Splatoon was one of Nintendo’s big surprises at last year’s E3, and was met with warm reception from gamers. While we don’t know much about how the game came to be, key developers recently spoke all about its origins in an interview with Famitsu.
Splatoon has been in development for a little while, but not much is known about the developers behind the upcoming Wii U title. Here are some of the key developers, and what other games they’ve worked on thus far.
From left to right: Hisashi Nogami, Yusuke Amano, and Tsubasa Sakaguchi.
Splatoon producer Hisashi Nogami previously worked as the designer for Yoshi’s Island. He’s also been the series director for Animal Crossing since the first game of the series up until Animal Crossing: City Folk.
Meanwhile, director Yusuke Amano has helped Nintendo in the development of various titles, such as Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Star Fox 64 3D.
Last but not least, co-director Tsubasa Sakaguchi has worked as a character designer on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and more recently as the art director for Nintendo Land.
Famitsu begins by saying that they felt that a third-person shooter coming from Nintendo seemed like a rare event, and ask how development began.
“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,” producer Nogami explains. “There were many plans, but the one that stayed until the end was Splatoon.”
To be more specific, Nogami says that it was just around the time Sakaguchi finished working on Nintendo Land, and Amano with New Super Mario Bros. 2, that plans for Splatoon began.
However, Splatoon wasn’t always about squid characters. According to Nogami, they originally had tofu-like square characters. Eventually, they reached the idea of making it a competitive 4-on-4 game that required spraying the environment with ink.
“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.”
Amano says that in the end, it’s not about defeating a bunch of enemies—rather, the goal is covering as much space possible, and they felt that a 4-on-4 setup was the most balanced for this reason.
Next, Famitsu mention that when Splatoon was announcement back in E3, many fans were excited by it and began creating all sorts of fan art. They ask how it came to be that the main characters are squids in Splatoon.
“We’re very grateful that it was well received right after its announcement,” says Nogami. “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 [in the game], so without height, so you couldn’t paint the walls with ink and climb up, but we’ve added more and more to the feature over time,” Sakaguchi explains, adding that they originally intended to keep adding other elements as well as possible, but had to readjust all the features at one point because things got too confusing.
“At first, we had all kinds of actions that went according to when a character was in human-form,” says Amano. “However, the result of adding more functions made it too messy. When we made the adjustments, 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. We decided to make it into something that makes you switch around [between both forms] while playing.”
According to Sakaguchi, they had several options besides squids, but in the end, they felt that ink shooting would best be represented by a squid, so the squids ended up being the most popular choice.
Splatoon is slated for release this May for Wii U.