming influential across the board.
What's more, without even going the route of shoving existing characters in there, and turning it into some sort of Super Mario Shooter, it's a game that fits beautifully into the Wii U's line-up - a catalogue completely distinctive next to the drearily similar offerings of the Xbox One and PS4 (which virtually identical black box are YOU going to buy?!).
SUMMARY: Not an unqualified success, but close to it. Some may find the lack of grittiness galling, but there's no denying it wafts through its genre like a breath of fresh air.
SCORE: 81.5343 inks out of 10.3232323