‘Splatoon 3’ takes shooters a little less seriously

In Splatoon 3, the latest in Nintendo’s shooter series, pitched battles are fought with all the gravity of water gun fights between kids. Big-eyed cartoon kids in colorful street clothes engage in combat in open-air industrial wreckage, firing paint bullets and lobbing ink-filled grenades at the terrain and at each other before transforming into flexible squids and returning to their anthropomorphic form again. They pelt each other with splatters of shiny goop, taking aim with Nerf-style sniper rifles, pistols, and machine guns. Players explode into non-existence as they get drenched in opposing colors and jump back into the fight after a few seconds on the sidelines spent checking out the loadout of the person responsible for their defeat.

The format, if not the form, of Splatoon 3 it may sound familiar. That’s because it’s a modern shooter, despite being one whose familiar rhythms of lizard-brained action and team tactics are communicated through a cheeky, lively pop cartoon aesthetic completely different from the more familiar military theme we’ve seen. dominates the rest of the genre.

From its single-player and co-op modes to its true highlight: competitive matches pitting color-coded teams against each other to see which side can suck up more of the battlefield with the paint on their side.splatoon includes many of the trimmings you’d expect from a Obligations multiplayer mode or Fortnite extensive menu catalog of character appearance customization options.

The big difference is that splatoon ditches the realistically modeled assault rifles and emphasizes those games’ corporate-friendly branded costumes in favor of shops that unlock more creative fare, like Looney Tunes-style weapons (including a giant paintbrush and bucket) and shoes that improve the attributes of the characters, hats and blouses. (splatoon, unfortunately, is not entirely immune to the allure of brand crossovers. Fortunately, his publicity collaborations are still rare enough to seem like novelties and not core features whose inclusion dominates the game’s look.)

Like most modern multiplayer shooters, Splatoon 3 keeps its players engaged through intertwined promises that time spent with the game will make them more adept at shooting enemies and that each match will lead to a constant stream of experience points useful for unlocking new weapons and options. appearance. However, unlike those games, splatoon it’s designed to offer consistent superficial rewards to audiences who aren’t interested in high-stakes competition.

Even in its third inning, the game is consistently brisk, filled with a sort of sideline doodle creativity and a childish desire to simply splatter colors on various surfaces. Characters sport mischievous grins as they bounce through levels spewing paint in all directions, emerging from matches to wander through a central city modeled after the dense urban centers, surrounded by skyscrapers and adorned with urban center neon signs. real.

By splatoon‘s playful post-apocalyptic, post-human ocean theme, weapons and clothing are bought from shops run by either a talking muscular crab (“Mr. Coco’s Crush Station”) or a fashionista jellyfish (“Man-o’-Wardrobe” of Jel La Fleur). ”). The most committed and high-end gamers don’t dress in ghillie suits, bulletproof vests, or costumes that make them look like Marvel superheroes; in splatoona devoted player might show off their expertise by arriving into battle wearing a particularly killer pair of sneakers or a cute hat sold to them by a bipedal nautilus named Gnarly Eddy.

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