Given the animation style, the frantic action, and the array of colours, it makes sense that people would draw connections between Ninjala and Splatoon 2.
While the cited similarities between the two Nintendo Switch titles are mostly cosmetic, we’re going to see if Ninjala and Splatoon 2 share any features beyond what can be seen on the cover art.
Ninjala vs Splatoon 2: Price
Ninjala is a free-to-play game. Without paying a penny, you can get into the game, lightly customise your character, battle online, and earn the currency which allows you to upgrade your ninja’s Shinobi Cards – which add to the strength of your avatar.
However, you don’t get access to the full game for free. The single-player Story Mode, which will be released in chapters, is locked behind a £7.99 ($9.99) paywall per chapter, with all clothing customisations also locked behind the premium currency.
As the first one focuses on one character, Van, you can reasonably expect another seven-ish Story Mode chapters.
To gain access to better rewards while levelling-up in the online multiplayer modes, you’ll also need to buy the Season Pass. It costs 950 Jala (the premium currency), which translates to £7.99 ($9.99).
Splatoon 2 is a full-priced game, and as it’s a Nintendo game, its price has barely wavered since its 2017 release. It’s still £49.99 ($59.99) through the eShop or about £40 for the physical copy.
Buying Splatoon 2 gets you what was the entire release of the game at the time. In 2018, the game received a true DLC which offers actual additional gaming content for your money, with the Octo Expansion costing £17.99 ($19.99).
While Splatoon 2 does boast an extensive single-player mode, its longevity comes from its online multiplayer mode. However, to play Splatoon 2 online, you need the Nintendo Online subscription, whereas Ninjala doesn’t require the subscription to be played online (its only free game mode).
For the full Splatoon 2 experience, you’re looking at £67.98 ($79.98), at the most. To get every item in the ever-updating Ninjala shop, the payments may never end. However, to play the game at a base level with the Season Pass and part one of the Story Mode, it’ll cost £15.98 ($19.98).
Ninjala vs Splatoon 2: Gameplay
Upon entering a battle in either Ninjala or Splatoon 2, having played the other, you’ll quickly discover that these two games aren’t very similar regarding the fundamental gameplay.
They’re both full of colour, feature a distinctly ‘Nintendo’ aesthetic, incite frantic action that’s driven by speed, and utilise environments with disguises and specialised movement. However, the very first place that the two begin to separate is in the weapon selection.
Splatoon 2 has sloshers, splatlings, rollers, chargers, blasters, brellas, dualies, and shooters to make up its range of weapon classes, with several options within each class. Each weapon comes with its own sub and special.
Ninjala has three weapon classes – katanas, hammers, and yo-yos – with there being four weapons in each class. Each weapon has its own Ninjutsu, abilities, special move, gum shoot, and parameters.
In Ninjala, much of the combat is focussed on close-quarters attacks, but there are some elements of range through mid-range yo-yo attacks and some of the special long-distance moves.
On the other hand, Splatoon 2’s main focus is on ranged combat, but there are also a few close combat options, such as the brushes of the roller class.
Splatoon 2 is a very easy game to pick up, play, and get to grips with, but there’s plenty to master once you’ve found your preferred style of play.
Despite having a shallower weapon pool, Ninjala has so far proven to be more difficult to get to grips with, primarily because of the lack off space to operate and the non-skilful influences.
The luck-based ‘trilemmas,’ which greatly influence matches, mean that just about anyone can end up on top if they win enough of the rock-paper-scissors duels.
Upgrading to get an edge and finding the best moments to use special abilities takes a lot of time, and even the more skilled players can be wiped out by picking the wrong option in a parry.
There is a great deal of skill to develop in Splatoon 2, primarily due to the team-based play, the roles that can be filled, and the different qualities of the weapons.
Ninjala’s team-based play can encourage a similar learning curve, but there are fewer roles to stake out due to there being fewer weapons and fewer distinctions.
In the Battle Royale mode, the confined nature of the free-for-all leaves less space for strategic play within the time limit, with the luck of the parry holding enough weight to sway matches.
Ninjala vs Splatoon 2: Story Mode
As it stands, Ninjala has one segment of its Story Mode, with the DLC featuring a stop-start set-up which flicks between short spells of gameplay and storytelling from a graphic novel. It takes less than an hour to complete.
Splatoon 2 boasts an extensive Story Mode that, in itself, makes the game a worthy pick-up. It is calculated to take just over seven hours to complete the Main Story, twice that to complete the extras on top, with the Octo Expansion adding another ten hours of story, per How Long to Beat.
Ninjala currently offers about an hour (being generous) of the story for £7.99 ($9.99), whereas Splatoon 2 offers upwards of 17 hours of single-player story for £67.98 ($79.98) at the most.
This makes the Splatoon 2 story cost around £4 per hour at the lower end of time spent playing range, and without considering all of the game’s other features.
Ninjala vs Splatoon 2: Customisation
Customisation items and the range of customisation is a big deal to online players as their avatar’s appearance is what essentially makes them real and recognisable in the game world.
As much as cosmetic items are pushed aside by some as not influencing the gameplay, they absolutely do and are a major draw for many players, even if they don’t impact game performance.
Ninjala is filled with hundreds of customisation items, featuring a store that updates each day with new cosmetic items to buy.
Without paying real money, however, you can only use default faces, default hairstyles, default voices, and the default costume. Also without paying, you can earn some weapon skins, communication stickers, and music.
However, for the glut of the cosmetic items in Ninjala, you’ll need to pay in the premium currency. Headgear, facial accessories, battle emotes, further weapon skins, and costumes are all locked behind the paywall – with featured two-item ensembles costing 2000 Jala (£15.98/$19.98).
In Splatoon 2, the player customisation options span skin colour, species, eye colour, gender, hairstyles, and legwear. There aren’t too many options to pick from in these sections, but the game also offers a plethora of other cosmetic items known as ‘Gear,’ which can be unlocked by playing the game.
The Ninjala cosmetic items cost premium currency and don’t impact your in-game performance – with that factor being influenced by the Shinobi Cards that are upgraded with the earned virtual currency of the game.
Splatoon 2 cosmetic items come under the cost of entry and have up to four abilities to enhance the character.
Ninjala vs Splatoon 2: The Winner
It’s almost unfair to compare the two games, seeing how vastly different they are under the surface and in age, but this comparison was made to find the better game.
Ninjala is still very young, and while being free to play online without a subscription makes it very accessible, it is riddled with attempts to coax microtransactions and needs more adding to it before it sheds the sense of being a rather shallow experience.
There is skill to be developed, and the weapons vary enough to allow you to enjoy playing in your preferred style, but it needs updates and additions to reach the upper-echelons of multiplayer battle games.
Splatoon 2 is a beloved franchise, and rightfully so: its online multiplayer scene is as addictive as its expansive single-player modes. Fundamentally, it’s a deep, well-balanced, and exciting game that encourages players to develop skill through experience.
At least on the Switch, Splatoon 2 is easily one of the best online multiplayer games going.
Being a free game, Ninjala will undoubtedly uphold strong audience numbers, but the developers need to use this to build the game to be a much deeper and more varied experience. Until then, Ninjala can’t hope to rival Splatoon 2.
In the comparison of Ninjala vs Splatoon 2, it seems that you do, indeed, get what you pay for.