Modern Nintendo games tend to share a common feature: a single, monstrously difficult challenge placed at the very end of the game, as a “reward” for True Gamers. In Splatoon 3, it’s called After Alterna. This is a secret level in the game’s single-player mode that only appears after beating every other level in the game. Don’t think you’re prepared just from beating the others. After Alterna is four times as long and ten times as hard as a regular level. There’s not much of a reward, either: its main prize is a pair of fuzzy ears that prevent you from wearing a nice hat. But if you’re not satisfied with anything but 100% completion, here’s how to beat After Alterna.
How To Beat After Alterna: Be Prepared
First, make sure you have the stage unlocked. You don’t need to beat each stage with each weapon: one per stage is fine. After beating the last of the normal stages, a message appears telling you about a secret stage. It’s near the entrance to Alterna, visible from the Squid Sisters camp in the screenshot above. Try to have your gear as upgraded as possible. It’s not essential to have all the upgrades unlocked (I didn’t), but make sure you have all the core combat boosts. That means ink capacity, fire rate, and suit recovery.
You also need Power Eggs. Every three deaths in After Alterna cost you 333 eggs, and if you run out, you’ll get kicked out early. If you’ve just beaten every other level, you should have enough, but it took me around 8000 (not counting the many eggs I collected in the stage itself!). I’d recommend bringing 10k, maybe 15k to be safe. Lastly, strap in for a lengthy fight. This game journalist took about five hours to beat After Alterna. Your skill level is probably greater than mine, but it’d be a mistake not to allow yourself that much time. Be absolutely sure your control sensitivity is set the way you want. You can’t change it once you’re inside.
Beat After Alterna Part 1: Obstacle Course
The opening is deceptively simple: some jumps across scattered platforms. Any time you need to jump between platforms in After Alterna, ink the edge in front of you and jump in squid form, which moves fastest and gets you the most distance. Pretty soon, you’ll come to some rotating cylinders straight from a Mario Sunshine bonus level. They’re intimidating but manageable, since your ink lets you easily stick to surfaces. Just make sure you’re jumping in squid form.
Past that is the first real obstacle: a long rotating cylinder with a pair of Octotroopers carrying Gatling guns at the end. The safest way past them is to bait them into firing, then swim forward and kill them during their cooldown. They tend to see you as soon as you step onto the cylinder. Watch for their Metal Gear-esque “!”, and make sure both of them see you; at the same time if possible. Then, stay back behind the walls that protrude from the cylinder, and spread some ink forward to quickly rush forward as soon as they stop firing.
Next is a brief skirmish with weak Octotroopers. There will be several of these throughout the stage, and general Splatoon tips apply to all of them. Play defensively when you need to. That means painting the ground to make safe zones for yourself, and staying back when you need to recover. A quick method here is to kill the rightmost trooper while landing, then stay right and use cover to splat the other two.
Then comes the Squid Surge wall. To make sure you’re Surging properly, hold the A button with the control stick in neutral to charge it. While charged, you can move around a little to aim your surge. The timing here is simply to rush forward as soon as the sweepers pass. On the rotating sweeper, be aware that Squid Surge propels you quickly upward, so you can charge and release as soon as you can see the route above you. Next are a few simple fights; hide behind crates and other objects to avoid sniper fire.
The next sections are centered on the Squid Roll, performed by pressing A while holding the control stick away from the wall you’re currently climbing. The camera angles here are awkward, but the controls are pretty lenient. Simply holding the control stick while jumping will usually keep you moving in the right direction. You can also Squid Roll by releasing A after charging a surge. It’s slower, but works if you can’t get the Squid Roll timing right.
This leads into the moving pillar section, requiring you to ink the side of a pillar, then ride it while it moves. It’s a little uncomfortable, since you can’t hold still. To keep from sliding off, you have to keep tapping up on the control stick like you’re playing Flappy Bird. It’s possible to hold A and charge a Squid Surge, which stops you from sliding as much, but will also send you flying if you release the button. Little taps are safer.
Drop down when the moving pillar stops. Kill the Octarian on your left first, to keep it from using its shield. The next moving pillar is the second major roadblock of Part 1. When it stops, you’re forced to do a blind, backwards jump onto a tiny platform. It’s spaced just right for a Squid Roll, though, if you execute it perfectly. Press A and hold the control stick back at the same time to jump off. Keep holding the stick until you hit a fried squid ring, then let go of the stick. That should consistently land you safely. Don’t celebrate until after killing the Octobombs that spawn on the platform.
Next is an ink rail section. Simple as long as you keep holding ZL, since the rails are a little magnetic. Jump in between shots to avoid getting shoved off by Octotrooper shots. When the sniper confronts you, just keep moving. Two more rotating cylinders are next. These spin fast and look real scary, but they work exactly the same as the others: ink the edge, squid jump to the next.
The final obstacle of Part 1 is a Frogger-like procession of big blocks flowing backwards. To progress though them, you need to ink the ground at the edge of the one you’re jumping from and the side of the one you’re jumping to, several times in a row, and quickly. The trick here is that the platforms loop, and any inked surface stays inked. Each loop through the platforms gets a little easier if you keep inking. In fact, if you want to be extra safe here, it’s possible to cover most of them with ink before jumping down.
That’s not enough on its own, though; the exit is too far to reach at first. Stick to jumps you’ve already set up, and gradually add more ink farther right as you jump. Stop inking and speed up if the platforms start falling while you’re on them; this means you’re behind. Shoot ink when you can, and you’ll eventually have a path up the right-side wall, to the first checkpoint.
After Alterna Part 2: Break The Targets
Part 2 is simple, but equally deadly. It requires you to shoot down every balloon that appears as you slide along the rails. If you miss one, you die. This is why it was so important to make sure your control sensitivity is correct before attempting After Alterna. Most of this section is aim-based: there’s no trick, you just have to shoot well.
Your biggest advantage is that the balloons always appear in the same places. If you work out how to aim, all you need to do is commit the motion to muscle memory. It’s often possible to stall by jumping in place, giving you a little more time to aim or even fire backwards at a missed balloon, but that’s not very helpful. It disrupts the regular pattern of aiming and shooting, sabotaging your muscle memory. The best way forward is to do things right without attempting a correction.
I suffered a lot on this section, but I had some success using motion controls to aim up and down, while using the right stick to turn while firing. When the balloons start spawning in a line, I’d press gently on the right stick with the trigger held down to pop the whole line. The second line also takes some aiming up and down to hit loose balloons, but the first and third are straight. The balloon lines also mark the point at which ink starts to run out. Enter squid form as soon as you pop the last balloon in a set to refill as much as possible.
The hardest section here is the three rails just after the balloon lines. You can only hit the farthest balloons from the outermost rails. Jump to the left rail right away. As soon as you pop the far left balloon, aim to the right while jumping onto the rightmost rail. Don’t forget to refill once the rail section is over: the following vertical balloon line takes a lot of ink to cover. Lastly, don’t relax until you’re on solid ground. The final few sections require quick, precise aiming, and the last one makes you shoot down a whole group in freefall.
Beat After Alterna Part 3: Platforms In Motion
This is the easiest part of After Alterna, more puzzle-based than reflex-based. As long as you still have eggs in reserve, you can relax a little. Much of this part revolves around soaker blocks, which extend when shot. Smallfry is the star here. Throwing him onto a soaker block extends it fully for a long time, allowing you to cross at your leisure. Smallfry is also effective at eliminating enemies from cover that would otherwise shoot the blocks out from under you.
When you reach the clear wall at the end of a soaker path, throw Smallfry over to extend the soaker past it, and drop down as it extends. The Octocommander here is the same as before: bait his fire (this time with Smallfry) and swim up and kill him while he’s tired. Go back and throw Smallfry onto the soaker block after the kill, and you can ignore the soaker’s time limit completely. The final rush looks deadly, but is doable by just pressing forward. Make sure to kill the big bomb at the end, though.
The game graciously gives you an early checkpoint here. Use Smallfry as before to extend soaker blocks without worrying about their time limit. You can Squid Roll backwards off the first one like you did in Part 1, but you don’t need to: swimming to the top and jumping off normally is safer.
For the missile ride section, the key is to break each enemy sprinkler, then shoot the pink soaker blocks to retract them – but not enough to fill them with your own ink, which will extend them again and kill you. The third wall requires you to extend the soaker a little ways before it to cancel enemy missiles, which is easily done with Smallfry.
The final section appears dangerous but is actually forgiving. Ride a missile to the balloon, throw Smallfry at it, then jump off onto the path that extends. It’s possible to jump shortly after throwing Smallfry, if you have trouble with the long jump. The timing is tighter but the jump is easier.
After Alterna Finale: Cephalopod Battle Torture
This is basically the final boss of Splatoon 3, not including enemy teams of professional players in Turf War. It’s three waves of Octolings, each deadlier than the last. An Octoling is like an extra-stupid player: easily destroyed one-on-one, but deadly if grouped up.
A lot of general Turf War advice applies here. The more ground inked, the safer you’ll be. Staying up high protects you from Rollers and Sloshers. Listen for the telltale “pop” of enemy Blaster fire – your upgraded Hero Shot will usually beat any other weapon, but a Blaster can hit hard at range. Try to ambush them from behind a wall, using the radar ability to track them.
Much of the strategy here revolves around killing the Octolings just as they spawn. They appear on the octagonal platforms at the edges of the arena, and you’ll see a “squid jump” marker just before they arrive. For an easy first wave, start by going right and killing the Brush user approaching from the front. This causes an Octoling to spawn at the back right point – turn around and kill them right away. That causes an Octoling to spawn at the mid-right point – turn around again and kill this one too. This way, you can start the wave with three fewer enemies. You have to do it quick, though, since the third spawn uses Dualies. Those can shave through your armor in an instant if you miss the quick kill.
For an easy second wave, swim forward as soon as the front wall starts dropping, and grab the canned Trizooka when it appears. Immediately rush to the front-left spawn point nearby and kill the Octoling as it spawns. A second Octoling will spawn in the same spot. This one has a Brella shield and might take a few extra hits, but Octolings tend not to use shields correctly. Keep firing into it and most of the time, they’ll drop it and die.
Once those two are dead, swim over to the front-right spawn point. Stay there, and use the Trizooka to kill any Octoling at a distance. If you miss, just kill the first one to approach you instead. That triggers a spawn on the front-right point, which you can quick kill. That’s four enemies down with little effort, leaving only three. They’re easy to mop up, but be aware they all have tracking bombs. If a bomb notices you, don’t argue, just run.
For an easy third wave… no, sorry. There’s no easy third wave. But there is a little trick that might help. Starting in wave 2, canned specials appear in the arena, the first being the Trizooka. After collecting one, another one will spawn on the other side. They always spawn in a fixed order, one after the other, cycling through most of the specials in the game. The last one is Zipcaster, and picking this up spawns an armor collectible you can reach with the zipline. Then the Trizooka spawns again, and the specials loop.
The trick is: During wave 2, kill all but one of the Octolings. This lets you ignore the last one and go back and forth, cycling out specials until you get the ones you want. You can use this to freely get an armor pickup before wave 3 starts, thanks to Zipcaster. You can also stop cycling the specials right before your favorites come up. Your best options are long-ranged killers: Ink Storm, Triple Inkstrike, Tenta Missiles, and Killer Wail 5.1.
The wave itself is a nightmare. All your enemies now have their own specials. The safest technique is to fight one-on-one whenever you can. Most specials only work close up, so getting swarmed is deadly. Keep the ground inked when you can, because you’ll need to run: if you see four little arrows on you, the Tenta Missiles are coming, and the only defense is to move.
Enemy Wave Breakers, which spawn shockwaves, can be attacked and destroyed, but they always launch at least one shockwave. Be ready to jump. Throw out Smallfry to distract the enemy. Overall, defensive play is the way to go, especially if the enemies are thinning out. Stay safe and keep your escape routes clear. Along with the free armor trick and a bit of luck, you can finally beat After Alterna and claim your fuzzy prize. Now I need to go lie down.