Splatoon’s development prioritized gameplay, so the original design for the squid-like Inkling characters was just a tofu-shaped block that shot ink.
As the release of Splatoon 3 approaches, the Splatoon franchise has already become an easily recognizable Nintendo IP. The series’ vibrant colors and unique gameplay help it stand out, and its signature Inklings are identifiable at a glance. These squid characters weren’t a part of the original game’s early development, though, and it took some time for their final concept to come about. Nintendo’s earliest versions of Splatoon instead had what were essentially playable blocks of tofu.
The original Splatoon launched in 2015 exclusively on Wii U, and Splatoon 3 is expected to launch in 2022 on Switch. The main game mode in Splatoon and its sequel is Turf War, in which players battle to cover a majority of the map’s surface area in ink. Ally-painted zones can be quickly traversed by transforming the player Inkling into squid form and swimming through the ink. Given squids’ real-life ink-spraying capabilities, the characters and gameplay appear to mesh perfectly with each other, but the squid kids were only invented after multiple other design attempts.