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Meet The Minds Behind Splatoon
Splatoon, announced last year by Nintendo at E3, may feel like a game that came out of nowhere. The team based online 3rd person shooter gameplay doesn’t seem like the kind of project Nintendo would be behind. Fortunately, thanks to a brilliant art style and some very original gameplay concepts, the game has gained a devoted legion of fans (myself included) eager for its launch in May of 2015.
In order to get Japanese audiences ready for the games release, popular gaming magazine, Famitsu, has begun weekly coverage of the game, beginning with an interview with three of the game’s top designers.
Producer Hisashi Nogami (left) – Designer for Yoshi’s Island, and Director of Animal Crossing from the series beginnings until City Folk
Director Yusuke Amano (middle) – Part of the team responsible for Super Mario Advance 4, Starfox 64 3D, and New Super Mario Bros. 2
Co-Director Tsubasa Sakagutchi (right) – Character designer for Twilight Princess, and art director for Nintendo Land
That’s quite the pedigree! However, the three men went on to assure the interviewer that they’re not the only talent being brought to the production .
“Many staff members that have worked on Wii U launch titles are working on this game, so now that we have a grasp of the Wii U’s functions, it started out with discussions about wanting to make something new with what we already know. There were many plans, but the one that stayed until the end was Splatoon”, Nogami tells.
They also shed some light on the game’s design inspirations, stating that the final decision to make the game a 4 on 4 shooter didn’t come until later on in development.
“At first, during the trial stages, we tested the game with different numbers of players,” says Sakaguchi. “With more than four players, the impact of one single player felt too little, while having three players made it feel like the impact was too much.”
BUT. . . WHY SQUIDS?
The game, as we’ve seen by now, is brilliantly designed around the concept of filling the play area with ink, rather than a basic death match system. Think ‘Reverse Mario Sunshine’. This led to the logical choice of basing the character designs on squids, animals famous for their inky smoke bomb defense mechanism.
“The reason we made them squids… well, to put it simply, ‘it was the optimal way to represent all of the game’s features. At first, they just shot ink, and couldn’t even jump,” adds Amano. “The concept of height didn’t exist, so without height, so you couldn’t paint the walls with ink and climb up. We had all kinds of actions that went according to when a character was in human-form. However, the result of adding more functions made it too messy.”
“When we made the adjustments,” he goes on to mention, “we decided to split what a character could do in human form and what they can do in squid form. Humans can walk and attack, while switching to squid makes them specialize in movement.”
The use of the squids as an alternate form adds a certain level of strategy to the gameplay and movement that I’m eager to see for myself. As for the ink concept, it’s refreshing to see the shooter genre taken in a more whimsical direction, avoiding the ultra violence and seriousness of the genre’s other entries.
Famitsu has offered us a great look into one of Nintendo’s most exciting new titles for 2015. I’m glad to know the game is in such good hands, and will be eagerly awaiting updates as we draw ever closer to launch.