Dream Smashers – The Inklings

Dream Fighter Inklings

EDIT: I swapped the down-special and regular special moves around. As the main mechanic of the Inklings, i realized that it made more sense for their squid transformation to be attached to the regular special button. This makes it quicker and easier to perform when moving around.

Hello everyone and welcome to my first article for a series I’d like to call, ‘Dream Smashers’. In this series I look at the characters that are highly requested to be playable and try to work out how they might be designed. Sakurai looks for uniqueness in the characters he creates, so it’s something I will take into consideration. We do know that Sakurai did not include Chrom in the roster because he would be in between Marth and Ike.

“At the end of the day, Chrom would just end up being another plain-old sword-wielder like Marth and Ike. Compared with other characters, he lacks any unique characteristics.”

Sakurai puts a lot of thought into his character design. He does not just grab a character and slap them together with any old moveset. A lot of thought gets put into every character in order to make them fun, to stand out and to represent their role in the game. Sometimes the character will represent the franchise or an idea in general. The latter part is very interesting as sometimes characters can represent much more than first meets the eye. Duck Hunt is probably the best example. This character represents not just his own game but also the NES Light Gun games in general, as Sakurai mentions in his project presentation for Smash for 3DS/Wii U.

Lastly, a character is also chosen to fill a gap in the roster. Sakurai explains this in his GDC 2008 presentation where characters like Ike and Snake were tapped to fill unique roles in the roster: the Burly Swordsman and Heavy Weapon Specialist respectively. It is with all of these in mind that I am going to try and explain which characters are likely and how they might function in the Super Smash brother’s series. Now Sakurai is very unpredictable so I can never be 100% accurate with my expectations.  So, with this introduction out of the way, let us move onto today’s character, straight outta Nintendo’s newest hit IP Splatoon, the Inklings!

Who are the Inklings?

The Inklings Smashified, by Artsy Omni et al

Gimmick: Controlling the terrain with limited ammo.

Niche: Hide-and-seek Fighter

The Inklings are a name given to the squid like race in Nintendo’s new IP Splatoon. Specifically, an Inkling is a squid that can also transform into a human-like character. They act as avatars in the game allowing the player to customize their eye colour, clothes and gender. Inklings are highly competitive and love to play in various competitions, the most prominent being turf wars. Turf wars are 4-on-4 matches were two teams of Inklings try and cover as much ground in their own teams Ink colour. It is like a brighter, messier form of paintball. Inklings are also very self-conscious about their appearance and want to be as ‘fresh’ as possible. This causes them to keep up with the fashion and wear various different outfits. The colours, the outfits and the genders are what make the Inklings stand out from each other and thus, how to tell apart from each player’s avatars.

Like the other avatar character in Smash – Robin – the Inklings will have gender variations with four colours for the female and four colours for the male. The default appearance of the fighter would be the orange Female Inkling as that is the one Nintendo have used the most in their marketing and was the main focus during the games development:

“The main emphasis was on the girl, to the extent that we thought at first whether it would be alright to not have a boy (laughs).” – Inoue

So with all this in mind, it only makes sense for the characters different colour variations to also involve variations in clothing as well.

Their History and Importance to Nintendo/Franchise

In terms of importance to their own franchise, I mentioned previously how the Inklings were the avatars of Splatoon–the link between the player and the game world. So it should be obvious why they would get chosen over other named character like the Squid Sisters or Judd.

It all began with tofu
It all began with tofu.

In terms of how important the Inklings and Splatoon, are to Nintendo and the history they share is currently rather unique. At this time of writing, Splatoon has not even been out for three months and the development history of the game has been very well documented in an Iwata Asks released around the launch of the game. The Inklings are the protagonists of Nintendo’s latest IP and have received a ton of backing since the game launched with continuous and free, post-release, DLC updates that have kept Splatoon fresh. It is very apparent that Nintendo views this new IP as being a contender for one of their big franchises. Reggie even described it as being the Mario Kart equivalent for the shooter genre.

As Nintendo’s newest major IP it seems unbelievable to think that they will not show up in the Super Smash Brothers series at some point. In Smash for Wii U/3DS they received costumes and a trophy as part of the latest DLC group. For me this actually says that they will not be added into Super Smash Bros for Wii U/3DS  because for the next iteration of Super Smash Brothers Nintendo is going to want a major new IP to push as big newcomers for the game. This is similar to what they did with Animal Crossing in the latest version of Smash; although this is just my opinion. The Inklings could very well be included as DLC for Super Smash Brothers for 3DS and Wii U and fellow writer Smashchu has already written up a good argument for them so if you are interested then check it out.

How will they play?

Original sprites by Anvil. Recolours by myself.

So I have established that the Inklings fit into a lot of the criteria that Sakurai uses when he chooses his newcomers for the latest Super Smash Brothers. However, they have one last criteria to fill–the most important criteria of them all, they need to be fun to play as. So let me show you how I think the Inklings could play in order to make them really fun and overall unique. But first, some statistics:

  • Can they Crawl: No
  • Can they Wall Jump: No
  • How many jumps do they have: 2
  • Is there any exclusive abilities they have*: No
  • Weight Class: C
  • Height Class: C
  • Speed Class: C+
  • Are they mirrored when they face the left: Yes

*For example, Peach can float

The gimmick for the Inklings is what I called a ‘hide-and-seek’ fighter. What I mean by this is that the Inklings best method of attack is to cover the platforms and area in ink. Using this ink, the player can hide on the spot or swim around the arena. Due to the Inklings being close to the ground most projectiles would go over the Inklings head. Another advantage is the ability to be unseen, provided that you stay perfectly still. This could lead to great surprise attacks, jumping out of the ink and pouncing on any unsuspecting rival. That is the general idea behind the inklings but they also have another gimmick that matches their series. In Splatoon, the inklings have a limited amount of ink that they must refill when they dive into ink. This forces the player to use the diving mechanic and could be used in Smash Brothers in the same way. You can still attack with an empty ink canister but it would be basically worthless as it would do little damage and produce little ink.

The ink gauge would appear on the right of the character icon during battles.

With that, here is what I think is the best moveset for the Inklings. It would make good use of everything the Inklings can use in Splatoon from their main weapons to their sub-weapons. (Note: Pictures are provided where available to help with the visualization of the move but not every move is found in their game of origin. Some have been made for Smash.)

Action and Name Image Move Description
Neutral – Splattershot   Very similar to Mega Man, the Inklings Neutral attack is them firing their Splattershot. This had to be done because covering the arena in ink is such an important part of their game and character so it needed to be translated over to the game as well. Their ink represents their colour and in a team battle the Inklings would all share the same colour in a team.
F-Tilt – Splattershot (running) Following on from the neutral attack, this move is also like Megaman as it allows the inklings to run and shoot at the same time.
Up-Tilt – Splatter-whip The inkling swings the Splattershot in an arc. From the front to above and over their head. It does not leave any ink but it knocks people upwards.
D-Tilt – Splattershot (Down) With this move, the Inkling fires the ground directly with the Splattershot. The impact will cause ink to fly to either side doing light damage to opponents but its main purpose is for emergency ink situations. If you are low on ink and you fire this into the ground, then you can jump into it to restore your ink. It’s a last ditch effort.
Dash Attack – Splatterscope   The Splatterscope as the dash attack allows the Inklings to have a rather unique dash attack. Most dash attacks propel the player forward but the Splatterscope sends them backwards. This works because it is a range attack, meaning that the Inklings do not need to be close to their opponents. The Splatterscope comes out, a long stream of paint comes flying out – piercing opponents – and sending the inkling a little bit backwards.
Up Smash – Splatling   The Inkling slams the Splatling into the ground, the nozzles facing towards the sky, and open fires for a few brief seconds. It uses a lot of ink.
Down Smash – Ink Mine   This move is similar to what Snake had in brawl. The mine is placed into the ground and explodes a bit later. However it varies if there is ink on the ground. If you are above ink then it works fine but if there is no ink under you then it explodes instantly, damaging your opponents but also you. It uses about ½ of the ink canister.
Forward Smash – Slosher   The inkling uses the slosher just like in splatoon. They throw a bucket of ink in front of them. This leaves a large puddle of ink and sends people flying. One of the strongest attacks in the Inklings arsenal. It uses up a lot of ink however.
N-air – Inkbrush Swipe   The Inkling maniacally swings the Inkbrush in front of them. It spreads ink a little even if it does not hit anyone.
B-air – Inkbrush Swipe The inkling swings backwards with the Inkbrush, causing them to do a 360 spin.
U-air – Inkbrush Swipe The inkling swings the Inkbrush above them, causing the character to basically do a backflip.
D-air – Inkbrush Swipe The inkling moves their Inkbrush below them almost like they were sweeping a broom in midair.
Grab – Standard grab Just a simple grab. They reach forward with whatever hand is closer to the background.
Pummel – Point blank Splattershot Holding the opponent in front of them, the inkling open fires with the Splattershot before letting go. This spreads ink around the player.
F-throw – Standard throw The Inkling would throw the opponent in the same way they would throw one of the bombs. It is the weakest throw and leaves no ink.
B-throw – Slosher throw   They throw the opponent behind them in the same motion as they would use the Slosher weapon. No ink is used though.
U-throw – Suction throw   The Inkling throws the opponent into the air with a suction bomb attached. The bomb will go off and send the opponent higher into the air. The most powerful throw but uses the most ink (about ½).
D-throw – Point blank downwards This is similar to the pummel except the inkling throws their enemy into the floor first. It is similar to fox’s down throw but slower.
Neutral Special 1 – Squid   This is probably the most important special move of the Inklings. With the  special, the inkling turns into a squid and goes into the ink. If there is no ink they just kind of sit there so make sure there is some! When submerged in ink, your ink tank will refill rather fast and is the ideal way to get your ink back. If you stay still in the ink then you turn invisible. You can only be seen while moving. You can get knocked out of the ink however if your opponent does any of the down attacks. They can also do this to remove your ink from the stage.
Neutral Special 2 – Ninja Squid The second custom is the ninja squid. With this custom you won’t be seen even when you move! But, you will not be able to see yourself in the ink either which could be a problem.
Neutral Special 3 – Kraken The third custom special is the Kraken. When you turn into the Kraken you are powerful. You can push opponents away and although you are slower you are also bigger so you cover more ground. The problem though is that you cannot hide in the ink as the Kraken, you are too big! This makes you an easy target for opponents. Your ink also increases slower than normal because you are not as submerged.
Side Special 1 – Burst Bomb   The Inklings side special makes use of their sub weapons. The Burst Bomb is a simple bomb. They use about 1/3 of the ink tank per bomb but can be thrown really fast in succession. The burst bomb explodes on impact with the ground or enemy player.
Side Special 2 – Splat Bomb   The Splat Bomb is the second custom and uses about ½ of the ink tank. The bomb has a bigger blast radius but does not explode on impact. It does a little damage if it hits an opponent but takes a second to explode. Rival players could potentially pick it back up and throw it away or towards the player if they are fast enough.
Side Special 3 – Seeker   The third custom is the Seeker weapon. When thrown, it moves along the ground similar to a bombchu. It has a small blast radius but leaves a trail of ink in its wake. Due to this it uses about 2/3rds of the ink canister.
Up Special 1 – Super Jump   The super jump does exactly what it does in Splatoon. The Inkling is propelled upwards at a slight 10 degree angle. They are in squid form and if they hit another player with the tip of their head it will do damage. When they reach the peak of their jump and begin to fall, they will turn back into their human form and fall. This means they can go from a super jump straight into their air attacks. If they are hit in their squid form from an opponent then the jump stops and they just fall after experiencing knockback. The height of the jump is about the same as King Dedede’s
Up Special 2 – Quick Super Jump   The second custom is the quick super jump The jump is a lot faster to take off and reach its peak but because it goes so fast the Inkling never turns back into a human form until they hit the ground again.
Up Special 3 – Squid Jump   The third custom is rather unique. Based on the squid jump mini game, the player can hold down the special button to charge up power. At full power they will begin to flash red and when let go they will fly really high, a recovery higher than most other fighters. However if the player tries to jump with a simple tap of the special button then they will hardly go anywhere.
Down Special 1 – Splatroller   The Splat Roller is a very powerful attack. If the down special button is just pressed once then the Inkling swings the roller in front of them. This splats ink in front of them and knocks people down but does not meteor smash. Then, if you hold down the special button and begin to move then the inkling will begin to run with splat roller and spread ink similar to how they do it in Splatoon. This does damage to anyone you hit, giving a little knockback to opponents. It uses a lot of ink however.
Down Special 2 – Dynamoroller   The Dynamo Roller is the second custom. This roller is stronger than the splat roller but slower and uses more ink. Its initial attack also has a meteor effect.
Down Special 3 – Inkbrush   The Inkbrush, as the third custom, is the opposite. It is smaller and weaker but you move a lot faster when it is used and uses very little ink up.
Down-Side Special – Spin Jump When in squid form and when in ink, the player can get out of it by pressing any of the buttons. Depending on the button they press, the inkling will jump out of the water and initiate that action whether it is a roller attack, a regular attack, a grab or a jump. There are 2 exceptions to this though. By pressing Up-Special you just activate the super jump. Simple. Pressing the side special however activates a different attack, the spin jump. Here the squid inkling jumps out and spins, damaging opponents before landing back into the ink. They can be hit while doing this attack. If they are in Kraken form then they do more damage and if you are a ninja squid you do not jump as high or spin as long.
Final Smash – Inkzooka   The Inkzooka acts like it does in Splatoon. It can be fired either left or right and  shoots a tornado of ink that gets bigger the further it goes. The player gets about 6 shots or 10 seconds after activation before the final smash disappears.
Up Taunt – Slosher victory pose   The Inkling will pull out the slosher and perform the end of the Slosher’s victory animation where they spin the weapon on their finger like a basketball.
Side Taunt – Squid Sisters   The Inkling will perform the Squid Sisters signature pose. If the Inkling is facing right then they will do Marie’s pose; if left, they will do Callies. Stay Fresh!
Down Taunt – Squid form
Credit goes to Togekisser for the artwork.
The Inkling will spin and turn into a squid. When in Squid form it will perform a happy pose before falling to the ground. If you are above your own ink you will actually fall into the ink; if you are not, then you will just splash around like a Goldeen.
Victory animation 1 – The Zapfish   Taken from the story mode.
Victory animation 2 – Splattershot victory   Different for male and females Inkling.
Victory animation 3 – Ink jumping   Very similar to the first trailer, we see a squid jumping through blots of ink before surfacing as a human in front of the screen.


Victory theme (just the first 4 seconds of the video):

I hope you enjoyed my moveset idea for the Inklings. Leave a comment telling me if you think it is a fun idea, if you would use the Inklings or if you disagree with anything. I look forward to reading all of your constructive feedback that you have for me. Until next time… Staaaay fresh!

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  1. With a ton of weapons, their ability to transform, their use of ink as a weapon and a tool plus all the ways they can interact with that ink, they do have a lot of potential to be unique and fun.

    Add to that their vibrant personalities and style and they would add something unique to the game.
    That’s the sort of thing Sakurai likes so they do have a good chance, it’d be the first time a new series has a character added to a previous smash game through DLC but this is the first smash game that’s had DLC.

  2. The Inklings are absolutely amazing, and would be really cool in Smash. Certainly they’ve got enough style and potential to make everyone happy, and it’d be nice to have a Wii U character included. As a roller, I’m more than happy to see it get a Special, and I like them working a bit like Olimar or Little Mac, fighters whose standing in the match is almost geared to fluctuate.

    Here’s one issue I have, though: I think it makes a lot of sense to emphasize the terrain control element and what you’ve put forth sounds really exciting, but I have to admit I’m a little iffy about a few of the more specific mechanics. Are your opponents able to, say, remove ink with attacks? Would it work differently depending on the number of Inklings in the match. or if it was a team battle? How well would it work on the 3DS? Could there be a visual issue, not just for gameplay but in having the terrain be so “messy?”

    I don’t think any of these are insurmountable problems (and I’d prefer them to be as unique as possible, something this system does really well), but I am having a bit hard of a time visualizing it.

  3. I did think about all of them issues at different points. I thought i wrote the first one out but perhaps not. I was thinking that enemies could destroy patches of your ink with their down attacks, both standard, special and smash.

    The number of Inklings would not affect the game but team would, i was thinking that the colour of ink would change to your teams colour with orange being substituted for red. I do not expect the hair to change colour but they could get away with that as well because their alts are more than just recolours, they change visually with clothing.

    Lastly, the visual issue; I believe that it will not be possible to have them on the 3DS. I did say in my article that i actually do not expect the Inklings to appear as DLC for this game, rather they will appear in the next iteration of smash. Part of this is due to the 3DS’ technical limitations and the smaller screen would make it hard to see which platforms have been inked and which have not. Now Sakurai could add them to the game without this gimmick but i feel like he will not. This is what makes the Inklings unique and different to other shooters and that will not be captured properly. They would end up just being a weapon specialist character which we already had with Snake and kind-of have with Megaman. The Inklings are also a Mii gunner costume so they need something to differentiate themselves from the Mii gunners outside of their moveset, a gimmick that works for them.

  4. I don’t think they will be mirrored because most mirrored characters are symmetrical, which usually means they don’t hold a weapon. I also wonder if they could wall jump but in a way that mirrors there wall climbing ability in their home games.

    I’d also give the Booyah!/C’mon pings for one of their taunts, but it was clever to take some inspiration from the minigames for a move.

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