Splatoon 3’s reveal yesterday took many folks by surprise, both because there was little indication beforehand that the aquatic shooter would get a third installment and because of the presence of an upside-down Eiffel Tower in the trailer. No, your eyes weren’t deceiving you: Splatoon is set on Earth, thousands of years after the world we know has been destroyed by a climate apocalypse.
Hints of the Splatoon world’s grim past stretch back to the series’ arrival in 2015, but this lore was mostly confined to Sunken Scrolls, secreted away in single-player, which, for most folks, took a back seat to sweet, sweet multiplayer competition. While these collectibles mostly covered silly topics like Inkling biology and what happens to the multi-colored goop that covers the battlefield after every match, they also detailed humanity’s terrifying swan song 12,000 years prior to the games.
The first inkling (pun definitely intended) that Splatoon was about more than just squid kid turf wars came in the first entry’s tenth stage, courtesy of a Sunken Scroll explaining how the game’s Inkling species evolved over the years.
“Creatures of the surface” sounds an awful lot like humans, no? Add to that an image suggesting that the squids we know and love in the real world served as the progenitors for the Inkling race, and it immediately starts to feel like Splatoon takes place on Earth.
A dozen stages later, another Sunken Scroll appears to be a menu from some long-lost age before Inklings roamed dry land, depicting a fried shrimp that looks conspicuously like the dude who sells you sweet kicks in Splatoon’s main hub.
The last few Sunken Scrolls are where things get super obvious. They’re even attributed to humans, who speak of an oncoming disaster that sounds all too familiar to what we’re facing in the real world.
That’s literally a human skeleton, entombed while playing Wii U. Real subtle, Nintendo.
And finally, some insight into how Judd, the cat who judges all the Splatoon matches, came to live in a world ruled by cephalopods.
Unfortunately, the Sunken Scrolls in Splatoon 2 don’t keep up with this lore-dropping, with the exception of a single entry from Judd’s former human owner, but both games are filled with a variety of subtle hints outside the ones I’ve documented here.
With the impending release of the Splatoon 3 announcement and its oddly situated Eiffel Tower, the franchise’s post-apocalyptic leanings are now starting to be put front and center. That said, it’s strange to see the Inklings in a dusty, Mad Max-style environment after previous games mentioned water levels were still rising and putting the dominant species in harm’s way.
I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to learn what that’s all about, but I hope Nintendo continues to push these themes. Not only does it add some great flavor, but it might also be just what folks in the real world need to recognize the dangerous path we’re all on.