Inklings (Japanese: インクリング Inkuringu) are a species of squid-like humanoids and the customizable characters that players take control of within the games Splatoon and Splatoon 2. Inklings live in Inkopolis. As the main protagonists, they don't die, and instead easily respawn after being "splatted." When first starting the game, the player is given the option to choose between genders (boy and girl), eye colors, and skin colors. These can be changed later from the Options menu. They also have no bones. Inklings are said to have some kind of gene that allows them to see certain colors in certain ways.
After rising sea levels killed off the human species, and possibly most land-dwelling life on Earth, squids (and some other marine invertebrates) evolved to become the dominant species on the planet. During this "Mollusk Era" they developed culture, language, and especially warfare. One hundred years before the events of the game, Inklings and Octarians engaged in a great war referred to as "the Great Turf War." Initially, the Inklings were defeated due to their inability to get up early enough, but they rebounded. A young Cap'n Cuttlefish and his comrades won, sending the Octarians away, to live underground for many years. Octarians return for the events of Splatoon's hero mode, where you have to rescue the stolen Great Zapfish.
Inklings appear in a likely non-canon role in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where Inklings of both genders and several colors are new playable characters. One of their trick animations involves them turning into squid form.
Inklings can alternate between humanoid and squid form, which coincidentally resembles the Bloopers from the Super Mario video game series.
The humanoid form has a black marking resembling a mask around their eyes, pointed ears, and tentacles that change color in battle depending on the color of ink that their team uses. They possess pointed teeth similar in shape to a squid's beak. Their squid form resembles a brightly-colored cephalopod the same color as the Inkling's "hair" with two long clubbed tentacles, four shorter tentacles, and two large eyes that seem to be joined. Inklings evidently have no bones, excellent eyesight, and the ability to leap five feet in a single bound, as shown in one of the Sunken Scrolls. They are characterized as being aggressive. Their spoken language is composed of high-pitched gargling noises.
Known colors for Inklings and their ink include orange, blue, green, lime green, purple, turquoise, yellow, and pink. These colors vary in shade slightly depending on the color of the opposing team. Additional colors appear in the story mode campaign.
Inklings are customizable. If the player chooses a girl inkling, she will have smaller, thinner eyebrows, straight cut bangs that are curve toward the left, and two long, flowing tentacles that hang from both sides of the head, resembling hair. A boy inkling has noticeably thicker eyebrows, and his main tentacles are secured into a ponytail, with a camouflage-print hairband, at the back of his head, again resembling hair. Splatoon 2 offers the potential to customize Inklings' hairstyles.
They gain the ability to transform between humanoid and squid form at the age of 14. Art from the Sunken Scrolls shows that prior to this, they resemble squids with four limbs, and as infants they appear fully squidlike.
All Inklings' forms have abilities associated with them. In humanoid form, Inklings can splatter a special type of colored ink by using various weapons, such as a gun that resembles a Super Soaker. This ink can be quickly spread over many surfaces with the exception of things such as green barrels, tarps, and glass. This ink can inhibit the movement of Inklings that do not have a matching color. When used as a projectile, ink can damage opposing Inklings. In squid form, an Inkling can swim and jump quickly through ink of the same color to swim up walls, through wire fences, and grates, into areas that are not typically reachable. Squids cannot travel past striped barriers, typically at the top of walls, to swim into inaccessible areas. While in squid form, if Inklings are in their own ink color, they will be invisible if they stay still and when moving quickly, only slight ripples will appear. While submerged in ink, they will also refill their ink reserves, which the humanoid Inkling can use for their weapons. When squid form Inklings are on an inkless surface, they will be visible and move slowly, even slower than a humanoid Inkling.
Inklings are unable to swim in water. When underwater, their form dissolves because their bodies are actually made of liquid. This may also be what allows squid-form Inklings to pass through grates and travel along ink lines.
In the Nintendo Switch teaser, there are inklings with new and interesting hairstyles, such as the green inkling boy's greased hair, and the pink inkling girl's with short hair.
"Death(s)" and Splatting
See also: Splat
Inklings do not actually die in-game. However, they can be "splatted" in one of three ways: from water, enemy ink, or falling off of a ledge.
When they fall in water, because they are already made of liquid, they will dissolve, leaving their clothes and weapon in the water. When they are splatted from enemy fire, the Inkling's weapons and clothes will fall to the ground, while the Inkling will explode in the enemy's ink color. When they are splatted like this, a ghost that looks like the squid form Inkling will float into the air. Also, if an Inkling falls off of a level in Hero Mode, they will explode as well, but in their own ink color after which they will respawn at the Spawn Point or at a checkpoint.
- The developers said when they came up with the Squid idea, they didn't think of the resemblance of the Inkling squid shares with the Blooper from the Super Mario Bros. series.
- Both the male and female Inklings have 10 limbs and can be seen from their "hair" which feature 6 tentacles, which when added with their arms and legs make 10.
- It is not specified what sort of squids the Inklings may have evolved from, but it was likely a predatory species such as the Humboldt squid, which is known to be intelligent and aggressive, and has the ability to rapidly change color. However, it is more likely that they are based on the Japanese Flying Squid, which can glide up to 30 meters using jet propulsion, something the inklings can do in-game.
- In later development of Splatoon, the Inkling Girl was the first character available to play that made the cut. The Inkling Boy was then designed after her and in likeness.
- In the Splatoon manga included in CoroCoro Comic, Issue 4 shows the Inklings attempting to swim in a pool at Mahi-Mahi Resort; forgetting they didn't know how to swim, they nearly drowned in the water (not dissolving like in the game).
- In the new Nintendo Switch reveal video a brief moment of Splatoon is shown and the inklings are shown with hairstyles.
- The only translatable word in the Inkling Language is "Woomy" which becomes to "Boo yah".
- A full gallery can be found here.