Splatoon 3 – Game Review


Splatoon 3

(available for Nintendo Switch only)

Splatoon 3 has finally made its way to Nintendo Switch after being announced in February of last year. It’s no surprise that Nintendo wanted to have a new Splatoon title, considering how huge the franchise is in Japan and worldwide- evidenced by the fact that it sold 3.7million in Japan alone on its opening weekend, which is an insane sales figure.

I picked up the game but I’m coming from the perspective of being a casual Splatoon fan. I occasionally would hop online to play the previous game but it eventually got to the stage where I was only playing it anytime it was on the Executive Producer Squad play test session of Good Vibes Gaming (one of the perks you access when you’re on a particular tier of their Patreon) so I had a good amount of people to play with and a good back and forth conversation with other players.

I definitely had some issues with Splatoon 2, since it didn’t really feel like it was a significant update from the first Splatoon, which wasn’t even that old at the time. There’s some people complaining that there still hasn’t been enough time between 2 and 3, even though there’s been more time compared to 1 and 2. Splatoon 2 came out in 2017 so we've had a 5 year gap!

Anyone saying that Splatoon 3 is just a £50 DLC clearly hasn’t actually played the game. This is definitely a significant update that was worth making a new game for. There’s a lot of new content and while it does stick to the main skeleton of the previous games, it feels like it was made to take advantage of the Switch hardware. Though I will also say that it’s not really a graphical update- there’s not a major leap in terms of visuals, but it does look better (although that may be due to playing it on my Switch OLED).

The servers for 1 and 2 are still up at this point in time, so on that basis, is there enough here to warrant picking up Splatoon 3?

PROS

● Multiplayer Gameplay

The multiplayer is still great here. For one thing, Salmon Rush (the PvE mode) is no longer restricted to certain times of the day- you can play it 24/7. They’ve also added more to it! There’s some new bosses in place, including a new superboss that requires multiple playthroughs to unlock but provides an excellent challenge and comes with a brilliant set of its own unlockables, which adds an extra layer to the game. The main multiplayer map modes are here as well, you have the Terf Battle, which involves getting the majority of your colour ink on the battlefield before the time runs out, but there’s also Rainmaker and Tower Control here as well. At the moment, the game has a good mix of new maps and returning maps from previous games, although a few are missing here. Fans of Moray Towers that made it into Smash Brothers will be upset to find out that it’s not here. However, Nintendo has promised that new content will be delivered down the line and they are known to keep their promises when it comes to Splatoon. Plus, unlike many of their other multiplayer games from recent memory, this one feels like it’s coming in with a lot of content and doesn’t feel as though they’ll be filling in the gaps in future.

If you love the multiplayer of the old games, you’ll like this one. All of the weapons that you liked are back, but more are going to be added in the game. There are new kinds of weapons- a bow and arrow as well as a katana like weapon known as the ‘Splatana’. I wasn’t a fan of either of these, I stuck mostly to the blasters and paint rollers as usual.

● Load Times

Splatoon 1 and 2’s biggest issues were that the load times weren’t great. Splatoon 3 vastly improves on this! For one thing, even though you can’t skip the broadcast explaining the multiplayer maps at startup, you can now put it in the background, turning it into a radio broadcast instead of a television one. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but that really makes a big difference! I get into games way faster now compared to the previous games.

● Card Game

This is a new minigame that was added and while I didn’t think that I was going to be massively into it, I surprisingly have enjoyed it a lot more than expected. You collect the cards through levelling up your merchandise level as well as performing tasks in the single player content to build your own deck. While there is a lot of trial and error to it, once you get the hang of it, it’s a really awesome game and provides a lot of challenges as you go along. You can challenge the residents of Splatsville as well as ghost versions of other players. However, online multiplayer is not available for this at this point in time. If it had online multiplayer I think that I would spend even more time on it, and as a whole, I think it’s an excellent minigame for your downtime.

● Single player

Single Player has never been something that I’ve really enjoyed about Splatoon games but this one has excellent single player! I think that this is a real improvement from the other games. It does sort of fall into a repeat from the second game, but this one has some excellent courses and the boss fights are also brilliant. I thought the game wasn’t going to do much for me and that it would just be something I would complete for the review, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I did every single course in the game except for one that was extremely difficult.

● Amiibo Support

Splatoon 3 really gives you some excellent content for your Amiibo support. It’s only focused on the Splatoon line of Amiibos, so you won’t get much of the benefit unless you’re like me and have collected almost all of the Splatoon Amiibos. I found that I got some brilliant gear to start my game out, one of the Amiibos came with Samurai armour, for example. I don’t know what the newest Amiibo that comes with the game will get you, because at the time of this review it hasn’t been released to the public yet. Plus, the Amiibos can be part of your photo mode as well. Put it this way, I wouldn’t say that it’s essential, but if you can get them, I would recommend doing so. The Inkling Amiibo from Smash Brothers is also compatible with the game, though don’t register it to be a part of Splatoon 3 as you might lose your Smash Brothers data. I believe you can scan it without rewriting the data.

● Soundtrack

It’s a Splatoon game, the soundtrack is excellent. The only minor complaints I have is that I’m not a huge fan of the new version of ‘Splat Attack’, since I don’t think that this one hits as

well as previous versions. While I don’t think it’s my favourite version of ‘Calamari Inclination’, I think that the game has a good version of it also. The new songs are really good, I think my new favourite one is ‘Anarchy Rainbow’, which is a shame because it only plays when a Splatfest is on.

MIXED

● Splatsville

I think that Splatsville is improved from the first one, that one just felt like a Hub area that only existed for the sake of the multiplayer. Splatsville now feels like a completely lived-in place, there’s a lot more to explore this time. But there’s not that much more in it this time. There’s only the shops, the multiplayer hub, and the card game table. I would have liked some more random sights on the way, like recreational areas or some interesting places to explore. It feels like it serves its function but I would have liked it more.

CONS

● Connection issues

I haven’t gone a single day playing this without some kind of connection issues, and I have pretty good WiFi. I know it varies from person to person and it wasn’t the fact that my connection was failing, but there was always one person that would disconnect from the room and the game would be forced to restart.

I think that the game struggled for the amount of players during the Splatfest that happened during the review. During the deserted island Splatfest, I found it almost impossible to get into a tri-colour challenge (the three-team battles). Now luckily for that one, I wasn’t on Team Fun, since the team that’s in the lead can’t pick tri-coloured battles, as I discovered when I was in Team Scissors during the Rock, Paper, Scissors that was done for the Beta test. When I was Team Grub for the desert island test I found it almost impossible to get into a tri- coloured battle, I did barely any and I was selecting them constantly! It often booted me out of the lobby or put me into a normal match.

I hope that the development team is working through these issues. Luckily, I haven’t had issues that bad that I’ve had a temporary ban from the game, and majority of my games went well with no issue.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Splatoon 3 is a massive step up from the last two games. I think that it’s really worth jumping in. I wouldn’t say I’m an avid Splatoon fan at this point but I’m definitely more into the games now than I was before since the game is more user friendly. The menus are better, there’s more to do, the content is very enjoyable, and the game just overall feels like it’s a much more streamlined product. The connection issues have dampened my opinions slightly, and I would like them to update with more content soon, but as a whole, I really liked this game. If you haven’t got into this game series yet, this is the entry you should do so with.

Final Score 9.4/10

Calvin
Director of Axia ASD Ltd.
Self-proclaimed Nerd Consultant
and Head of Axia’s Film Society.

And now Elliot’s review

When it first came out I was not expecting to love Splatoon nearly as much as I did. It was one of the first games I got for my Wii U and quickly became an addiction to me. It has since become one of my favourite Nintendo franchises – only being beaten by The Legend of Zelda – and one of the few multiplayer exclusives that I play and thoroughly enjoy. So as you would expect I was incredibly excited when Nintendo announced Splatoon 3 in their February 2021 Nintendo Direct. More information would be slowly released throughout the next year and a half and was eventually released on 9th September 2022 for Nintendo Switch.

 Splatoon 3 takes place five years after the events of Splatoon 2 in a new location called the Splatlands, a desert land inhabited by both Inklings and Octolings. The story told in the single player mode is very similar to the previous games in the series. Just like the previous games the Great Zapfish has been stolen by a race called the Octarians, and are tasked by Craig Cuttlefish (who everyone calls Gramps) to take on the role of Agent 3 and stop DJ Octavio. However, after battling and defeating DJ Octavio you learn that it was not him who orchestrated the theft of the Great Zapfish this time. Not long after learning this, the ground beneath you cracks and you fall into the chasm, later finding yourself in Alterna, a snow filled land that has been riddled with some kind of fuzzy ooze. Missing your Hero Suit and Gramps, you must now wander through this mysterious land in order to find both Gramps and the Great Zapfish. Honestly, the story isn’t really that important, it’s more just background for the single player portion of the game, which we’ll come back to in a bit. 

In comparison to Splatoon 2, the game’s graphics haven’t had any major improvements. The character models have been slightly changed – the body proportions are a little improved and they have more pronounced necks – but outside of that the game looks pretty much the same. This may sound a bit like a complaint but I don’t actually mind this, Splatoon 2 already looked very good with little to improve upon in my mind, so this game looking just as good is honestly a plus for me. The main difference in presentation is more aesthetic. Some of the stages and main hub feel a lot more rundown than they do in any of the previous games, which definitely adds to the desert setting and the lore they’re trying to imply – which is supposedly that the aftermath of the last Splatfest caused this destruction. Music is very much the same as the previous games, in battles the music is very upbeat and loud, which works very well with the punk vibe that the game’s going for. When in Splatsville however, their music is a lot more softer, but still retains the upbeat sound that the rest of the music has, while also throwing in a couple of Japanese wind and string instruments to go more with the game’s aesthetic. 

As mentioned, the story almost exclusively takes place in the Single Player Mode of the game. In this mode you’ll go through the barren snow lands of Alterna, completing levels across each of the sites. Throughout these sites you’ll notice some kind of ooze halting your progress, your little buddy can eat the core of these mounds of ooze however they will cost you a certain number of Power Eggs in order to do so, though these Power Eggs are easy to obtain as you’ll get a decent portion of them every time you beat a level. As for these levels, they very much mimic the ones from the previous Splatoon games, essentially obstacle courses that you’ll have to shoot your way through. These courses will require you to use a variety of Weapons and mechanics to surpass them. In my mind at least, these can act like glorified tutorials to teach you how to best use these Weapons or mechanics and can be used as practice in multiplayer. The one downside, for me at least, is that after a while they can get awfully tedious. Most of these aren’t that difficult and those that are border on the edge of being too unfair. 

The main portion of the game, and the area where you’ll be spending the most time is the Multiplayer modes. The main Multiplayer sections are accessible via the Lobby, with its main attraction being the Turf War. I’m sure that if you’ve even just heard of Splatoon you’ll know what the Turf War entails. You and three other players will work together against another team of four to cover a variety of stages in ink over a three minute period, whoever covers the most ground (quite literally) wins. There are twelve stages total in the game – seven recurring and five brand new – only two stages at a time will be available but they will swap out every couple of hours, and you’ll quickly find your favourites and your least favourites. Unlike the other Splatoon games, there isn’t a stage in this game that I disliked, all the maps are very open with few linear pathways, which I found to be a problem in the previous games. 

As well as regular Turf Wars, you can also take part in Anarchy Battles. These take the place of ranked battles from the previous games, where teams of four take place in games that are different to what you’re normally used to. Instead of gaining levels, you increase in ranks starting from C- and going all the way up to S+. Your rank will change depending on how many games you win, with the risk of losing rank if you lose too many. You can play this in one of two ways, you can play an Open game which works pretty much the same as normal games would, or you can play in a Series where you’ll play a number of games with complete randoms (in other words, no friends allowed), with the goal of winning five games in a series and avoiding losing three. 

When it comes to Anarchy Battle modes there are four in total. The first being Splat Zones, where there’s a small designated zone in the centre of the map that you have to fill with your team’s ink, the team who keeps it for the longest wins. While this mode is a lot of fun, it’s probably the least chaotic. If a team has the space filled for a really long time it can be very difficult for the other team to win. Though those games don’t happen too often, and the game still has less predictability and most multiplayer games do. 

The next game is Tower Control, which is honestly my favourite. The aim is to stray a tower with your ink and have it automatically follow a path further into your opponents territory, go through checkpoints and reach the goal. The reason why I love this one is because of how unpredictable and chaotic it can get, it’s super easy to take the tower so it can constantly fluctuate with who’s in the lead. It’s honestly a lot of fun. 

Thirdly is Rainmaker. There’s a weapon in the centre of the stage called the Rainmaker, that your team has to obtain and bring over to the goal in your opponent’s turf in order to win. Take the chaos that Tower Control has, ramp it up dramatically and you have an accurate depiction on how these games can get. Because it’s the players having to carry and use the Rainmaker it just leads to the entirety of the other team to just gang up on you. The only issue I really have with it is the same with Splat Zones, if your opponents get too far with it it can be really difficult to take back the advantage. Really fun outside of that though. 

The final mode is Clam Blitz. Where players have to collect clams spread around the map and try to score them in their designated goals. I’ve only played a few of this mode, and I can confirm that this is my least favourite by a large margin. For starters, teamwork is really less of a factor in this mode, because everyone is collecting their own shells there’s less opportunity to work together compared to the other modes. Second, this is easily the one that’s most likely to end because the timer runs out. It just gets really frustrating after a while and out of all the modes in this game, it’s the only one I find myself avoiding. 

Outside of that, not only do you get into games much quicker, but when you’re waiting in the lobby there’s a small practice area in the Lobby so you can practice for a small time making the wait a lot less boring. 

All Weapons from previous games make their triumphant return with the inclusion of a couple of new ones. The ones you’ve likely seen more coverage for are the Stingers, these are bows and arrows that you can either fire rapidly to cover a wider space in sacrifice for distance, or you can charge them up to launch a stronger shot that goes further. To join them are the Splatanas, these work a lot like the Brushes, as you tap the fire button rapidly to swing the weapon and spray ink or you can charge it up for a more powerful swing. As well as Weapons, there are also a number of Special Weapons that return from previous games as well as some newcomers. These act as special attacks that you’ll have to charge up, simply by spraying your ink over, to use. Some of the more notable ones including the Crab Tank, this will summon, as the name would suggest, a tank that you ride with a rapid fire attack that will get faster the longer you use it and a single shot attack that will cover a large amount of space. Another one is Tacticooler, a beverage cooler that the other players can run, doing that will give them a small buff for a small amount of time. You’ll unlock more weapon combinations as you level up so feel free to experiment, the more you do, the more likely you’ll be to find your favourite combo.

If you need a bit of an edge in combat, or you want your character to look a bit more stylish while you’re battling in Turf Wars, the Threads have made their glorious return. Not only do these make your Squid look all the better, they also give slight benefits to you in game, like charging up your special weapon quicker or allowing you to carry more ink for your main weapon. All of these Threads look really cool and you’ll find benefits no matter which combination you decide to go with. 

The final major game mode is Salmon Run. You work in (of course) a group of four as you fight off creatures called Salmoniods, survive over the course of three waves and collect Golden Eggs from the bosses you defeat. At the beginning of each run you get a random weapon out of four that will change at the beginning of each wave as well as a random Special Weapon that you keep throughout the run and have a limited number of uses of. As said the main goal is to fight the Salmanoid Bosses that will come in at random. Each one has a very specific, yet uncomplicated, way to kill them and will drop three Golden Eggs that you have to collect in order to reach the quota required for that wave. These bosses are a lot of fun and will be the most likely hindrance that will kill a run for you. This mode in general is a lot of fun, being able to work with other players for once rather than having to work against them is a breath of fresh air, the matches never feel too short nor do they outstay their welcome. 

Of course, Splatfest makes its glorious return as well. Splatfest is an event that happens on occasion where players pick between two teams, depicted by answers to a question (mostly which of these things do you prefer), and players on both teams fight one another to prove that their choice is superior. Unlike the other two games however, this time the players have to pick between three choices, and at times it can even lead to three-way matches (sadly I wasn’t able to take part in any and I don’t want to delay this review any further). At time of writing we’ve had two Splatfests and I can happily say that I’m eagerly awaiting the next one.

The only real downside that I can really think of with this game is that people, at time of writing, are reporting numerous communication errors, which leads to you and other players disconnecting. While personally I haven’t experienced this as often as others have, it is still annoying when it does happen. The only other one is that, if you’re already not a fan of the game, or you’re looking for this game to have any major differences, then you’re not really gonna be getting anything out of it. Just like with Splatoon 2, this game is more of the same with some improvements and a few additions. While personally this isn’t an issue for me as more of the same is pretty much what I’m looking for, if you’re wanting anything more you’re gonna be disappointed. 

As mentioned Splatoon is one of my favourite game franchises, so it was pretty much inevitable that I would end up enjoying this. It’s more of the same as the previous games, but that’s all it really needed to be as it still holds up as one of the best multiplayer games that exist. If I had to point you to any game in this series that I would recommend then it would be this one. I fully recommend that everyone pick up this game and give it a try, especially if you’re a fan of any of the previous Splatoon games. 

9.5/10

Elliot Chapman
Anime Amigo and Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia6th March 2024
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