How Splatoon evolved from ink shooting Tofu

3 min read


Splatoon is just eight days away. Eight days for the seven of you who actually own a Wii U! I’m incredibly excited to get my ink on next week Friday – with an adorable inkling at my side. Thing is though, Splatoon was almost never about squid at all. In fact, early versions of the game had you shooting ink around as a delightful little blob of food.

Final products are almost never what they look like in early testing, and Splatoon is no exception to this rule. In a new instalment of Iwata Asks, the panel of Spaltoon creators meticulously detail the journey of the delightful little shooter – from surviving a prototype deathmatch between 70 other ideas to incorporating the inklings that act as the poster children for the new IP.

When development began though, the players actually looked like pieces of Tofu – with the ability to hide in, well, similarly coloured ink that the Tofu pieces shot out their noses.

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.


The team knew that it wasn’t final, and eventually started experimenting with Rabbit children that could transform. But as much as inklings that transform into squid doesn’t make much sense, rabbits that could do the same made even less – and the team nearly went back to the idea of Tofu afterwards.

But we started to think that maybe the rabbits weren’t the problem. Although we ended up going with squids instead of rabbits, the important thing we got from it wasn’t the idea that the rabbits were no good. We realized we still hadn’t found the key part of the game structure.

When people asked “Why rabbits?” and “Why are the rabbits shooting ink?” we couldn’t give them a rational explanation.


It took a while to eventually get to Squids though, but after that development soared. It is interesting though that what we saw at E3 last year – the debut of Splatoon – was actually only around 10% of the game. Back then, there was one map, one weapon, and one mode – a far cry from what the game releasing next week is coming back with.

It’s just another example of how far a game can come from initial reveal, and just how many changes it goes through before being packaged up into the box we pay good money for. You can check out the extensive Q&A here, which gives some rather incredible insight into the process of taking a paper prototype to full production. Enlighten yourselves.

Last Updated: May 21, 2015

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