Nintendo, a company that has been putting smiles on the faces of everyone since the 1980s, has consistently remained as the main contributor to the game industry by creating gaming’s most beloved intellectual properties. Regardless of your age you must have heard or even played incarnations of many Nintendo’s franchises, such as Super Mario Brothers, Legend of Zelda, Pokemon or Kirby. Nintendo, truly is the embodiment of the phrase “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. For years, the company has been rehashing the same old formula over and over again, until a brief E3 announcement in 2014. Nintendo shook the gaming world with a brand new IP in a form of a Wii U title called Splatoon. In a nutshell Splatoon is a game about strange anthropomorphic squid race called Inklings fighting against each other in a four-on-four paintball-esque game, where the primary objective is to colour the arena with the respective team’s colour. The game was a huge success giving birth to a massive fandom worldwide, however did you know that Splatoon is probably Nintendo’s most “Japanese” game yet? Here are the reasons why.
Inkopolis serves as the central hub for the game. This is where Inklings hang out, shop and enter the battle arena. The people at Nintendo may call it Inkopolis, but people who have been living or even traveled to Japan know very well that this ‘squid town’ is no fiction. Yes, Inkopolis is none other than a glorified version of Tokyo itself. A majority of the aesthetics are taken from the famous Shibuya crossing area, whilst the Inkopolis Tower is Tokyo Tower painted in yellowish-green.
One of the most prominent aspects of Splatoon is the responsibility to stay fresh at any cost. Fashion plays an important role to any resident of Inkopolis. From the gameplay standpoint, clothes, shoes and hats do grant buffs for your Inklings, but who cares about that, when excellent taste at selecting gears could give your Inklings the self-esteem they need to stay on top of their game? From a schoolgirl outfit to a baseball jacket, you name it, the fashion stores at Inkopolis have it all.
Japan is famous for their love towards the “Idol” subculture. People would spend a lot of money to purchase their favourite Idol merchandises and concert tickets. Similarly, the Inklings too have an Idol group called “Squid Sisters” that took Inkopolis by storm. The Squid Sisters will never fail at greeting players at the start of every Splatoon game, giving them information about the newest updates. Their catchy tunes will also accompany Inklings during intense battle.
Rainmaker is a weapon in the world of Splatoon. People who have visited Nagoya castle may found this so called Rainmaker somewhat familiar. The Rainmaker weapon is heavily inspired by an animal in Japanese folklore, namely the Shachihoko (the Japanese name of this weapon is Gachihoko). It is believed that Shachihoko has the ability to cause rain to fall. Coincidence? Maybe not.
Yes, Nintendo has created a lot of interesting and iconic characters like Mario and Link, however none of these gaming mascots reflect the origin of the company, namely Japan. Splatoon is not just a mere third-person shooter. The game is a celebration of Japanese culture in general, transforming Tokyo into a lovable and unique realm of Inkopolis. It is truly a love letter to Japan hidden under an addictive and competitive simplistic game that is Splatoon.