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So long and thanks for all the memes, Splatoon

As the Nintendo Network closes down and takes Splatoon’s paint-based battles with it, we reminisce about the funky fresh multiplayer game.

Splatoon 1 feature - two Idols and a stretched inkling on a city backdrop

Well, it’s of-fish-ial – the Wii U and 3DS servers are officially offline, meaning you can no longer play the original Splatoon on Nintendo’s controversial console. In the wake of this, we look back at Splatoon 1 and how the community is commemorating the squid-tastic game.

As much as the Wii U wasn’t the best console, it did absolutely have its moments. After all, we got Splatoon, Super Mario Maker, Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival, and so many other excellent titles. I personally quite like my Wii U, though now that the servers are gone I can’t play Mario Kart and Splatoon anymore.

Speaking of the main man Mario, there was a recent scramble to complete every Super Mario Maker level before the servers went offline, with the very last level – Trimming the Herbs – getting a completion just days before the shutdown after years of nobody managing to do it. Congratulations, Team Zero Percent, you’ve made history.

Anyway, let’s get back to the topic at hand – or fin, I should say. Splatoon really was, and still is, an excellent addition to Nintendo’s roster. Yes, sure, we’ve now got Splatoon 2 and 3 on Switch, but the original gave us so much. The very fact that it’s a game where you hurl colored ink at the floor and win by painting surfaces, that you’re a squid-themed child that dies if it touches water, and that you use upcycled household items as weaponry makes Splatoon a very unique game.

Loading into the game shows you a room belonging to your very own inkling, decorated with weaponry and suitably inky artwork. Even this tiny crumb of personality is missed in later games, though Splatoon 3 does give us a customizable locker.

Splatoon feature - a Sunken Scroll featured in the game showing a fossilised skeleton

There are some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moments sprinkled in the OG Splatoon, such as this questionable controller setup discovered in a Sunken Scroll in the game. It’s literally a Wii controller tied to a Wii U Pro controller. But, fun fact, this was actually a real workaround so that two players playing locally could both use motion controls, as there were very few motion control-supporting controllers at the time.

Also, did you know there was an official Spongebob Squarepants Splatfest in the first game? Because I didn’t, and I really wish this nautical nonsense had come back in later games. There was also a Pokémon Red vs Pokémon Blue Splatfest before that. Where oh where did these crossovers go?

The biggest thing to come out of Splatoon is perhaps the memes, most notably, Splat Tim. Haven’t heard of him? You’ve probably seen him – a slightly warped inkling on a victory screen that famously states, “its splat tim”. The tweet was meant to say it’s splat time, but it was too late. Tim was born. People have even cosplayed the meme, it got so big.

Splatoon feature - Kaori and John featured in official art of the game

The two other famous characters coming out of Splatoon – not the Squid Sisters, though they’re obviously up there too – are Kaori and John, the orange and blue inklings that feature on the box art and promotion materials. They welcomed us into the franchise and now stand proud on our desks as amiibo figures.

We’re still hoping that two stages called Saltspray Rig and Urchin Underpass come back in Splatoon 3, otherwise, these two stages are now lost to time. The first Splatoon game can keep the finicky Seeker special, though. I don’t need that back.

So let’s give it up – one final booyah for the Wii U and the fun we had on its disjointed double screens. Reddit and X now have plenty of bittersweet farewell posts to stir up your emotions, even if you’re the most stoic of squids.

Splatoon is for sure one of the best Switch games out there, and my favorite multiplayer Switch game – if you want to dive in, check out all the Splatoon characters you can meet in the trilogy of games.