Non-Violent Wii U Shooter Splatoon's Characters Weren't Always Squids

Latest Iwata Asks dives deep into Nintendo's unique Wii U shooter.


Ahead of the release of Splatoon later this month, Nintendo has posted a new Iwata Asks feature about the non-violent Wii U shooter. The in-depth Q&A dives deep into the unique game's origins and more. .Among the highlights is the fact developers experimented with other characters before landing on squids.

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Nintendo's Hisashi Nogami reveals that an early demo for what would become Splatoon depicted a "white cube in a maze," a character that Nintendo president Satoru Iwata referred to as tofu.

"There was a white thing and a black thing shaped like blocks of tofu, and they were shooting ink and they had to steal each other's turf," Nogami.

The developers joked that the original basis for Splatoon was "a fight between a block of sesame tofu and a block of firm tofu."

A later prototype for Splatoon added a rabbit as the main playable character. Why a rabbit?

"Well, a lot of it was because of design factors," Nintendo's Seita Inoue explained. "Rabbits are white to begin with, so it would be easy to tell if they were inked. They've got long ears that would move when they did, so you could see them moving and when viewed from above, it would be easy to tell which direction they were facing by the direction of the ears."

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On top of this, Nogami said if gamers were asked if they would rather play as a block of tofu or a rabbit, everyone would choose the rabbit.

"Tofu is a bit hard of a hard sell, so we decided to turn the characters into something humanoid," another Nintendo developer, Shintaro Sato, explained.

But rabbits led to another problem.

"When people asked 'Why rabbits?' and 'Why are the rabbits shooting ink?' we couldn't give them a rational explanation," Yusuke Amano said.

The team later got together for a brainstorming session and it was decided that squids would be the main character, in part because the developers wanted a character that could switch between "ink creature form" and "humanoid form." A squid was the perfect solution.

Also in the Iwata Asks feature, it's revealed that Nintendo thought about seventy different ideas before landing on what would become Splatoon. What's more, the team reveals that the version of Splatoon shown off to press at E3 last year was only 10 percent finished.

"At E3, we only had one weapon. We only had one stage, and only a mock-up of the sequence," Nintendo's Tsubasa Sakaguchi said. "So when we returned from E3, our big issue was figuring out how to turn all that into a product."

Splatoon launches May 29 exclusively for Wii U. You can try the game ahead of launch through a one-hour demo scheduled to be held this weekend. For a closer look at Splatoon, check out some images in the gallery below.

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