The Splatoon series is one of Nintendo’s mainline franchises. It is categorized as a third-person shooter with a fun, colorful twist. Players play as either inklings or octolings, which are squid or octopus-human hybrids. In the most popular mode, Turf War, the objective is to use ink-spraying weapons to cover as much of the map in ink as possible.
The first Splatoon game was released on May 28, 2015, for the Wii U, and was a huge success. Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Wii U itself was not successful. Not even two years later, Splatoon 2 was announced for the upcoming Nintendo Switch. Fans were ecstatic, as the original game had needed some changes. Splatoon 2 was released on July 21, 2017, and though greatly improved upon from the first game, it was far from perfect. Online multiplayer was unbalanced, and some things fans had been hoping for were still missing.
Fast forward four years to Feb. 17, 2021. At the end of a Nintendo Direct, an event where the company reveals information about upcoming games in the form of a live stream, Splatoon 3 was announced for the Nintendo Switch. After a long, painful wait for many, Splatoon 3 was just recently released on Sept. 9, 2022.
It can be argued that, even in its initial stage of release, Splatoon 3 is the best game of the series. While it may come as no surprise since this is the most recent game, Nintendo has really taken into consideration what fans want, and also realized some of its predecessors’ flaws. What exactly makes Splatoon 3 so good, though? With an analysis of certain aspects of the game, it’ll all become clear.
First off, the basics. Players have always gotten to choose how their playable character looks, but it has been greatly expanded upon since the first game. In Splatoon 2, hairstyles and legwear were gender-locked, meaning that set options were only available based on which gender a player picked for their character. But, in Splatoon 3, that concept has mostly been removed. Anyone can choose any hairstyle or leg wear they want, no matter which “style” they choose. The only downside is that eyebrow customization is technically gender-locked, since “style” refers to gender in regards to the voice lines that are heard from the character.
Other improvements to character customization include more skin tones, hairstyles, eye colors, and leg wear. In previous games, eyebrows weren’t even customizable, so that extra freedom is a huge plus.
In addition, Smallfry, the character’s companion, is customizable with several rocking hairstyles.
Aside from character customization, there are lockers which also can be decorated by players to show off their style, and Splash Tags that show up in battle.
Splatoon’s soundtrack is known for being favored by many, despite being written in actual gibberish. Another unique aspect about the music is that there are numerous in-game bands who are credited with creating the soundtrack. Among these musicians, the best-known group of them is Deep Cut, which is made up of Shiver, Frye, and Big Man. There is a group of idols in each game, and Deep Cut are the main ones for Splatoon 3. Not only do they sing, but they also run the news show where stages for multiplayer and important events are announced.
Deep Cut’s music is unbelievably good. Their songs can be heard during Splatfests, which are events that take place once a month. Players pick one out of three teams to fight in Turf Wars for. Deep Cut’s music is played both out in the plaza and during battle during Splatfests, and it truly is a fantastic experience.
Turf War and Anarchy Battles
The heart of Splatoon is its multiplayer battles. As discussed earlier, Turf War is the main mode where two teams of four fight to cover as much ground as possible in ink over the course of three minutes. However, there is another type of battles known as Anarchy Battles. These are the ranked matches. The four modes that are available for Anarchy Battles include Splat Zones, Tower Control, Rainmaker, and Clam Blitz. These modes, especially Rainmaker and Clam Blitz, have been improved from Splatoon 2 to run much more smoothly. A system of checkpoints has been added so that teams in Rainmaker can’t be swept in under a minute, and the objective is easier to reach in Clam Blitz mode..
While waiting for a lobby to fill, the test range is available for use to sharpen the players’ skills and pass the time. This is a major upgrade from Splatoon 2, where there was nothing to do in the lobby, and even the original Splatoon, where mini games were available on the Wii U Gamepad.
The weapons and gear that are available for these multiplayer modes have been improved, compared to the previous game. The special weapons that are charged by inking a lot of ground have been changed to be a lot more balanced, as the specials from Splatoon 2 were either difficult to fight against, or very weak. There also aren’t any unfair gear abilities, such as ones that boost the damage main weapons do. Multiplayer simply feels a lot better than it had before. One exception is the special weapon called the Ultra Stamp, which is not as strong as it had previously been. This puts players who use weapons with the Ultra Stamp in its kit at a great disadvantage in battle.
Salmon Run is another multiplayer mode where a team of four fights off salmonids, one of the main antagonists of the Splatoon series. There are three to four waves during which golden eggs have to be collected. These eggs can be picked up from boss salmonids, which can be tricky to fight against. Salmon Run was also a mode in Splatoon 2, but it has been greatly improved in Splatoon 3. Originally, Salmon Run was only available during set times, but now it is always open to play. In addition, more bosses have been implemented.
Overall, the mode is fun, yet can be very intense. Especially after leveling up and gaining experience, it can be action-packed and cause a huge rush of adrenaline in a fight to stay alive.
Return of the Mammalians (Hero Mode)
To preface, there will be no spoilers in this section. All that will be said is that the story mode for Splatoon 3 is incredible. It starts off just like how the previous two games’ stories did, but quickly takes a turn for the worse. It combines the story of fighting octarians to retrieve the Great Zapfish once more with the unique twist of the Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion, a downloadable expansion pack for Splatoon 2 that added a whole other single player campaign to the game. Fans enjoyed Octo Expansion because it not only introduced a brand new storyline, but it brought a sense of originality to the table with how the levels were structured.
Splatoon 3 is absolutely amazing. While it’s still not the perfectly balanced game fans have dreamed of, it gets pretty close to being that. But, with due time and updates, it will be more than anything Splatoon fans have ever wanted. The graphics and interfaces look great, the story is fantastic, and the multiplayer experience is mostly great, generous number of communication errors aside. There’s even more that could be said about the game, but there’s just so much to it. All in all, Splatoon 3 is the best in the series, and the future of the game is beyond exciting.