TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The "Splatoon" series has always done wonders by somehow making the aggressive nature of shooters palatable for families with young children.
The trick, continued in the Switch-exclusive "Splatoon 3," is to swap out bullets with paint. Rather than take out your enemies, you vie for supremacy in area of control. Using an array of sprayers, attachments and rollers, you race through funhouse-like maps to paint the town red. Or purple, yellow or whatever color you're assigned.
New to the series is a sizable single-player campaign. You complete levels controlled by enemies in the Splatlands, using new weapons, such as a sort of crossbow, to seize control of the area and advance.
More than a glorified tutorial, the mode helps you hone your skills for the true star of the show, multiplayer.
"Splatoon 3" thrives both online and in couch competition.
The main multiplayer mode continues to be Turf Wars, which are four-on-four shootouts that measure how much of the landscape you manage to paint in your color.
The gameplay, though intensely competitive, is colored with a light touch and effervescent sense of humor that helps keep the tone whimsical and even somewhat joyous. There's soothing satisfaction in coating the area in your given color, as well as watching the way the designs emerge as your competitors race to head you off.
While some may gripe that Nintendo hasn't done a whole lot to shake up the formula, it's tough to argue with the publisher/developer's philosophy of not messing with something that works. The campaign does add enough to justify the sequel status.
Released back in 2017 on the Switch when the console was young, "Splatoon 2" struggled with a rickety online setup that was eventually corrected via updates. "Splatoon 3" comes out silk-smooth right out of the gate, continuing the sense of momentum.
"Splatoon 3" is a shooter with a smile, capturing the adrenaline rush and sense of joy of a backyarde water ballon/water gun fight.
Publisher provided review code.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star. He is married and has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.