Author Topic: Splatoon 3: Side Order (Switch) Review  (Read 1312 times)

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Offline JusDBerube

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Splatoon 3: Side Order (Switch) Review
« on: March 12, 2024, 06:23:40 AM »

Is the main course of Splatoon 3’s DLC as fresh as fans had hoped?

It’s been a long wait for Splatoon 3’s Side Order. First teased in an August 2022 Splatoon Direct presentation, fans had to then wait nearly a year and a half after Splatoon 3’s release to gain access to it as part of the paid Expansion Pass. While it may be called Side Order there is no denying it’s actually the main dish when it comes to the entirety of the premium content. The first part of the Expansion Pass, which was made available nearly a year prior, mostly consisted of access to Inkopolis Plaza from the original Splatoon, which only offered a cosmetic difference to Splatoon 3’s hub world.

Side Order on the other hand offers a Rogue Lite experience set within the world of Splatoon. This is actually a fresh take and I do welcome trying new things with the franchise as the main campaigns are starting to get pretty stale. Players take the role of Agent 8, who is the returning protagonist from the Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion DLC. Upon arriving at Inkopolis Square, the main plaza from Splatoon 2, things are very off as the color and life is seemingly removed. Pearl, one of the members of the idol group/newscast from Splatoon 2, returns but in a weird drone form. What’s going on?

I won’t spoil much in terms of the story but the main goal is to make it to the top of a tower floor by floor, initially, to find Pearl’s other half Marina. The first time you do this is kind of a tutorial mode that makes the max floor 10, but after successfully completing this task player’s will have to make it to floor 30 in order to be successful in subsequent runs.

So how’s this all work? At the start of a run a player selects a Palette, or weapon set, they are locked into for the duration of the run. Each floor then presents the player with three potential challenges to choose from at various difficulties. Different challenges include destroying enemy spawn points, destroying x number of enemies that will run away, Splat Zones, shooting a target until it moves to the end of its path, and getting balls in specific spots. There is also a Cash based reward tied to the difficulty of the challenge, as well as the all important Color Chip.

Color Chips are how you upgrade yourself in Side Order, but these will reset at the end of each run. Color Chips can do all sorts of beneficial stuff such as increase weapon firing rate, lower charge rates, give the Pearl Drone more attacks, and much much more. Choosing a floor that benefits your play style and weapon choice really matters and is a major part of your success in Side Order.

Vending Machines occasionally appear in place of one of the challenges on some floors and allows players to spend their earned cash on all sorts of things. These include the ability to change Sub Weapons, Special Attacks, additional Color Chips, and more. Every 10th floor you’ll also encounter a boss fight. Completing these 10th, 20th, and 30th floors for the first time with each weapon will give the player keys which can be used to unlock deeper Splatoon lore, bonuses in the main game, and new weapons to take through the Side Order tower. In order to get the full ending you’ll need to win with all 12 weapons, the last of which does change the rules up a bit.

After each run, successful or not, the player is awarded with Prlz. This currency is used to unlock Hacks, which are permanent upgrades, before each run that will make each subsequent climb easier. Some of these are really good and worth investing into. Prlz can also be used on some rewards that transfer to the multiplayer mode as well.

Side Order manages to be fun for a while and after I got the hang of it a good mode to just veg out on. Once you establish a play style you like you can tend to focus on those specific Color Chips to make your climb to the top easier, especially if you start stacking those upgrades. Overall I had a fun time, but there are some issues.

My biggest complaint with Side Order is everything seems somewhat limited. After maybe half of my full weapon completion I really felt as if I had seen nearly every type of floor there is. Not just in design, but in terms of what challenge is present there too. While having a different weapon can change the strategy a bit you too may get tired of every floor combination offered.

The boss fights are also limited. The final boss on the 30th Floor is always the same, but the boss on the 10th and 20th floor is random from a set of only three. So, yes, even these will get repetitive as well. This overall lack of variety makes Side Order seem to go a bit stale before it should, which is a shame.

I also have a bone to pick with what’s needed for true 100% completion. Even after getting the full ending by winning with all 12 weapons the player will more than likely be left with a lot more to grind out. This includes earning enough Prlz to unlock all the permanent upgrades and all the multiplayer mode bonuses. However getting all the Color Chip data is by far the worst grind of all.

You see, in order to get all the data on a specific type of Color Chip you’ll need to max out each one in a single run. The ability to do this is random, but the permanent upgrades do allow this to be a little more easily manipulated. Some Color Chips are also weapon specific. Ultimately this turns the end game into an even more miserable thing especially when you’ve more than likely seen everything long before you get to the end of this goal. I’m of the opinion that tedious tasks like this shouldn’t be slapped into a game, but your opinion may differ.

One final gripe I have is something that’s an issue with all Splatoon games. Whenever the characters talk they only make weird noises, but their text speech is shown in text boxes at the bottom of the screen. During the heat of battle it’s basically impossible to read these and also focus on the core gameplay. Splatoon needs voice acting badly as it would decrease the distraction, offer real advice as to what’s going on, and actually make the entire world feel more alive. There is more fun lore and character backstories to be found in Side Order, I just also worry that I missed some because I didn’t have time to read it.

Ultimately Side Order is a fun gameplay concept while it lasts. I’d suggest Splatoon fans play through the mode with each weapon once then bounce off. It’s a great game to play while listening to a podcast or something, but the lack of variety makes the mode get repetitive by the end especially if you’re trying to unlock everything. Hopefully this mode makes it into the inevitable next Splatoon with much more variety than what’s currently offered here.