Splatoon has been Nintendo’s most successful new IP in modern times, and its presentation plays a large part in that. Colorful cities with sea life inhabitants, a focus on fashion, and its ink-based action paint a picture of creativity that clearly resonated with Nintendo’s audience. Diving even deeper, its signature music plays an essential part in giving the series its special identity. Splatoon’s unique brand of tunes mixes genres like surf rock, pop, and hip hop with its fictional aquatic language to create a soundscape wholly unlike anything else on the (fish) market. From expansion music to live concerts, boss themes, and the focus on songs sung by in-game idols, there are tracks for almost anyone to enjoy. So, what better way would there be to capitalize on this than by letting Splatoon take on a genre built for music lovers? Here’s what Splatoon could look like as a rhythm game.
(For the last part in this “what if” series, check out Fire Emblem as an adventure game.)
Don’t get cooked, stay off the hook
At first glance, Splatoon as a rhythm game would be exactly as you imagine it. A single-player offering would take gamers through a series of increasingly difficult songs to master. However, from here on out, the unique personality of the Splatoon series gets its chance to shine. Much like Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory, a Splatoon rhythm game could differentiate itself from other rhythm titles by putting a spotlight on story and mechanics that are familiar for fans of the franchise. Instead of just hitting on-screen prompts with perfect timing, the game would ask players to shoot approaching targets with ink-based weapons. Each hit plays the next note of a song, while misses inflict damage and diving into the ink below grants players a momentary point multiplier for the next few targets.
The game could explore the backstory of Splatoon’s characters and world by focusing on two separate campaigns following either the Squid Sisters or Pearl and Marina. Framed as a walk back through memory lane, the game could let players tour various locations in Inkopolis that each represent a different world to tackle. Each level within these worlds displays the pair’s memories on screen to provide some backstory for the idols and Splatoon’s larger mythos. Boss levels would cap off each world and use remixes of songs used in prior levels before culminating in rap segments that are similar to those seen in prior series bosses or Splatfests. Depending on the timing of the release, a Splatoon rhythm game could even be a great way to introduce players to the inevitable third pair of idols that we’ll see in Splatoon 3.
A Splatoon rhythm game also has much more to offer beyond experiencing its story solo. Having a pair of protagonists naturally lends itself well to local or online cooperative play for the story campaigns, while bonus modes such as a score attack with leaderboards and multiplayer versus battles could offer fun ways to compete with friends and family. Various difficulty options and rewards such as music tracks, concept art, and alternate playable characters like Judd could add some replayability to the package too.
Perhaps the most promising features could revolve around cross-progression with the main series. Unlockable cosmetics like clothes and weapon skins exclusive to the rhythm game could be carried over to the core games and vice versa. Splatfests that occur in the main series could simultaneously occur in this rhythm game. Players could then perform the Splatfest concert from the perspective of the idols on stage above Inkopolis Square. By turning Splatoon into a rhythm game, the series can explore the backstory of its world and characters, while giving fans an exciting way to engage with its one-of-a-kind selection of music.
Would you like to experience Splatoon’s music in a new light?