Casual players may see this sequel as simply more of the same, but keen fans will immediately notice that it's loaded with fun additions and improvements that augment and enhance the now familiar core experience. For example, Splatoon 3 plops players in a lobby arena where they can try out weapons and strategies as other players are added to the game -- a great alternative to just sitting and staring at a wall of player names. It also lets you skip those annoying news reports that pop up when you start the game, and adds a customizable locker for kids to deck out with stickers and gear, just like in school. Add in plenty of fun new weapons -- such as the Splatana Wiper, which is essentially a paint-flinging sword in the shape of a windshield wiper -- and Smallfry, a fishy little helper who can be tossed to activate devices and damage enemies in the story mode, and there's no shortage of fun new tactics to learn.
One of the coolest -- and completely original -- additions, though, is the deck-building mini-game Tableturf Battle. Players can collect more than 100 cards, each of which acts as a colored tile to be placed in a Turf War arena. Your goal, as in Turf War, is to cover more of the arena's space with your color than your opponent does with theirs, strategically placing cards to both maximize points and unlock special abilities that can permit some great late-game comebacks when properly exploited. Some players might have hoped that Nintendo would mix things up a little more in terms of mechanics and play modes (like a split-screen mode for playing with friends on a couch rather than forcing each player to have their own Switch and copy of the game), but there's still plenty of new stuff here to explore and master, with weeks and months worth of leveling, all-new Splatfest community competitions, and loads of unlockables. Splatoon 3 may be more iterative than revolutionary, but it's still fun enough that most complaints are just sour grapes.