JOYSTiCK Ep. 7: ‘Splatoon 3’ – The skeleton in the closet

By: Daniel Kendle

Let’s start off with a metaphor. You like metaphors, right? Yeah you do.

So, you and your fictional partner have decided to adopt a dog. Cool! All you have to do now is go to a center, pick out a mammal, and get ready to have your life changed for the next 15 years.

After the dog comes home on September 8th, 2022, the 2 of you are ecstatic. Playing with the pup, feeding it, spending all of your waking moments with the thing for about 2 months. You’re in bliss.

Then you just kinda…forget it exists.

Your partner and you decide on taking a vacation to the Bahamas for a week, letting your cold-ridden bones be rejuvenated in the warming sun. You come back home, happy and still carefree, and you see a decrepit body on the floor of your living room. Now, how did that get there?

Oh yeah, it’s that small creature that existed for a while. The 2 of you have that classic “aha!” moment, before realizing you probably just incidentally committed a crime.

Hello, and welcome once again to JOYSTiCK, the HPSH serial where we explore and review video games. ‘Splatoon 3’ is the 3rd entry in Nintendo’s flagship ‘Splatoon’ franchise, which is about humanoid squids shooting Nerf guns. Fun!

But there are obviously some big questions to answer here. How does the game compare to prior entries? How is it as a kid-friendly FPS Shooter? And how many corpses is Daniel (the author) hiding in his basement? None of these, and more, will be answered in the first JOYSTiCK entry after a 1.5 month-long hiatus.

PART ONE: GAMEPLAY

‘Splatoon 3,’ like many other projectile-based shooters, have both a single-player and multiplayer campaign. The single-player campaign I won’t be touching on today, because within the vast expanse of time, I don’t wanna waste my time proclaiming, “It’s okay.”

‘Splatoon’ functions on giving you a variety of different weapons, all of which come with several types of sub-weapons. They all focus on the gameplay element of spreading ink, the replacement of bullets because, you know, “kid-friendly.”

As one would expect from this style of game, you play in matches against other players, with 4 players forming each team. The 2 teams each get a certain color that they spread across the battlefield, also using said weapons to eliminate other players and send them reeling back to the fringes of the turf war. There’s also a 3 minute time limit before the match it’s over. You can’t permanently remove players from the match; they’ll just continually respawn.

As to my thoughts on this shake-up of the FPS formula, I’m…mixed about it. On the one hand, spreading ink instead of shooting bullets is honestly more fun. However, I will say that, while I don’t personally play many games involving guns, the one’s I do (‘Metroid Dread,’ ‘Enter the Gungeon’) involve a good amount of strategy with it in how you go about killing enemies. Positioning, type of weapon, preserving ammo, and much more all go into combat.

Meanwhile, ‘Splatoon 3’s’ main method of strategy merely relies on what weapon you choose, and its attributes. Some are arguably better than others, but besides that, there’s not much to it. Granted, I’m far from the most skilled or in-depth player around, but from my experience, positioning and preserving ammo (or ink, in this case) are more of an annoyance than key gameplay element. Since ‘Splatoon 3’ focuses on spreading ink rather than shooting others, the game turns into you standing around, trying to cover over the other team’s ink. Of course, you can eliminate others, though it’s really just to get them to stop spreading ink so you can spread ink.

Having to slink into ink using your “squid form” to regain ammo is nice though. I like being able to quickly dot around the map to regain high ground or whatever. It does make me wonder how this feature would’ve worked due to, early on, the characters being all weapon-possessing bunnies instead of squid-human things. (Monty Python fans rejoice.)

Like I said, I’m mixed on this. I definitely get enjoyment out of the chaos of trying to shoot globs of multicolored secretion over the maps, but the fact that action comes at the expense of some good ol’ strategic thinking is somewhat disheartening. Plus, matches are so short that you can’t do much to “stake-out” or whatever. Patience is useless in this game.

To be more light-hearted, I do quite like the weapons. Since they’re the main source of variety in matches, they all are pretty different from each other, coming in different categories and types. Some deal ranged damage. Some deal melee damage. Some both. However, the wide variety of ways to dish out ink is nice, and provides some much-needed depth.

In terms of other gameplay, we get some interesting…things (I’m running out of vocabulary). Like many other multiplayer shooters we have a lobby, as well as a hub world. The lobby’s pretty simple; just a small area with some obstacles that you’re able to ink, as well as a training dummy. However, the hub world is where it’s at.

You get this nice city square to explore, full of shops, other player’s avatars and other things to discover. Your weapon of choice is removed, and the game instead opts for you just walking around. The only bad thing about this is that the Switch starts to chug at 30 FPS, which is honestly expected, seeing as the console’s 6 years old.

The world, known as Splatsville, is located in the Splatlands, is a nice place. Full of Splat-buildings with their Splat-foods and their Splat-squids using their Splat-guns-!

Apologies…I get carried away whenever I attempt to write that part.

Anyways, Splatsville looks good. It has both a very open, yet cluttered atmosphere; there’s plenty of darkened alleyways and spindly balconies hidden among the colorful streets. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this little piece of the world, even if it isn’t all that big. It just feels very lived in, you know?

If you explore long enough you’ll come across the Table Turf card game, basically regular turf matches made into round-based games. It’s good! It definitely has its perks; more slow-paced gameplay, more tactical maneuvers.

The game works where you basically use various different patterns of squares to cover a grid of them. You take a card, play it, and you spread your color based off of the pattern played. It’s definitely not supposed to be a key part of the game, so it being somewhat smaller in scale compared to the main game is understandable. After having played it for a few hours, I can definitely say…it exists.

I guess that’s all I really have to say about the gameplay in ‘Splatoon 3.’ Obviously, there are other parts to the puzzle, but when I review games through JOYSTiCK, I only like to cover aspects of games I play (shocker). Overall, good! While I do have occasional issues with the minute-to-minute action, I generally enjoy the gameplay of this game.

PART TWO: GRAPHICS

As one would expect from a flagship Nintendo title, ‘Splatoon 3’ looks great. The animation is polished, the movement is smooth, the frame rate is (mostly) good. It’s a quality Nintendo game that has that flare of fluid-ness that we’ve come to expect.

Granted, I do feel like this game, in comparison to other games from this company, has animation that’s much more…generic? Normal?

For instance, ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ has graphics and animations that look kinda similar to other Nintendo games, though still has its own unique style. Everything has a more rounded appearance; UI, character designs, etc. The movement of objects has a bouncy feel, and characters are just…cute! This style is one that only works for ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land,’ and that’s that.

Meanwhile, ‘Splatoon 3’s’ animation is somewhat normal, safe. There’s not much putting this ahead of other titles in terms of its graphical fidelity. I guess the skybox is nice? There’s not much to talk about here, and there’s little defining ‘Splatoon 3’ as a different game when it comes to looks. Like I said, it’s good. Just…not anything special. Whenever I saw a trailer for it back in September, I couldn’t immediately tell what game I was looking at until I saw the big title wording or whatever. This game doesn’t exactly have much of a visual identity of its own.

PART THREE: SOUND & AUDIO

Now, you may be wondering: “Mr. Whatsername, why would one care about the sound effects in a video game? All we care about is whether or not you have any bodies in your basement!” And to that, I say 2 things.

  1. I actually think that, for a shooting game, ‘Splatoon 3’ is a very interesting game to look at in terms of audio and sound effects. It’s a detail I think is missing from many reviews, both of mine and other game reviewers.
  2. We’re getting to that.

Sounds for gameplay in video games are something of ambiguity, to say the least. How does one gather the components for, say, the sounds of a flickering flame? It’s a detail many outside of the people who actually make the sound don’t think about. And in my opinion, the audio design in this game is pretty great.

While it’s hard to necessarily define what makes ‘Splatoon 3’s’ noise work so well, I’d argue that the combination of cute, “wobbly” noise we’ve come to expect out of such a cartoony art style and more normal, FPS-shooter sounds is part of it. Such a balance is tricky, but I do say that Nintendo have decidedly laughed at the challenge and said, “Watch me, loser.”

  • The sounds for spreading ink in this game are ultra-satisfying, like you’re watching an ASMR video. They are decidedly – forgive me – moist.
  • I like the little noises that happen whenever a character is talking. The garble is cute, and isn’t annoying; it’s quiet enough to where you can understand that they’re speaking, yet not be distracted by said noises.
  • Whenever you slink through ink, you have this syrupy cue to it, and it makes me hungry. I don’t know why.
  • And while this is technically a song, the little jingle you get after winning a match is simply euphoria.

PART FOUR: CONCLUSION

‘Splatoon 3’ is… weird. If you compare it to all 6 other games I’ve reviewed thus far, it feels like the one where I have the least concise thoughts on it.

  • ‘Metroid Dread’ is my personal favorite game I’ve reviewed, and my personal favorite in-house Nintendo game.
  • ‘Cuphead,’ while flawed, has such a great art style and difficulty that it stands tall amongst the AAA titles.
  • ‘Pokémon Legends Arceus’ is a highly-addictive game with graphics that don’t hurt to look at AS much as before, but they still aren’t great.
  • ‘Minecraft: Story Mode…’ …makes me want to hit something with a blunt object, but still, ‘Minecraft Dungeons’ is great!
  • And ‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ is a pretty solid title as well.

Compared to the lineup, ‘Splatoon 3’ is pretty good, but it definitely doesn’t have as much staying power behind it; there’s nothing as poignant to discuss relating to it. Still though, my verdict is a 7 out of 10. Good…but not much else.

…And that’s this episode of JOYSTiCK done! I plan on this being the last Nintendo game I do for this season (school year), so plan on seeing other Xbox, Playstation and indie titles in the coming months.

Now, that’s all I have for you today, and if you’ll excuse me, I have a few red-stained bags to dispose of. Have a great day!

(Shockingly enough, most of the jokes in this article are, indeed, satire! I hope you’ll be happy to know that Daniel does not have any bodies in his basement; only centipedes and gophers, that’s all).


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