Splatoon 3 Review – Splat Me Once, Splat Me Thrice

    Title: Splatoon 3
    Developer: Nintendo NPD
    Release Date: September 9, 2022
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: Nintendo
    Genre: Action, Multiplayer

Ahh, Splatoon. Leave it to the minds of Nintendo to make a shooter game fun for all ages. And with great success too, alighting sales charts in Japan and worldwide. Today, we’ll be looking at Splatoon 3, the third title of the Splatoon series developed by Nintendo’s NPD department, or as they call it, the “Squid Research Lab.”

In Splatoon 3, players head to the Splatlands, also known as the Land of Chaos. This chaotic-esque theme coincides with the winner of the Final Splatfest of its predecessor. Most modes maintain the same rules as their Splatoon 2 counterparts, but they all add something new into the mix. After all, why reinvent the wheel when you can improve it? 

First, let’s talk about Salmon Run. Some new hazard events have been added compared to its predecessor, though it still retains the three-wave format. From time to time, however, you’ll also have to defeat Cohzuna, the humongous Salmonid that appears randomly as an extra wave. Now, as to why Mr. Grizz requires so many Golden Eggs…your guess is as good as mine, right?

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Now, let’s talk about online modes. Starting with the Turf Wars, where eight players battle together in two teams of four and see who can ink the most turf with their team’s color. Pretty simple in practice, but don’t let this seemingly simple objective fool you, or you’ll be splatted soon. Then you have your Anarchy Battles, which have four different minigames that rotate on a per-hour basis.

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Customization is one of Splatoon 3’s most significant changes so far. Alongside your player level, you have something called the “Catalog Level,” and increasing that will get you new titles and decorations so you can make your locker and tag to show off to your friends online. Furthermore, you can easily change your name without going to your Nintendo Switch profile, and heck, you can even select the region of Splatfests you can play in! No more part hooping required.

That being said…I would be remiss, not to mention the connection errors that happen constantly. It seems the situation hardly improved from the Premiere Splatfest, and I cannot count just how many times I had someone disconnect during Salmon Run or even the game outright crashing randomly at times. There’s also the given case where due to how the server registers kill, you’ll constantly face the situation where an opponent can still splat you in the short period it takes for your splat to be considered.

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Next, we have the offline portion of Splatoon 3, Hero Mode, a fun little “tutorial” but with a story that takes inspiration from both the Octo Expansion and the regular story mode from previous entries by having you clear a series of challenges with pre-determined weapons. These challenges range from using as little ink as possible to defeating enemies as quickly as possible.

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Clearing the challenges will earn you Power Eggs that you can use to make your Smallfry eat the Fuzzy Ooze that plagues the abandoned city of Alterna and rescue the Giant Zapfish…for the third time. Furthermore, you can collect Sunken Scrolls and fill up the Alterna Log, which provides insight into how humanity met its untimely demise. Finally, you can clear the base content of Hero Mode within just a few hours. Still, its final stage can offer a very challenging and extended play, testing every single weapon and technique possible, and the lore is just…fantastic, for the lack of a better word.

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In addition, for the first time in the series, you can back up your single-player progress via cloud saving! This might sound like a mundane addition, but it’s a big plus considering you’ll need an active Nintendo Switch Online subscription even to access half the features of Splatoon 3. Also, no more losing your progress after your Nintendo Switch breaks or doesn’t work anymore. (I learned that the hard way…)

Splatoon 3 has come a long way since the series’ inception on the Wii U and has become one of my favorite competitive games to date, shining brightly with its new quality of life improvements. There’s still a lot on the horizon for this game, given that there are promises to keep the updates coming until 2024, but as it is, you will not regret spending on this fantastic title. Splatoon 3 is getting a 9 out of 10.

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Score:
9/10
A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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