- This article is about the prominent species of squid in Splatoon. For the language by the same name, see Inkling (language).
Inklings are evolved species of squid that came to be after rising sea levels destroyed humanity, with the first of the Inklings being recorded to have lived around 5,000 years after the destruction of the human settlement of Alterna. Alterna inhabitants unintentionally accelerated the evolution of squids and other species of marine life, after psycho-reactive liquid crystals infused with lingering human thoughts and feelings leaked into the ocean surrounding the settlement.
At least 2,000 years before the events of Splatoon, Turf Wars were established. The original Turf Wars were overseen by Judd, a cat that was cryogenically frozen by his human owner before the Earth was flooded. 100 years before the events of Splatoon, the Inklings and the Octarians engaged in a Great Turf War after otherwise having good relations, when rising sea levels caused disputes over the remaining territory. The young Cap'n Cuttlefish and his Inkling comrades were victorious, forcing the Octarians to retreat to desolate areas such as Octo Valley, Octo Canyon, and take up residence underground.
Young Inklings begin life resembling squid paralarvae, but grow into an increasingly human-like form as they age. By at least the age of 14, Inklings gain complete control over both these forms and can change between kid and squid at will. Between each game in the franchise, Inklings undergo design changes, generally becoming taller, and having more rounded and less squat faces. Additionally, in Splatoon and Splatoon 3, Inklings' tentacles have a darker color towards their tips.
The kid form is similar to that of a young human child, but with notable differences. Instead of hair, an Inkling has tentacle appendages that cover their head. These tentacles are colored on the outside, and white on the inside. The outer layer changes to match an Inkling's ink color, and usually features a spotted gradient to a secondary color at the ends of their longest tentacles. An Inkling's eyes are are surrounded by a black 'eye mask', and they have pointed ears that are homologous to a squid's fins. Their mouths contain two ridges similar in shape to human teeth, with three larger sharp points--two on the top and one on the bottom--that resemble a squid's beak. The inside of an Inkling's mouth matches their ink color.
The squid form resembles a small, cartoon-ish, monochromatic squid. They have several small arms in the middle of their bodies, with two large tentacles on either side. The squid have short mantle with relatively large fins, and two upward-facing, human-like eyes over the characteristic eye mask. The undersides of their tentacles are always white, regardless of ink color, and have a single large sucker near the end of each.
There are slight differences between male and female Inklings. In general, male Inklings style their tentacles shorter, have thicker eyebrows, and deeper voices. Female Inklings wear more of but are not limited to longer tentacle styles. Female Inklings are also slightly curvier. In Splatoon and Splatoon 2, the player must pick between male and female and can only use the tentacle styles available for each gender. In Splatoon 3, hairstyles and clothing items that were previously gender-locked can be worn by any Inkling.
Some Inklings (namely Callie, Marie, Pearl, and Frye) have special features unique to these characters. All four idols have plus-shaped pupils that are either brown or white, as opposed to the standard Inkling's black circular pupil. Callie, Marie, and Pearl have tentacles in colors not used by the regular Inkling, being black and white respectively. All idols have different ears: Callie and Marie (along with some Inklings shown in Splatoon official art) have curvy pointed ears. Pearl's ears are unusually small, and Frye's ears are unusually long and pointed. Frye in particular has the most unique appearance of any Inkling model found in game, with her exaggerated features and large eye mask.
Outside of Splatoon game models, Inklings can additionally have unnatural skin colors (as seen with KAGI on an album cover for Wet Floor) and multiple different tentacles colors at once (as seen with Yōko on an album cover for Ink Theory).
Both the Inklings' squid and kid form have particular abilities associated with them. In kid form, Inklings can splatter a special type of colored ink by using various weapons, including guns, rollers, buckets, paintbrushes, etc. This ink can be quickly spread over most surfaces, except for inflatable barriers, black pavement, and glass surfaces. This ink inhibits the movement of Inklings that do not have a matching color. When used as a projectile, ink can damage opposing Inklings, eventually 'splatting' them and forcing them to respawn.
In squid form, Inklings on dry land are only able to slither slowly. This changes when an Inkling submerges into ink of its own color, allowing it to swim at high speeds and jump over large distances. Inklings also use their squid forms to perform maneuvers such as the squid surge and squid roll, scale painted walls, and slip through wire fences and grates into areas that would be unreachable in kid form. As revealed in Splatoon: Squid Kids Comedy Show, Inklings are indeed more flexible in squid form. However, squids cannot travel past striped barriers or over ledges, preventing them from swimming into inaccessible areas.
While submerged in ink, Inklings only create small ripples while swimming and become undetectable when still. In ink of their color, they quickly replenish their ink ammunition. In ink of a different color, Inklings become unable to remain in squid form and quickly revert back to humanoid form. Inkling ink disappears rather quickly after a battle due to being consumed by microorganisms that have evolved to feed on the ink.
Inklings are unable to swim in water. When submerged, their body dissolves, leaving their clothes behind. The official American Splatoon Tumblr has mused that this may be because their bodies are made of liquid. Another fact to support this is that squid form Inklings can go through grates, which is also cited by the Tumblr account to be related to them possibly being made of liquid. Interviews with producer of Splatoon and Splatoon 2 Hisashi Nogami revealed that Inklings have a very thin and permeable outer membrane, which causes their ink to bleed out when in contact with water. They evolved this way to be able to transform freely between their kid and squid form, but lost the ability to be in water as a consequence. A piece of trivia from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also states that the Inklings' ink from their bodies will diffuse when submerged in water and which causes them to dissolve.
Inklings are capable of producing a sort of bio-luminescence, an ability shared with certain real-life squid such as the firefly squid. In the dark, either during a Splatfest or certain Octo Valley missions, the player's Inkling will glow brightly in humanoid form, lighting up the area immediately around them and helping to differentiate the player from other Inklings. This glow disappears entirely upon assuming squid form. All Inklings (as well as jellyfish) in Inkopolis Plaza will give off a very faint glow during a Splatfest, visible only by looking at the ground around them. This bio-luminescence can also be spotted when viewing Inkling tentacles at low angle, with many tiny rainbow dots that glimmer faintly in the sunlight and brightly in pitch darkness.
Inklings take on a unique appearance when they have a special weapon ready; they give off sparks, the tentacles on their head become very brightly colored and glow, bubbles form at the top of their head as if from boiling water, and they appear to be caught in a strong wind even when completely still. Their appearance returns to normal once their special weapon has been used.
In the Splatoon manga, Vintage and his teammate Omega have the ability to sense opponents moving behind them. Bobble Hat, also from the manga, has similar abilities. It is unknown if any other Inklings have these abilities.
- Main article: Splat (occurrence)
While in battle, Inklings can use their weapons to 'splat' each other with ink. Standing in enemy ink will damage and slow an Inkling's movement, but only enemy fire can splat an Inkling. When splatted by an enemy, Inklings explode into enemy ink, with their gear and weapons dropping before dissolving shortly thereafter, and a ghost-like squid figure will rise into the air over where they were splatted. This ghost-like squid figure then travels to the spawn point where the Inkling respawns. Inklings can also be splatted from diving into water and dissolving, or falling off a ledge and exploding into a cloud colored of their ink. Inklings can respawn at checkpoints after being splatted in Octo Valley and Octo Canyon, though only working for a limited number of respawns. The online battle modes allows for an infinite amount of respawns at the spawn points. The special gauge decreases when splatted, even if full, unless the player is wearing 3 mains and 9 subs of Special Saver and the opponent is not wearing Respawn Punisher.
However, in the Octo Expansion campaign, developers revealed that during the escape phases, Agent 8, an Octoling, does die if they get splatted as they are not connected to a spawn point, only checkpoints without respawning capabilities. This suggests that Inklings and Octolings do indeed die when splatted and need a means for them to respawn, possibly true due to the visual effects (i.e the 'ghost') when splatted.
Inkling culture is heavily influenced by the ancient human cultures that came before them; as a result, Inkling architecture, fashion, art, and even language shows influence from eastern and western human societies alike. It was implied that Inklings adapted much of their own culture and mannerisms from the fossils of human civilizations they have unearthed, and the blending of ancient human aesthetics and Inkling ingenuity is truly unique. The best collections of the Inkling lifestyle can be seen in major cities such as Inkopolis, and Splatsville; cultural hot spots that draw in many young rural Inklings that seek a trendy and fresh lifestyle.
"Freshness" is the most important aspect of Inkling culture. This is based on how recent and cool an Inkling's attire and general style is, as well as how proficient with weapons and skilled in battle an Inkling is. Freshness is so important that most business owners will refuse customers that are too inexperienced.
The cultural high-point to many Inklings are competitive battles, which serve as a means of entertainment, relaxation, and celebration of the Inkling victory during the Great Turf War. It is by far the most popular activity for young Inklings and include a variety of modes leading with Turf War, and including Splat Zones, Rainmaker, Clam Blitz, and Tower Control.
Inklings hold onto strong values of 'turf', and any infrastructure is likely to be decorated with graffiti and tags, as if to declare ownership. The art book from the first Splatoon clarifies that the idea stemmed from the Turf War concept of spraying and drawing ink to claim territory, implying that some Inkling graffiti is drawn in ink.
Appearances play a major part in Inkling culture, and to many, being able to express themselves fully is a must. Inklings have invented many interesting ways the style their tentacles, and have a huge variety of clothing brands and fashions. Besides the Battle Lobby, the second most frequented spots in Inkling cities are the many shops that gear can be purchased from. Inklings can be seen gathered both inside and outside of local shops, socializing and showing off new gear.
Inkling music can easily be described as a cultural cornerstone, and is extremely varied in style and genre, from the rock band Squid Squad to the world famous pop idols, the Squid Sisters. Music can be heard during every battle as a way to hype up competitors, as well as in every shop and throughout Inkopolis and Splatsville.
Every so often, a Splatfest is held; a special festival that brings Inklings together for a large concert and celebration of opposing ideas, and can be seen as a merging of music and turf wars. Teams are formed around two (Splatoon, Splatoon 2) or three (Splatoon 3) opposing topics, where members compete in turf wars in order to decide which is superior. This is a major event where an entire city may be transformed in celebration. Many Inklings can be seen on the streets dancing, enjoying live performances from the Squid Sisters (Splatoon), Off the Hook (Splatoon 2), or Deep Cut (Splatoon 3), and supporting their chosen teams by wearing Splatfest Tees and producing topic-themed graffiti.
Inklings have been described as easy-going, inattentive and living for fun; they did not take further concern when the Great Zapfish went missing and didn't seem too worried when Octolings appeared in Inkopolis. Indeed, it is stated that during the Great Turf War, preliminary battles were easily won by Octarian forces simply because Inklings had failed to wake up early enough. Sunken Scrolls have described the Inkling mind as being simple and hedonistic, though this is most likely Octarian propaganda. Their work ethic seems to mirror their carefree and pleasure-seeking nature, as The Art of Splatoon 2 mentions that many Inklings only take on part-time jobs. They easily forget about old trends and shift their interest on what is new, or fresh.
It was confirmed that Inkopolis resides in Japan, where the Splatoon franchise was created. Inkling society is heavily inspired by Japanese culture, with similar architecture, customs, spoken and written language, and dress. Some notable examples is the traditional Japanese dress worn by the Squid Sisters on multiple occasions, the clear rakugo set-up for the Anarchy Splatcast, and rice as a popular food, as seen in the Rice vs. Bread Splatfest. Gear based on Japanese sushi shop uniforms were also released, hinting at Inklings eating sushi. This was implied again when Inklings were seen to eat 'hot dogfish' and 'fried catfish'. This is further pointed at when Callie says she is not good with seafood. The type of seafood is unknown, however.
Squidmas is an Inkling holiday that is assumed to be celebrated during colder weather. Much is unknown about this holiday aside from its obvious likenesses to the human holiday of Christmas. From this, it is assumed that in the winter, a figure named Father Squidmas goes around the world giving out presents and freshness to all the good Inkling children.
According to Callie of the Squid Sisters, Father Squidmas can be found in the North Pole of the Earth, making gifts all year in preparation for Squidmas time. According to her cousin Marie, Father Squidmas isn't real and all of their interactions with him are simply their grandfather dressed up as him.
Squidmas is an additional element associated with the localization. The Japanese addition originally did not have it, as well as other regions, though official art celebrating the holidays does use the term "Squidmas".
Halloween is another holiday that Inklings celebrate as evidenced by the Trick vs. Treat Splatfest and its rematch. Just like the human holiday of the same name, Inklings and other species dress up in costumes and participate in trick or treating activities. Locations are likewise decorated with scary decor such as ghost, skeletons and glow-in-the-dark graffiti.
The event is also known as "Splatoween", though Marina specifies that Trick vs. Treat is a Halloween Splatfest, implying that the holiday's official name is Halloween. Official art made to celebrate the occasion uses the 'Halloween' term. The Japanese version also uses Halloween when referring to the event. Dialogue for a previous Splatfest, Fancy Party vs. Costume Party, refers to the holiday as "Squidoween", though this could also be an element added in the localization as versions in other languages do not mention the term.
Gachi Bon Matsuri
A two-day event themed after the Bon Festival for Splatoon was held starting 29 April 2016 at Niconico Chokaigi. The name of the event can be translated as "Ranked (or competitive) Bon Festival". In an article from Nintendo, it was mentioned that while the Bon Festival is celebrated during summer in the human world, Inklings celebrate the holiday in the month of April. It included tournaments, giveaways, and Bon Odori dance sessions, as well as a viewing party for the Squid Sisters concert at the Chokaigi Music Festival. To promote the event, a video depicting a young Callie and Marie dancing to the Chorus of Calamari County was released. Attendees were encouraged to learn the video's choreography with dance lessons being given on site. Some fans, many of them in cosplay, were invited on stage to dance to the song during the Bon Odori session. It is unclear if the event was supposed to reflect how Inklings celebrate the Bon Festival beyond the date.
Communication and language
- Main article: Inkling (language)
Inklings communicate with each other in the Inkling language, which to human ears sounds like high-pitched, distorted noises most commonly expressed using consonant-vowel parings (i.e. woomy). Written Inkling is shown to be extremely diverse and complex, with many different 'characters' and 'alphabets' that take the most inspiration from Japanese and English. Inkling appears frequently in-game: on signs, shops, Sunken Scrolls, clothing, etc. Much of the music in the Splatoon series features lyrics sung in Inkling, such as that performed by the Squid Sisters. When the player uses signals to communicate with teammates in online battles, the player's Inkling is shown using Inkling translations.
So far, there have been no successful attempts at decoding the language, and it is generally accepted to be gibberish.
|“||Transform into a squid to hide, climb walls, or travel at super speed in your own ink. But watch out for enemy ink—it'll hurt you!||”|
|“||The squid-like residents of Inkopolis are totes crazy for color-flinging, ink-slinging, turf-splattering battles.||”|
|“||From squid…to kid…and back! Inklings can transform at will into squid form, so you've gotta master both if you want to win.||”|
|“||Swim up ink-splattered walls and jump from one splat to another in squid form.||”|
|“||Find shortcuts and navigate tricky areas.||”|
|“||Avoid being targeted by baddies by hiding in your own ink.||”|
|“||Turn into a squid to move more quickly across your ink.||”|
|“||Hide as a squid, then quickly switch to an Inkling to take enemies out of the action with a well-aimed splat.||”|
- When designing the Inklings, the Splatoon development team centered around the girl at first, to the extent that they thought at first to not have a boy Inkling. They emphasized on the girl Inkling because there weren't many female leads in Nintendo games and that having a strong, active female lead would make it easier to become accepted overseas. The boy Inkling was created later.
- The playable Inklings were originally designed as 17-year-olds since the developers wanted to give the image of a strong, rebelious character, with a "cool" attitude. But due to the boy looking too obedient at 17 they were aged down to 14-year-olds, though they were still designed as having the mood of 16 to 17-year-olds.
- Splatoon developers have stated when they came up with the concept, they didn't consider Bloopers from the Mario series, despite the close resemblance between Bloopers and Inklings.
- According to the Inkling Development Process, Inklings finalize their kid form at the age of 14. Despite this, some Inklings might be able to assume this form much earlier, as seen in Sunken Scroll 17, where the Squid Sisters are shown as children in their kid form. Another example could be the Sunken Scroll 1 in Splatoon 2, which appears to be of a young Pearl in kid form. However, due to Pearl's adult appearance still being quite childlike, it is unclear if this photo was taken before or after the age of 14.
- The Squid Research Lab admitted that Inklings may be made entirely out of ink. This theory would explain why Inklings dissolve in water, swim through grates, and reform with ease after being splatted. This also may mean that in humanoid form, they hold themselves up with 'ink pressure', which means that they use a substance in ink to retain their ability to stand and walk upright.
- Inklings seem to have multiple hearts, as implied by Cap'n Cuttlefish at the beginning of the Octo Expansion. This could be a reference to how real-life cephalopods have three hearts.
- There is conflicting evidence on whether Inklings have bones. Marie mentions once that squids lack bones and an x-ray of an Inkling can be found in Sunken Scroll 5, which shows no bones. However this Sunken Scroll features Octarian propaganda, so the x-ray might not be truthful. In the Octo Expansion, Cap'n Cuttlefish mentions his cuttlebones, although these might apply to him specifically as he is called "Cuttlefish", or just be a figure of speech.
- An Inkling's ink color is chosen at random for online battles unless the Ink Color Lock option has been turned on.
- Inklings (and Octolings) can change their hair and ink color at will when out of battle, as seen in the Splatoon manga.
- Inklings appear to all be right handed (based on weapon positioning), as there is no option to change this in the control settings.
- While the player is swimming in squid form, the music is muffled and bubbling sounds can be heard. If a player is hit by an enemy's ink and is close to being splatted, when they submerge back into their ink to heal, the Inkling can be heard quietly moaning in pain.
- Inklings are shown drinking liquids at The Crust Bucket; so it is theorized that Inklings can encounter liquids if prepared properly, though it is likely large enough quantities would still splat an Inkling.
- When switching between gear on the equipment screen, there is sometimes a small delay before the selected piece of gear appears on the player's Inkling. For that moment, they will not be wearing any gear in that slot.
- In Splatoon, for clothing, they wear a tight, sleeveless black shirt by default. For shoes, it shows their bare feet, which are flipper-like and featureless because Inklings' feet are meant to never be seen. For headgear, they simply look like they are wearing the Fake Contacts, or no headgear. However, Inklings always wear their shorts.
- In Splatoon 2, the gear-less Inklings can also be seen in Octo Canyon when they are in the temporary "danger" mode that occurs when their Hero Headphones, Hero Hoodie and Hero Boots break from taking fatal damage and after falling into water. Their legwear remains the same, but for clothing, the Inkling Boy is shirtless, while the Inkling Girl wears a black sports bra. For shoes, their feet are now properly rendered and have toes. They appear as if wearing Fake Contacts or not wearing headgear.
- Inklings have tongues as seen in the Splatoon manga and the Naughty vs. Nice Splatfest artwork, but they are not usually seen on in-game models except for in Splatoon 3 with Frye.
- During the Squid vs. Octopus Splatfest, Octoling players on Team Squid would have their avatar switched to Inklings when inside battles. In Inkopolis Square, the avatar remained unchanged. The reverse was true for Inklings on Team Octopus.
- A trophy of a female Inkling appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, which becomes available after downloading the Inkling Mii Fighter costumes. The trophy is shaped like the Inkling Girl amiibo.
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Names in other languages
|Lit. 'squid race', or Inkling. However, Inklings are more likely to be referred to as 'squid', translation below.|
|Lit. 'squid race', or Inkling. However, Inklings are more likely to be referred to as 'squid', translation below.|
|Finnish||Mustekala||Soft-bodied cephalopod (squid, octopus, cuttlefish)|
|A pun on 有型 (Stylish) and 鱿 (鱿鱼, Squid)|
- Splatoon exhibition at Tower Records - concept art
- Gameinformer - Splatoon's Burning Questions Finally Answered
- Nintendo Switch news section interview with Nogami
- "In the Splatoon series, Inklings cover the ground and walls in ink, and then swim through that ink as a squid. But if they fall into water, the ink in their bodies will diffuse and they'll dissolve." - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Inkling Tips
- Famitsu Splatoon 2 anniversary interview with the developers
- The Art of Splatoon
- Sunken Scroll 12
- Splatoon Overview
- Famitsu Interview with Splatoon development team. Posted by Brian on NintendoEverything (2015-07-26). Retrieved on 2015 July 28.
- Famitsu developer interview - NintendoEverthing translation: Splatoon staff talk about the Inkling design, more on the Squid Sisters, and other topics
- Breaking News: One of our interns recently saw a...
- Also a pun on イカ(ika, squid)
- Also a pun on 오징어(ojingeo, squid)