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Splatoon 3 Review

Splatoon 3

Splatoon 3’s progenitor, the original Splatoon from Wii U can easily be described as one of the true successes of the ill-fated console. Its blend of chaotic multiplayer shooter mayhem and Nickelodeon’s Wild and Crazy Kids-style paint bedlam is peak Nintendo taking a tired idea and reinvigorating it.

Splatoon 2 took on Nintendo Switch took the premise and made it portable. Refinements to the visuals and improved playability thanks to creative super-soaker-inspired weaponry to better splat noobs online ensured its success on the new console. A variation on “horde mode” and Octo Expansion further fleshed out the game design to its absolute pinnacle.

Five years later, how can Splatoon 3 push the formula forward? Between all the adjustments and fine-tuning to the game’s mechanics and an all-new single-player story mode; is Splatoon 3 worthy of being a successor or should it have been a DLC expansion? Find out in this Splatoon 3 review!

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review or read the full review of the below:

Splatoon 3
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: September 9, 2022
Players: 1
Price: $59.99 USD 

Splatoon 3 is definitely a culmination of everything the last two games were working towards. If you’re an eager squid who’s looking to fling some goo in the face of noobs, then this sequel will effectively render Splatoon 2 obsolete.

Just when you think there are no more new ideas for ink-based weapons, Splatoon 3 will catch gamers off-guard. The sword-like squeegee called “splatana”, proves to be an excellent addition; combining fast swings and mid-range ink coverage. Existing weapons have been made more responsive, such as the side-stepping with the dualies feels more fluid.

Aiming with the gyro and analog stick is intuitive and features plenty of sliders to better adjust the sensitivity to any player’s preference. Ink-swimming in squid form has also been made to feel smoother and skilled players can now perform a side-dodge once getting a feel for the input, which is sort of like doing a side-jump in Super Mario 64.

Online play is primarily the same as it ever was. Two teams of 4 squids go into labyrinthine boxy arenas and the winning team is whoever can cover the most surface area in ink within three minutes are the winners. Squids are graded on their performance regardless of who wins, so there is never a match wasted.

Stragglers can earn XP by staying close to the spawn points and mopping up enemy ink. Aggressive gamers can be on the offense and snipe scrubs with a wad of florescent slime and slow their progress. Splatoon 3‘s is designed to be a game even low-skilled players can make a difference but has enough room for those who aspire for a hardcore experience.

Salmon Run mode returns and this time it is no longer gated by a daily time schedule. Splatoon 3 gamers can enjoy this horde mode all day, every day, and this time it has more boss foes than before. The arena can vary with the change of the tide and squids can now throw eggs into baskets from a distance to better facilitate strategies.

If Splatoon 3 is sounding like it is not much of a leap forward compared to Splatoon 2, it’s because it isn’t. The online aspects of Splatoon 3 are undeniably an improvement. Players are no longer locked into a screen of name lists and can freely practice in a room with other players and can customize banners or tags.

Splatoon 3 is made up of many smaller improvements that enhance the experience. It is not a risk taker or a game changer, but once you play Splatoon 3 online; there is no reason to play Splatoon 2 online anymore. The only aspect that makes these games distinct is the single-player story modes.

The single-player in Splatoon 3 is still a series of hub areas where players hop into a kettle and run through abstract stages, squirting and splatting their way to the goal. Stages will push players out of their comfort zone by forcing them to use weapons they would normally never use and bosses have puzzle-like elements to defeat them.

The story is played for jokes and ocean-themed puns, a keen eye will note the frequent mentions of human extinction and hints of a second coming apocalypse for the squids. Lore notes reference a prophecy where Salmonids will one day end the world of the Squids. While playing the Salmon Run mode, it is hard to not ignore the increased aggression of the Salmonids and how they’re evolving.

Evolution has always been a core theme of Splatoon. With the online updates, rotating maps, rebalancing, and new weapons; Splatoon 3 is a game that also will evolve; it is an inevitability that it will further improve.

Splatoon 3 was reviewed on Nintendo Switch using a copy provided by Nintendo. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Splatoon 3 is now available for Nintendo Switch.

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The Verdict: 8

The Good

  • Streetwear and graffiti-pop visuals make an impression
  • Online persistance ensures that the online stays fresh
  • Easy-to-pick-up-and-play style shooting with room for a skill ceiling
  • Story mode is varied and constantly pushes the player outside of their comfort zone
  • Salmon Run is no longer time-gated and is 24-7

The Bad

  • Without a subscription, only story mode is playable
  • Not much of a leap forward compared to the prior two games

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A youth destined for damnation.