This article discusses content that is not part of the official Splatoon series canon but is part of the community or competitive gaming space.
The N-ZAP '85 is a mobile, versatile weapon that provides turfing, lethal bombs, and a global special weapon. While its damage is weak, it fires rapidly and accurately, giving its user better fighting capability than some other support weapons, such as the Splattershot Jr..
The N-ZAP '85 is an all-rounded support weapon and a reasonably capable slayer weapon:
- Its greatest advantage is its mobility, which – along with advanced movement techniques, such as sub strafing and ledge canceling – can be exploited to avoid incoming fire, pursue retreating opponents, and quickly respond to opposing pushes.
- Its movement speed while firing (0.84 DU/f) is higher than those of most other support weapons, such as the H-3 Nozzlenose D (0.60 DU/f), the Kensa Splattershot, and even the lightweight Splattershot Jr. and Neo Splash-o-matic (all 0.72 DU/f). Only the middleweight Mini Splatling (0.86 DU/f) and Flingza Roller (1.08 DU/f) have faster movement speeds — but only while firing.
- It has a rapid rate of fire (5 frames between shots), which translates into two advantages:
- It turfs territory quickly, allowing its user to maintain map control, cap Splat Zones, and farm Ink Armor quickly. Maximize the efficiency of your turfing by rocking your aim up and down while strafing sideways.
- It has a high enough damage rate (336 DPS) and good accuracy for its user to hold their own against some opponents.
- Its low ink usage per shot (0.8%) makes it very efficient — more so than more offensively inclined support weapons, like the .96 Gal (2.5%) and the H-3 Nozzlenose D (2.25%). This also allows an N-ZAP '85 user to more liberally use their Suction Bombs.
Despite its versatility, the N-ZAP '85 still has some disadvantages:
- Its damage per shot is low and – unlike the Neo Splash-o-matic – cannot be augmented with Main Power Up. The main weapon will have difficulty breaking through opponents' brella shields and Splash Walls.
- Its short range (116.99 DU) puts its user at a disadvantage in a number of matchups, such as against an opposing user of a slosher (e.g., 120 DU for the Tri-Slosher), a Mini Splatling (130.1-154.1 DU), or Dualie Squelchers (160.396 DU).
- These two weaknesses make an opposing Kensa .52 Gal user (with 52 HP of damage per shot, a range of 124.944 DU, and a Splash Wall) a difficult opponent to challenge. Try to avoid direct confrontations against them and instead focus on easier opponents or other tasks, such as Suction Bomb support or Ink Armor farming.
- They have higher lethal damage (220 HP) and a larger blast radius (80 DU) than Splat Bombs to offset their slower detonation time (two seconds), providing a few advantages:
- They can deny larger areas from opponents, such as around a corner, beneath a ledge, or even behind a Tenta Brella shield (if thrown onto the very top of the shield)!
- The extra damage gives their user a slightly quicker means to damage an opponent's brella shield or Splash Wall, particularly when Object Shredder is equipped (versus Splash Wall).
- The larger blast radius also applies to turf inked, making Suction Bombs very effective at capping or holding a Splat Zone from a safe distance.
- Their ability to attach to surfaces enables their user to plant them on (and deny opponents access to) walls, grate bridges and catwalks (by attaching one underneath), and the Tower.
- Like Splat Bombs, they can be used to poke at and zone out opponents during the neutral phase, flush out opposing anchors from perches, lead a push into opposing turf, stall an opponent's push, or provide space to escape.
- A Suction Bomb can damage or destroy an opponent's brella shield, Splash Wall, or Baller or the Rainmaker shield, while detonating on contact.
- An opponent's Splashdown, Booyah Bomb, or Ultra Stamp will defuse any Suction Bombs it touches, so hold off using them until after their special weapon finishes.
- Time the activation of Ink Armor carefully so that you and your teammates receive its protection before engaging the opponent.
- Try to use Ink Armor when most or all teammates are active. Slayers, who risk getting splatted more often, benefit from Ink Armor more than anchors do.
- Upon activation, Ink Armor will protect its user and their teammates except for those either carrying the Rainmaker or using either Baller or Booyah Bomb. Also, players protected by Ink Armor lose it upon gaining possession of the Rainmaker.
- As a support player, an N-ZAP '85 user is often expected to carry the Rainmaker, usually following the path turfed by their slayer teammates, who push into opposing turf. Whenever possible, farm Ink Armor and use it just before picking up the Rainmaker.
The N-ZAP '85's great turfing, Suction Bombs, and Ink Armor make it an excellent fit in many team compositions. However, make sure to include at least one longer-ranged weapon along with the short-ranged N-ZAP '85, as having a team composition with only short-ranged weapons is often disadvantageous for a number of reasons:
- An opponent with a long-ranged weapon can more aggressively position themselves to zone out the entire shorter-ranged team.
- The opposing slayers can play more aggressively, knowing that there is no long-ranged threat to pick them off from afar.
Because an N-ZAP '85 user provides such valuable support for their team, they will always be a tactical target for the opposing team. Due to their weak damage, they would also benefit from having teammates wielding weapons that are effective at splatting opponents.
- Slayers using poor turfing or ink-guzzling weapons – such as blasters, sloshers, Dualie Squelchers, and the Foil Squeezer – would benefit from an N-ZAP '85 user's rapid turfing, which can pave escape lanes through which they can retreat whenever necessary.
- Teammates using weapons that depend on map control to be effective – most rollers, Squiffers, and Nautiluses – would also benefit from a friendly N-ZAP '85 user's consistent turfing output.
While Ink Armor is a valuable global special weapon, having more than one reduces the number of unique special weapons your team can have. Plus, multiple Ink Armors used by the same team do not stack. Therefore, it would be redundant for a team to have more than two Ink Armor users.
- If another teammate has Ink Armor, they should at least provide something that the N-ZAP '85 is lacking. A friendly Tri-Slosher user would be a good example of this. Thus, while a second N-ZAP '85 user who is willing to adopt a more aggressive playstyle and loadout could be an effective teammate, a Splattershot Jr. or Kensa Undercover Brella user would not be as effective a teammate since both weapons are even less competent in one-on-one matchups.
- An N-ZAP '85 user's Ink Armor can supplement that of a teammate whose weapon has difficulty farming Ink Armor consistently due to slow turfing (Rapid Blaster Pro Deco), a high special gauge requirement (H-3 Nozzlenose D), or both (Custom Hydra Splatling).
While special weapons used in combination are beneficial in general, a user of either Inkjet or Ultra Stamp would particularly benefit from the added survivability provided by Ink Armor:
- An armored Inkjet pilot can fly more aggressively with less worry of getting splatted in one shot by an opponent's blaster, roller, or charger.
- An armored Ultra Stamp wielder is less vulnerable to attacks from either the sides or behind. However, they are easier to spot when submerged in their ink.
An opposing N-ZAP '85 user provides invaluable support – turfing, Suction Bombs, and Ink Armor – for their team. Eliminating them will cripple their team's ability to either push into your turf or repel your team's push. However, do not underestimate their fighting capability.
- One-on-one matchups between N-ZAP '85 users on opposing teams are determined by each player's skill, positioning, turf control, and the presence of any teammates. However, the better N-ZAP '85 user is not always the one who wins one-on-one matchups over the other but the one who supports their team in a more frequent and more timely manner.
- Users of slayer and support weapons with equal or better range and damage over an opposing N-ZAP '85 user usually have an advantage in a one-on-one matchup. However, users of slow-firing weapons (such as a blaster, slosher, or the H-3 Nozzlenose) should respect the opposing N-ZAP '85 user's rapid firing rate and not let them get too close.
- If used skillfully, most brellas (namely, Splat or Tenta Brellas but not Undercover Brellas) and Splash Walls can limit the mobility and influence of an opposing N-ZAP '85 user. However, beware of any Suction Bombs they might throw at your brella shield or Splash Wall.
- The user of any long-ranged weapon, such as a charger or a Jet Squelcher, can not only fire upon an opposing N-ZAP '85 user with impunity but can also deprive the opposing team of Ink Armor. However, should the opposing N-ZAP '85 user sneak up, they can outmaneuver and outdraw their less mobile, slower firing opponent.
- When pursuing an opposing N-ZAP '85 user, be wary of any Suction Bomb traps they might have planted, such as around a corner or under a grate.
- If an opposing N-ZAP '85 user throws a Suction Bomb onto the Tower while you are riding it, you can move to the other side of the Tower and use the stake for cover from the blast. However, be ready to fend off any opponents – including the opposing N-ZAP '85 user – who attempt to attack this other side.
- Keep an eye on the HUD to know when an opposing N-ZAP '85 user has Ink Armor ready to use, and both watch and listen for when it is activated.
- Splatting an opposing N-ZAP '85 user before or while they activate their Ink Armor will prevent it from being applied to their teammates.
- Fight fire with fire by having and using Ink Armor to counter the opposing N-ZAP '85 user's Armor.
- Ink Armor can negate up to 30 HP of damage, so there are a few means to remove an opponent's Ink Armor in one hit:
- Most rapid-firing weapons inflict at least 30 HP of damage per shot, and a few more can reach this threshold with enough Main Power Up.
- Object Shredder triples damage inflicted onto armored opponents, allowing weapons that cannot otherwise inflict 30 HP of damage to remove an opponent's Ink Armor in one shot. Combining Object Shredder with Ink Storm can nearly neutralize armored pushes by the opponent.
- The splash damage of most bombs will destroy the Ink Armor of opponents who have no Bomb Defense Up DX equipped. Burst Bombs are quite effective at this due to their instant explosion and low ink consumption.
Gear abilities provide different effects in battle that benefit the player with their equipped weapon. This is a guide to gear abilities in relation to the weapon. Strategy, synergy, viability, and purpose may be written here.
Ever since its introduction in Version 4.3.0, Bomb Defense Up DX will not only reduce the damage taken from opposing sub and special weapons that are not one-hit-splat but will also reduce the duration of the tracking effects of certain opponent's sub and special weapons, such as Point Sensors and Ink Mines, allowing the user of this ability to evade detection more easily. This is a useful ability for almost any player, including an N-ZAP '85 user. Just three ability points, or one sub, offer plenty of utility:
- The splash damage of most bombs is reduced from 30 HP to 28.6 HP. This reduction in damage provides two benefits:
- It prevents its user from being exposed on their opponents' map by the splash damage of most single bombs.
- Ink Armor will not break due to splash damage from a single bomb whose splash damage normally inflicts 30 HP of damage.
- The splash damage of near-misses from either Tenta Missiles or Inkjet, the minimum splash damage of bubbles, and the collision damage from Baller are all reduced from 50 HP to 48.3 HP, enabling one to survive two hits from any of these specific means of special weapon damage.
Comeback is a headgear-exclusive ability that, when equipped, grants 10 ability points of six different stackable abilities for twenty seconds after respawning from getting splatted by an opponent:
Overall, a just-respawned N-ZAP '85 user can spam their bombs more often, farm Ink Armor more quickly, and more quickly respond to the opponents' push. While Comeback is not commonly used by most N-ZAP '85 users – only present on 17.10% of 1299 builds submitted to Sendou.ink – due to the weapon's supportive nature, it can be useful for a more aggressive playstyle (e.g., for a second N-ZAP user on a team).
Every player, including an N-ZAP '85 user, is expected to come in contact with the opponent's ink on various surfaces, which can both be damaging and reduce mobility. Ink Resistance Up not only partially offsets the reduction in mobility but also delays the damage taken from contact with opposing ink:
Last-Ditch Effort is a headgear-exclusive ability that, under specific conditions, grants its user 1 to 24 ability points each of the following abilities:
These abilities only begin to take effect under either of the following conditions:
- There are at most 30 seconds remaining on the game clock, or Overtime has begun in a Ranked Battle, at which the maximum 24 ability points will be granted for each of the above abilities.
- In a Ranked Battle, the opposing team's countdown has at most 50 points remaining. The effects of Last-Ditch Effort increase as the opposing team's countdown decreases from 50 to 30 points remaining, starting with 1 ability point for each ability and maxing out to 24 ability points.
An N-ZAP '85 user benefits well from the reduced ink consumption per Suction Bomb used, allowing them to spam Suction Bombs during either a crucial defensive stand or a late attempt to reclaim the lead. Thus, over 62% of 1297 N-ZAP '85 builds submitted to Sendou.ink include Last-Ditch Effort.
- It reduces the angle of deviation of the N-ZAP '85's shots when fired from the ground, increasing the main weapon's precision.
- It increases the N-ZAP '85's ink coverage, improving its already amazing turfing ability.
While the N-ZAP '85's damage cannot be increased, these two benefits still markedly improve the main weapon's capability as a support weapon. A large majority of N-ZAP '85 builds – 1036 out of 1299 – typically have 6-9 ability points of Main Power Up:
|Mains||Subs||Angle of devi-
per shot (%)
- It triples the amount of damage inflicted onto armored opponents, allowing them to break an opponent's Ink Armor with one shot from their main weapon.
- It also enables them to pop the Rainmaker shield more quickly with either their main weapon or Suction Bombs, allowing their team to start or restart a push more quickly while gaining a large amount of turf control in the immediate area.
Because the N-ZAP '85's damage cannot be increased with Main Power Up, Object Shredder gives its user a better chance against Ink Armored opponents, making it a popular ability on over 82% of 1299 N-ZAP '85 builds submitted to Sendou.ink.
Quick Super Jump decreases both the "charge" time before and the travel time of a Super Jump, helping its user escape unfavorable situations more quickly. Because an N-ZAP '85 user is expected to reliably provide their team Ink Armor, having the ability to quickly retreat and preserve precious special gauge progress can mean the difference between victory and defeat.
- Three ability points, or one sub, of Quick Super Jump decreases the "charge" time from 80 frames (1.33 seconds) to 58 frames (0.97 seconds).
The N-ZAP '85, an already mobile weapon in humanoid form, can still benefit greatly from Run Speed Up, particularly while firing. Having the ability to strafe more quickly increases an N-ZAP '85 user's survivability, allowing them to last longer in fights to either win them or at least stall them long enough until teammates arrive. Most N-ZAP '85 builds submitted to Sendou.ink that have Run Speed Up equipped have 6-10 ability points:
Special Charge Up accelerates building up the special gauge for Ink Armor, effectively reducing the turfing required. Since farming Ink Armor is one of a few roles of the N-ZAP '85, constantly having Ink Armor available for teammates ensures more successful pushes and counter-pushes.
- Six ability points, or two subs, are enough to reduce the special gauge requirement from 200p to 190p.
- Ten ability points, or one main, further reduce the special gauge requirement to 184p.
A universally valuable ability for almost any weapon, Swim Speed Up is particularly useful for the lightweight, short-ranged N-ZAP '85. Defensively, a faster swim speed allows its user to more easily avoid opponents' attacks and retreat from unfavorable situations more quickly. Offensively, swimming faster enables one to rapidly provide support for teammates and more easily close the distance between themselves and a longer-ranged opponent.
- Six ability points, or two subs, increase the swim speed from 2.02 DU/f to 2.09 DU/f.
- Ten ability points, or one main, further increase the swim speed to 2.13 DU/f.
In competitive play
Throughout Splatoon 2's lifespan, the N-ZAP '85 has competed with other Ink Armor support weapons such as the Splattershot Jr., H-3 Nozzlenose D, or Kensa Undercover Brella for a place on team compositions. The weapon has ultimately remained a decent pick throughout the game's many updates, even if it found itself outclassed by other options at times.
The N-ZAP '85 saw a decent amount use at the start of the game's lifespan despite the existence of the Tri-Slosher, which had more range allowing it to bully short-range shooters like the N-ZAP. While the Tri-Slosher was slayer-oriented, the N-ZAP '85 slots into a support role, being more mobile and having better turfing allowing for more frequent Ink Armors - which was an even more powerful special back then due to having no knockback or damage piercing when broken, as well as a longer invulnerability window. The weapon therefore was nerfed to a 200p special gauge in 1.1.2, but this nerf was slightly undone to 190p in 1.3.0, though that patch also nerfed Ink Armor to compensate, making it more in line with the Ink Armor known today.
Version 1.4.0 would bring buffs to the weapon's mobility, turning it into a lightweight weapon, giving it slightly higher strafing speed while firing, and allowing it to paint its feet better. This allowed it to see a major spike in usage in version 2.0.0, where competitive player Sendou considered it one of the best weapons in the game due to its versatility. In addition, Ink Armor was a strong counter to many of the top threats at the time, such as both versions of the Blaster, the Range Blaster, and the Bubble Blower. Version 2.2.0 would then nerf the N-ZAP '85's special gauge to 210p, ending its prevalence in the game's meta for the time. Going into 3.0.0, the weapon was still seen as viable, and competitive player Sorin noted in his tier list that the N-ZAP '85 was particularly good on larger maps and Tower Control, most likely due to the Suction Bomb, though eventually the H-3 Nozzlenose D became the superior Ink Armor support weapon.
The release of another Ink Armor support, the Kensa Undercover Brella, would further sour opinions on the N-ZAP '85. The Kensa Undercover Brella had a 180p special gauge with decent turfing, and Torpedo was a stronger sub weapon back then, dealing more damage and using up less ink. Furthermore, the addition of Main Power Up gave the H-3 Nozzlenose D the ability to reach 49.9 damage to potentially splat opponents in two hits. The N-ZAP '85 would receive buffs throughout the 4.0 patches such as decreased starting and ending lag from shooting and better feet paint, which when combined with nerfs to the H-3 Nozzlenose D such as higher points for special and requiring more Main Power Up to hit 49.9 damage, would slowly push the N-ZAP '85 back into relevance.
Further nerfs to the Kensa Undercover Brella and Torpedoes would push the weapon out of the meta and see a new Ink Armor support rise up, the Splattershot Jr. During this time, the N-ZAP '85 was considered to be worse than the Splattershot Jr. as the latter weapon fits the support role better, with very good ink consumption thanks to its special ink tank allowing it to spam more bombs, have better turfing, and get Ink Armor faster, especially due to its 180p special gauge. Some situations warranted the use of the N-ZAP '85 due to it being a better fighter, but as a pure support it was outclassed. The N-ZAP did get a buff from 210p for Ink Armor to 200p as well as the Last-Ditch Effort buff in 4.7.0 where it starts to activate when the opponents scored 50 points in Ranked, however, which would become especially important later but did help it see more use.
By version 5.2.0, the N-ZAP '85 returned as a staple of the meta as it shifted to being more main weapon-oriented and being able to fight against the top threats, such as the Custom Dualie Squelchers, Bamboozler 14 Mk I, and Sorella Brella. While it lacks the ink efficiency of the Splattershot Jr. and does not get as many Ink Armors, the former problem is largely mitigated by Last-Ditch Effort and the weapon has more overall strengths than the Splattershot Jr. such as having Suction Bombs, being better at fighting, and having good mobility.
Currently in version 5.5.0, where weapons such as the Kensa .52 Gal sit at the top, the N-ZAP '85 is still a strong support option in the quad shooter meta, lacking the weaknesses of other Ink Armor supports - the Splattershot Jr. and Kensa Undercover Brella lack fighting capabilities, the H-3 Nozzlenose D took a nerf to its ink efficiency in 5.4.0 and has a high special gauge requirement for Ink Armor at 220p, and the Rapid Blaster Pro Deco is vulnerable to being rushed down. Having high object damage thanks to having gear space to use Last-Ditch Effort and Object Shredder is an important strength due to the prevalence of Splash Walls thanks to the Kensa .52 Gal, as well as for countering other Ink Armors.
In competitive play
The N-ZAP '85 was projected to be one of the best weapons on Splatoon 3's launch. It is arguably the best weapon to have Tacticooler currently, and the special was assumed to be very strong even before players got to use it in the Splatoon 3 Splatfest World Premiere due to tweets from Nintendo mentioning how it shortens respawn time. It is now perceived as even stronger due to how many abilities it gives the player, and the fact that it gives 57 ability points of each ability. Chara predicts the N-ZAP '85 will play similarly to its Splatoon 2 version at a competitive level.
In the Splatoon 3 Enter the Splatlands Invitational 2022, the N-ZAP '85 was a very popular choice, with all the competing teams choosing to have one in their compositions on every mode. This happened again at Riptide 2022, with most of the competing teams choosing to run the N-ZAP '85.
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- "PAX East Finals Pt. 3 | Splatoon 2 NA Inkling Open 2019" Game 3, Shak (FTWin) plants a Suction Bomb beneath a ledge, splatting his pursuer, Chara a.k.a. The One (Lowkey)
- "25 USEFUL Splatoon FACTS You SHOULD Know" by Chara, formerly of Prophecy and Climb
- "Splatoon 2 North American Open September 2020 - Finals - Part 3" Game 5, Burstie (FTWin) throws a Suction Bomb onto the Tower, splatting Jared (Starburst) and forcing Ice and Ant (Starburst) to reposition themselves
- "Qualifier Finals Part 2 | Splatoon 2 North America Inkling Open 2019" Game 2, Ross (ɪик Sigma) splats Arashi (Lowkey) with a Fizzy Bomb thrown onto bubbles launched by Astrocities (ɪик Sigma)
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- "Transatlantic Splatoon League 2 Europe Pool Week 5 - RADIANCE vs. Usual Guys" Game 1, Obito (RADIANCE) avoids two Suction Bombs thrown onto the Tower while riding it
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