Splatoon 2 is a game about squid-kids waging war with neon ink. It isn't an easy one to explain to grandma. And it takes place in a freaky world that raises a lot of questions. What did squid kids evolve from? How do they get so much ink in those little ink guns? Where are these kids' parents?
At E3 in Los Angeles, I sat down with Splatoon 2 producer Hisashi Nogami and asked him my burning Splatoon 2 questions, including "What do squid kids eat?" I walked away from our conversation feeling more confused than ever about Inkopolis and the strange little creatures who live there.
"One thing we know about the world of Splatoon is that mammals are basically gone," said Nogami, seated across from me in a small room behind Nintendo's booth. "So they don't eat beef or pork or the meat of mammals."
With Splatoon 2 playing on a screen, Nogami walked his Inkling over to a corner in Inkopolis square where a bright ad played for cereal. A crab chowed down on a bowl of milky carbs. "There's no mammals, so whatever is being poured over the cereal might not be milk," Nagomi laughed.
Hm. OK. So what do Inklings eat? "Veggies, birds, fish," said Nagami. "Some bread."
Recently, Splatoon 2 got a new stage called MakoMart, which takes place in a market full of Inkling food. Aisles of colourful cereal boxes take up a lot of the arena along with apparently frozen fish steaks, frozen pizza, octopus tentacle popsicles (hopefully not actually made out of Octolings, who live in this world too), coffee, bananas, watermelon and doughnuts.
There's also a Kelp Dome stage, which Inkling Callie introduces by saying: "I heard they grow veggies in here too!" That's all pretty tame.
So if Inklings eat fish, I asked, do they eat squids?
"Inklings in this world are an evolved form of the squids in our world," said Nogami. "Things like the food chain still exist." Nogami said it's possible that squids exist in Inkopolis the way they do IRL, adding that, if they do, "it's definitely possible that an Inkling could potentially eat squids". Yikes!
That isn't the only potential instance of near-cannibalism in Splatoon 2. If you've played the game, you've surely seen Crusty Sean, a deep-fried tempura shrimp selling snacks out of a food truck in Inkopolis square. What's on his menu? Glad you asked:
"Shwaffles" and "Seanwiches" make up his wares. Uh, dude, are you OK? Is inflation costing you an arm and a leg? Why are you selling your own appendages, man? When I look at his menu, I imagine Crusty Sean cracking off a leg, tossing it in the fryer, and serving it up over the counter. The double battle experience boost really isn't worth it to me!
A Salmonid gobbling up an Inkling. Image: Splatoon 2's wiki
Since Nogami had confirmed the potential for squid cannibalism, I wondered whether Inklings have any natural predators. Nogami explained that the world of Splatoon has its own version of the food chain.
"From what I understand, salmon in our world will eat squid if they have the opportunity," he said.
That's reflected in Splatoon 2's Salmon Run mode, in which big, terrifying Salmonids - a race of ridiculous fish creatures - can eat Inklings. They will just swallow 'em up. I never thought of that as canon Splatoon biology, but hey, now we know.
On the screen beside us, Nogami walked his Inkling avatar over to a lounging cat. Under it sat a bowl and, within the bowl, a small piece of salmon. Nogami smiled. So, cats eat salmon, which eat Inklings, which eat carbs, veggies, fruit, birds, fish, maybe squids and, also, Crusty Sean?
Said Nogami: "How things are actually happening in the food chain in the world of Splatoon we'll leave that to the imagination."