Smash History: Inkling

Background

Background

Inklings live in the sprawling city of Inkopolis. A fashionably trendy city, Inkopolis is where all the trendy squid kids live out their youths doing what Inklings do best: fight with their ink. They engage in a sort of strange turf warfare where they use their ink to mark their land. Whichever team ends with the most territory wins the match. When they’re not engaged in playing with one another, they’re fending off their homeland from the invasion of the Octolings and claiming their home… though they’ve been easing up on their fears of the Octo-menace in recent years.Why they were requested.

Why Inkling?

Inklings were never really requested so much as assumed to be included in Smash in some capacity at some point. Splatoon came out a year after Smash Bros for Wii U. Due to that people weren’t really sure what the plan for them was. Fans guessed that they’d probably make it in a DLC. After all, Splatoon was being heavily pushed by Nintendo. However, that did not happen. Fans naturally assumed that for whatever reason director Masahiro Sakurai just couldn’t make them work in time.

Still, fans wanted the Inklings.  The original Splatoon was one of Nintendo’s few break-out hits on their failing Wii U console. People absolutely adored the neon-colored shellfish children. Fans were excited by Nintendo successfully launching a major new IP that could stand alongside Mario and Zelda as a tentpole franchise. It was just that -much like those aforementioned series- Splatoon was considered so quickly as a major new series for the company that it was always a matter of “when”, not “if”. If Splatoon exploded so quickly on the Wii U, then it was a given that any successor on their then mysterious follow-up console would do even better. There was never any reason for any fear, and thus no reason to explode into fury as to Inklings not making it in as DLC characters like other fan favorites.

Analysis

Whenever Sakurai designs a character for Smash, he never simply assigns B-special moves to a character and calls it a day. However, as Smash has evolved, Sakurai has gone through more painstaking efforts to capture the feel of the character’s game of origin even if they do not take combat roles. For example, you rarely see Captain Falcon out of vehicle in F-Zero, so Sakurai had to create an entirely distinct moveset for him. It’s not enough to make Captain Falcon move quick and hit hard, but also acknowledge that judging the proper timing to boost and when to slow down is a major part of his game. That’s why his moves all have some component of exaggerated wind-up and/or cool down time to them.

This is all important to establish when discussing how Inkling works. In Splatoon, combat is an obstacle to overcome, but it is not the end goal of the game. The goal is actually to capture the territory by covering as much land as possible. However, Smash Bros actually switches this role; the environment is the main obstacle to your end goal of taking out another player. Sakurai very cleverly then made a similar switch to how Inklings work in Smash Bros; rather than cover territory, they cover their opponent, which makes them more vulnerable. All of Inkling’s moves are based around creating opportunities to spread ink no matter where your opponent is; Side B is an Ink roller that buries your opponent thus providing more inking, Down B is a bomb that covers a wide radius, and Neutral B allows you to shoot and control your ink from a distance.

Final Thoughts

It’s nice to see Nintendo create a new character that so immediately resonates with audiences as Mario and Link have. We can assume that from now on, Inkling is a given in future Smash games as Splatoon has quickly cemented itself as one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises along with Mario, Kirby, and Pokemon. We’re happy to have you on board, Inkling!