• remind me tomorrow
  • remind me next week
  • never remind me
Subscribe to the ANN Newsletter • Wake up every Sunday to a curated list of ANN's most interesting posts of the week. read more

Witness the Evolution of Splatoon's Art at Shibuya Tower Records Exhibit

posted on by Kim Morrissy

Shibuya Tower Records is currently holding an exhibit for Splatoon, the beloved squid-based shooter game series. The exhibit takes you through the entire production history of the games, with staff commentary accompanying the designs every step of the way.

The staff first revealed in 2015 that the early Splatoon prototype initially portrayed its characters as tofu blocks, a decision which the exhibit goes into more detail about. One of the core concepts of the game, the ability to shoot ink on the ground, was embodied by the tofu.

From there, the idea of “claiming territory” was developed. The designs shifted to rabbits, with the logic that rabbits are highly territorial creatures. It was at this stage that a lot of the first concept art was drawn, which got shown off at the exhibit.

There are various shopkeepers in the world of Splatoon. Even before the staff had decided to make the playable characters Inklings, they had decided that they wanted the game to have an urban setting filled with youth culture. There would be cool shopkeepers, hopeless shopkeepers, and everything in-between. The idea that the game would be populated by all sorts of weird creatures was set in stone from the rabbit stage. The cat referee and the tanuki and fox statues in the first Splatoon game were practically unchanged from the early designs.

The Splatfests were another early concept. Even before the name “Splatfest” had been worked out, there was still the idea of separating factions with arbitrary debates like “soba” vs “udon” and “money” vs “love.”

As for the rabbit designs themselves, you can still see visual style of the Inklings in them even before the species change. In particular, you can see they still have the same thin limbs, large eyes and shoes, and how they strike similar poses while handling a gun.

This is an image from the time when the Inkling designs were just about finalized. The staff note that they initially had trouble translating the “cute” appeal of the rabbits into Inklings, but looking back, they note that the spirit of the design got across quite well.

The staff spent days and nights immersed in researching squids for the game. They wanted to convey squid characteristics without putting players off the designs. After the shift to Inklings, the idea of customizing your squid character became a priority. The staff studied ways to broaden the balance and variety of the characters.

The Squid Sisters were designed to be slightly older characters that are objects of admiration, kind of like idols. Meanwhile, the squid forms were designed to look sleek and shiny, but undeniably like squids.

The exhibit also showed off the blueprints of the song lyrics that would give birth to the squid language.

The winning piece of the Splatoon Art Contest, which was held via their English-language Tumblr and sponsored by Nintendo of America, also had a place at the exhibit.

In order to work out how they wanted the last battle in Splatoon to play out, the staff drew a manga version of it first, a page of which is shown below. The actual game differs slightly from the manga, but it more or less plays out the same way.

Splatoon 2 was conceived with the idea that a town can change rapidly in two years. Accordingly, there are new weapons, fashion styles, trendy spots, and places to see. In particular, the staff tried to imagine how the street fashion would develop in two years.

The concept art for Splatoon 2, which was drawn immediately after development of the game began, was featured at the exhibit.

There was also concept art from the recent Octo Expansion DLC for Splatoon 2, featuring the new Octoling characters.

The denizens of the deep sea have some weird and wacky designs. The idea was to preserve as much of their anatomical characteristics as possible while bringing them into an urban setting. The artist of the “Ping-Pong Tree Sponge Lady” noted that when their design was approved, it occurred to them that this was the kind of game where anything goes.

Likewise, the design of C. Q. Cumber, who wears a train conductor's hat and helps you out in trouble, was designed not to have a face, as this would better suit the atmosphere of the deep sea metro.

The pop idol duo Off the Hook appears in the Octo Expansion, but with a different look. The idea was to make them go incognito in music bars, where they would go wild. They might look rough on the outside, but they would support the player earnestly. However, in the end, they just ended up looking like people who came for the music.

According to the staff, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the weapons in the game were designed with the same level of care as each individual character. Each one has its own unique characteristics, and you get more attached to them as you keep using them. The staff went into details about how they designed some of the individual weapons that appear in Splatoon 2.

A glass case contained several things of note: a scale model of the first Splatoon Koshien Truck, which drives all over Japan for the yearly Splatoon competition event. There was also a replica of the package given to the winning team of the second Splatoon Koshien, and the Nintendo Switch Pro controller given to the winning team of the third Koshien.

Finally, there was a page of the sheet music for "Splattack!", the iconic main theme song from the first game. According to the staff, this song was where the world of squid music began.

Two other glass cases contained design materials that didn't make it to the main exhibit.

One other glass case contained the newest Splatoon amiibos, including some that are still in development, although the press was not permitted to take photos of these.

Finally, the exhibit room itself was decorated with cutouts of the characters in front of environments from the games.

The Splatoon exhibit at the Shibuya Tower Records runs between July 13 to August 8. An adult ticket costs 500 yen. A range of Splatoon-related merchandise is also available for purchase at the exhibit space. For more details, check out the Shibuya Tower Records website.

bookmark/share with: short url

Interest homepage / archives