The long-awaited third installment to one of Nintendo’s biggest family games, Splatoon 3 had a lot to live up to from the moment it launched. Luckily for this title, the creators know exactly what makes the Splatoon series special. They’ve built on the features people love most, ironed over the clunkier elements of the earlier games and the new elements that have been introduced are a lot of fun.

The gameplay is framed by a newsreader cutscene that introduces you to the structure of the new edition while also establishing the tone and humor. It is quick, and easy to skip once you’ve watched it the first time, so you can get to the action fairly quickly.

The character customisation is equally swift. You choose the basic style and color scheme of your playable character and then jump right in. As you play through more of the game, you can further personalize your character, even going so far as to have a locker to keep your favorite accessories, and images you can display in the online town square.

As you might expect, the premise of Splatoon 3 doesn’t change all that much from the preceding games. Instead, it holds onto the gameplay that made the others so popular, and adds to it. It has all the colorful chaos that comes as standard with the Splatoon brand, showcased in an upgraded setting. This new entry keeps some of the best weapons from the series, while adding its own that you can mess around with in all new ways.

The solo story mode is nicely put together. The narrative is simple enough: a parasitic invasive species is taking over the world. Taking on the role of Agent 3, you have to develop the skills and gather the power-ups necessary to stop it turning everyone into furry monsters. The campaign gives you something genuinely enjoyable to do when you feel like playing alone. It also provides an opportunity to practice with different weapons and get used to how your character interacts with the world, priming you for the Turf Wars.

Where Splatoon 3 really shines is in its co-op offering. The menu is simple to navigate to find the exact kind of play you want. It’s very easy to find friends to play against or team up with against teams of strangers. The game manages to team you up with players of a similar skill level really well. The creators have evidently put a lot of time and effort into preparing Splatoon 3 for large-scale competitive tournaments. The multiplayer mode has been constructed in a way that lends itself well to different play styles among a variety of groups, regardless of age or skill.

Titles like this have to balance a fine line to be engaging to players of all ages and possibly vastly different skill levels. Splatoon 3 is one of those games that showcases just how well that can be achieved.