Here’s What Splatoon Would Have Looked Like On the NES

Splatoon
(Photo: Nathan Heckel)

The Splatoon franchise has come a long way over the past few years, getting its start on the Wii U and eventually expanding to the Nintendo Switch last summer with the improved Splatoon 2. But where can it go from here? Obviously, Splatoon 3 is going to happen in just a few years’ time…but what about the Nintendo Entertainment System?

That’s what a former Vitel staffer by the name of Nathan Heckel pitched to Nintendo some time ago. In case you’re not familiar with Vitel, they worked on the Steel Diver and Tank Troopers games, so they were pretty close with the company.

Heckel pondered the idea of an 8-bit Splatoon game last year, suggesting it more as a single player/multiplayer based game, rather than the 3D adventure as we know it now. "While I was at Vitei wrapping up work on Tank Troopers as a gameplay programmer, I wanted to start my own project to pitch to Nintendo for a follow-up contract," explains Heckel. "As I'd been studying NES programming as a hobby for some time, I suggested the idea for a NES version of Splatoon to my former boss, Vitei CEO Giles Goddard."

You can see some unfinished footage of Splatoon’s 8-bit journey in the tweet below, which looks like something akin to Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Rescue Rangers’ 2D exploits, but with an Inkling kid running around.

The visuals were put together by Pirate Pop Plus developer Dadako, and it looked to have a pretty solid foundation. Heckel even had an alternate plan to get the game into the hands of players. "While actual cartridges would've been really cool, that was always the longest shot," he noted. "Short of that, I was hoping to have it packaged with Splatoon 2 like Star Fox Guard was packaged with Star Fox Zero used as a mini-game like the retro-themed diversions in Splatoon 1, sold on the Virtual Console, or included in a hypothetical 2nd version of the NES Classic Edition."

But, alas, it didn’t happen. "In terms of presenting to Nintendo, I put together a set of slides outlining the progress on the demo, possible scope of the game, a development timeline, and sales avenues. I sent this to a member of the Splatoon team I was able to reach. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. While I can't speak for Nintendo, the pitch was sent after Splatoon 2 had been announced for the summer this year. Not having any visibility into unannounced projects, my guess had been that a sequel wouldn't be out until the summer of 2018, and a NES version could be paired with it in some form. Instead, I caught them when they were probably very busy finishing the game."

That said, he is feeling that development on the game should continue. “While I can't use the Splatoon IP without a development contract with Nintendo, it'd be possible to re-purpose it as a different title entirely. Continued development in full would depend on a publisher expressing interest."

It would be neat to see it happen. Plus, the music sounds pretty amazing, based on the YouTube clip featured below. C’mon, Nintendo.

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Splatoon 2 is available now for Nintendo Switch.

(Hat tip to Nintendo Life for the details!)