Splatoon 3 is the third part to Nintendo's popular Splatoon series which originated on the Wii U back in 2015 and has gone on to become an iconic part of Nintendo's main lineup.
The primary focus of Splatoon 3 is multiplayer. In these modes, you form teams of four with other players (don't worry, there are chat features, voice or text) and as a team, set out with your weapons.
Unlike other multiplayer weapony games though, these weapons all have one primary purpose, to paint. Each round spends several minutes and at the end, the team that has covered the majority of the arena wins. If there's an opponent nearby, hit them with enough paint to teleport them back to their team's starting point to throw off their momentum and undo their dirty work.
There is also a story mode for single-player play in which you find the remains of an underground society where you must complete challenging stages and boss fights to uncover the truth.
Splatoon 3 parents guide: Is the game appropriate for kids?
Below we break down the major features of the game and explain whether or not it's appropriate for children to play.
Splatoon 3 violence
Let's face it, despite Splatoon 3 having more than 90 different weapons in the game and them going VERY creatively out of their way to never use the weird gun, even in the weapon descriptions, many of these painting tools look exactly like guns.
We have ones modeled after sniper rifles, chain guns, hand guns, shotguns, bazookas, and more. It's not a subtle similarity either. And if you use the s̶n̶i̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶r̶i̶f̶l̶e̶ Splatterscope to hit your opponent in the head with a well-aimed shot it will instantly defeat them and send them back to the respawn point.
So while the game claims it's just paint it still has a lot of aspects that play like a shooter. Ask anyone who plays the game if they use the weird "defeats" or "kills" to describe how many players that sent back to the spawn and I guarantee you'll get the word kills.
Splatoon 3 creepiness
For the most part, the multiplayer gameplay of Splatoon 3 is completely devoid of any creepiness. But when you start to venture outside those modes things get a little different.
Both the story mode and a co-op mode called "Salmon Run" features you up against computer controlled enemies. These creatures have weird mutated sea life with weird vacant googly eyes.
In Salmon Run, it's not uncommon to have to deal with a massive mutated shark that can come up from underneath you at any time or a seemingly endless swarm of glowing charging fish that singled you out.
In the story mode, you'll face some of the same googly-eyed enemies but the final boss is something completely different. (SPOILER ALERT) The final boss of Splatoon 3's story mode is "Grizz," the person who's been running Grizzco (the people who send you on Salmon Runs) since first mentioned in the first game. It's revealed that he's a massive mutated bear that looks almost like a demonic teddy in the strangest ways. As you beat him, he's able to melt apart his body and reform elsewhere. It's not a pleasant sight in the least.
Splatoon 3 diversity
So, despite the fact that all the main characters are called "Inklings" show are humanoid squids (the humans are long dead, the story mode will cover that for you) there's still a remarkable amount of diversity shown.
Many different skin tones can be chosen for your characters as well as "hairstyles." This is in quotes because you're using tentacles. There are also influences from various countries everywhere. Korean, Mexican, Japanese, and European influences make up a fairly diverse-looking landscape.
Splatoon 3 romance
My household has two kids who are WAY too into Splatoon. They have the games, the merch, and all the mangas (Japanese comics). With my exposure to the Splatoon world, I can honestly tell you that you will not run into any sort of romantic relationship in the Splatoon universe.
In fact, if you really want to get weird with it, the Splatoon artbook mentions that the Inklings are asexual so it's pretty much a guarantee you're not going to encounter anything like that in this or future installments.
Splatoon 3 substance Usage
Despite the fact that you'd probably take two steps into an Inkling arena and pass out from the smell of paint fumes, there's no substance usage here. Unless you really want to go deep and reference the Japanese Nintendo site which once stated the shopkeeper "Flow" enjoys getting drunk at home. But you never see it in the game.
Splatoon 3 swearing
Nope, there's no swearing in Splatoon. Ever. Even the final boss of the game, despite being a massive bear that wants to wipe out civilization, talks to you professionally.
Splatoon 3 microtransactions
While there are no microtransactions in the game as of yet, there is a full transaction in the form of an expansion pass.
At the time of writing, there isn't a lot of benefit to having the expansion pass other than the ability to visit a separate hangout area when not battling. But in the future, the season pass will allow you to get the upcoming expansion to the game which is going to add new modes, features, and story to Splatoon 3. It'll run you about $25 before tax.
It is also compatible with Amiibos, something I have a documented obsession with, if you have any Splatoon-themed ones. Amiibos are tiny statues of Nintendo characters that, with the right game, allow you to unlock in-game items or features. In the case of Splatoon 3, any Splatoon character Amiibo will unlock a wild new costume you can wear in multiplayer battles.
Splatoon 3 positive Messages
Splatoon 3, even in its story mode, is pretty empty in terms of story. As you make your way through the mysterious stages, it is only when you do really well in a stage and find all the hidden stuff that you get treated to journal pages that explain where Inklings came from and what happened to humans (spoiler: nothing good).
As for the journal itself, it's sort of a hackney expression of weak environmental messaging and humanity's hubris. It seems like it sort of says if we don't take care of the environment we'll be forced into a kinda cool series of digital caverns which, honestly, didn't sound that bad. But it also carried with it a fairly negative takeaway.
Splatoon 3 negative Messages
As you uncover journal pages you discover that the humans that survived an environmental disaster survived by fleeing underground. Over time they turn the massive underground caverns into a livable world where they were at peace. They covered the interior of the cavern with virtual screens to accurately replicate the sun, moon, sky, etc. They made it feel like they were still outside and life was pretty good.
But as time went on the next generation of scientists weren't content to live comfortably and wanted to return to the surface far above and maybe even explore space. When they attempted it, the rocket accidentally exploded on its way up causing the cavern to collapse on the last of humanity killing them all.
The journal seems to almost say "if you're good, that's good enough." It felt almost anti-science as it really laid into how much it was the fault of their need to explore and not just the technical malfunction. I collected the journal entries here but here's one excerpt:
"The elders-who knew what awaited outside the safe haven of Alterna-issued stern warnings to the brash young scientists.- Journal 004 from Splatoon 3
Nevertheless, the young scientists pressed on with their plan: the construction of a massive rocket ship to escape Alterna.
Sadly, as the boosters were ignited for the first time during a launch test, tragedy struck.
The energy from the rocket boosters overloaded the cavern’s liquid crystals. A violent and terrible chain reaction ensued.
Without warnin, the stone walls of the cavern began to shatter, raining debris down upon humanity.
Alterna, the last civilization of once-prosperous humanity, was no more. And those few who escaped the carnage would soon follow it into death."
Splatoon 3 age Barrier
The characters in Splatoon 3 make sort of gibberish noises which are translated via text on the screen. Similar to what I said in my parent's guide review of Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, if your kid is having difficulties reading it's going to make the tutorials and some points of the story hard to traverse.
Also, the game controls require your child to know a dual-stick layout. One to move, one to shoot. You can also set it so your kid can use motion controls to aim but sometimes that can cause difficulties if you have a child that doesn't have a good grasp on their immediate area.
Finally, the later levels of Splatoon 3's story mode are OBSCENELY difficult. One of the final stages needed to finish the journal had a final part so difficult I left the game running for four days (so I didn't have to start over at the beginning of the massive challenge) coming back to the system constantly to try something new. And I've been gaming since the early '80s. A kid with little experience might find the task daunting.