Why isn’t there a full-fledged Splatoon rhythm game already? Splatoon 2’s minigame, Squid Beatz 2, is as close as Nintendo’s come to giving the series the stylish musical showcase it deserves — and it’s a lot of fun.
Squid Beatz 2 is a refined version of Splatoon’s similar rhythm game, which was much more barebones. The sequel actually doesn’t have that much to it, either, although it’s available by default in the arcade. (Squid Beatz was unlocked with amiibo.) Players choose from an assortment of 42 songs — some unlocked from the start, others hidden away — at will, each one recognizable from within the game itself. A dancing silhouette accompanies a track of color-defined notes, which get more or less complex based on which of two difficulty settings players go with.
It’s a fun diversion that’s surprisingly complicated because of the control scheme. Take a look at this:
It takes a second to get used to these, but this helpful reminder remains on screen the whole time. On hard mode, these notes come fast and switch between pink and green freely. This is made harder by a design quirk: You can change songs on the fly, and pressing the left stick by accident at any point could totally throw you out of your vibe and into another track completely.
If you’re a seasoned rhythm game fan, none of this is going to blow your mind. There’s no fail state, so you can keep going until the song ends. There are high scores that keep track of how many “fresh” and “good” on-beat hits you landed, but things don’t go much deeper.
Squid Beatz 2 is just a tiny minigame, after all, designed as just a diversion from all the splatting. But the thing we always go on about when it comes to Splatoon is how fresh and cool it is, and the music’s an integral piece of that. Going through each of these tracks is a pleasure not because of any rigorous gameplay or rad rewards — there are none of the latter — but because all of these songs are so damn good.
So when will Nintendo just bite the bullet and realize that if there’s any series in its library that deserves a stab at another genre, it’s Splatoon, and it’s a rhythm game. Bring this to mobile, throw in some Nintendo-themed DLC — it’ll kill.