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Nightmare Fuel / Splatoon

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"When smoke rises from the seven rings, The [sic] pinkfish will emerge from the sea, devouring all the creatures of the land." -The Book of Madai, chapter 10, verse 10

"We actually have a phrase in Japan: "dark Nintendo" or "the dark side of Nintendo." It's something the players have said, but I remember Mr. Iwata saying it as well. It's not something that we're spending too much time [on,] trying to make sure our games are edgy and dark, but that we want them to be believable. We want them to feel like they have heft and weight to them."
Hisashi Nogami

You'd think that an absolutely adorable, colorful third-person shooter created by the family-friendly Nintendo wouldn't have that many terrifying moments... if you haven't been paying any attention whatsoever.

Unmarked spoilers below.

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    Splatoon 1 
  • The single player trailer revealed an Octoling in the footage, with glowing goggles.
  • The Octarians themselves are creepy, as the grunt soldiers are living tentacles who use machines to get around. Their intelligence is.. debatable, and they seem to lack a sense of object permanence; when you realize that severed octopus tentacles can still live for some time with some autonomy, you realize that the Octarian grunts are basically severed tentacles sent into battle, as confirmed by the artbook.
    • Moreover, it is said that they are created by amputating tentacles from a 'host'...the question is, what the hell are these hosts? Unless there is some species we did not see thus far, the only possible candidates are the your are fighting unnatural abominations created via Body Horror. Quite desperate they are if they literally mutilate their own people to make those things, even if they can (supposedly) regenerate tentacles.
  • The Mighty Octostomp is pretty terrifying, a big box with human-like legs and a freakishly simple face with pop-out segments, it feels huge and threatening, and then it jumps up to crush you. You have to be really fast to be able to really attack. And then... it controls electricity so it moves plates outside it, while you still can see the organic legs and tentacles... it's terrifying!
  • The Octonozzle looks rather silly, being a cylindrical machine covered in kelp and little holes which suckers emerge from, and it even has little mechanical legs. But those eyes are not so silly. They look like glowing green realistic octopus eyeballs with no irises, just gaping dark ellipses. The pupils contract vertically instead of from all sides for extra creepy. Then once it's defeated, its eyes bulge out and the pupils completely dilate before it explodes. It's quite unsettling.
  • The Octowhirl isn't so bad until it roars at you and charges at super-high speeds. Even though it's easy to dodge, if it hits you, it will hurt.
  • The Octomaw looks a bit more threatening at first as a giant robotic Zapfish... until it opens its mouth and sprouts enormous teeth taller than an Inkling. Once it fights, it sinks into the arena and charges towards you at high speed with tail fin sticking up and then sinks below the ink. Then suddenly the ground turns to ink and those giant teeth sprout from all around you, followed by Octomaw closing its jaw if you can't escape. The first time around, it is quite frightening to be mired in enemy ink while not knowing how to escape the impending death trap. Once you deal damage, it takes more hits to destroy a tooth, so you have to frantically shoot before the jaw closes...
  • The single player trailer has a shot of an octopus coming out of a lake in shadows, Nessie-style.
  • In multiplayer, defeating an Inkling causes them to explode in showers of ink, leaving behind only their clothes and weapons. The same can happen to the Octarians in single-player.
    • The Inklings' death cries can sound pretty unsettling, especially in gameplay videos with no music.
  • The Inkling's Nightmare Face during loadout. Between the dark-rimmed eyes and beak-like teeth in an open smile, they look adorably terrifying.
  • In the alleyway where Spyke sits, if you notice the Super Sea Snails he sits next to, on the left are completely empty shells, and on the right are three live snails, with two shivering in horror. Now what do sea urchins eat again?
    • It's also important to note that, next to Spyke, there is a screwdriver lying on the ground.
    • Confirmed when you get Super Sea Snails and go to him. He'll tell you that to add the slot to your gear, he uses the shell, which he has no use for, since he's only interested "on the gooey stuff inside".
  • The stage that introduces sponges has a section where you must get to another platform solely using sponges, with enemy troopers waiting to shrink them and no floor beneath you.
  • And then of course, this is all sort of overshadowed by the fact that the bright, vibrant setting is actually our world 12,000 years After the End. Sea levels rose to such an extent that nearly all land-dwelling animals, including humans, were slowly wiped out. Marine life eventually evolved to live on land, inhabiting and rebuilding atop our remaining infrastructure and establishing a new society of their own. Judd might be the only land mammal left in the world. The artbook takes this to another level, with the reveal that it wasn't just climate change that caused the rising sea levels, but a nuclear warhead that was launched during the fifth World War that impacted and melted a large chunk of Antarctica's ice sheet.
    • With all that in mind, the implications of this stage description for the Shellendorf Institute in Splatoon 2 become chilling. It makes one wonder if the melting of Antarctica was enough to make us stop fighting or not.
      Pearl: I went digging in my backyard earlier today, and I found some old bones!
      Marina: Human bones, huh? Yeah, those things are everywhere.
  • The squids may be cute and the kids may be cute, but the mid-transformation inklings, during the loadout at the start of a match, in the E3 2014 build are quite another matter... They look like creepy, bipedal squids with a bug-eyed look. In the final version of the game, their eyes leak their respective color ink as they shape shift from squid to humanoid.
    • On a similar note is an Inkling's development through life. When they are born, they start as a cute baby squid, but in-between that time and when they fully mature, they go through multiple stages of awkward mid-transformations that looks incredibly uncomfortable. And you thought your puberty was bad.
  • Inklings can't swim. They don't drown, they just flop around and dissolve. Thank goodness for respawn machines...
  • A very disturbing secret was found that occurs if you stand and wait before or after the boss battles. You'll hear... sounds. Unnerving sounds. Banging metal. Screaming. Screeching. Howling. The sound of a level crossing plays as train whistles blare until a crashing sound is heard. Almost as if there's... something outside of the domes. Something big.... Except this something isn't a monster hiding inside of the walls... Remember that the Octarians stole the Zapfish in order to preserve the power of their domes? Yeah. That's the sound of them falling apart around you.
    • Even better? According to this interview, even one of the directors of the game didn't know about them. (Then again, the interviewer phrased his question in a rather awkward way.)
  • Apparently, Octarians live in incredibly crummy living situations and their world is breaking apart more each day. And considering that the Inklings live in a clean, modern, and urban society, it kind of explains why the Octarians would hold a grudge against them.
  • Bluefin Depot during the nighttime, which is only seen during one of the Octo Valley missions as well as Splatfests. If you go near the broken bridge, you can hear a small creak coming from it, which gets louder as you get even closer to it. Not to mention the fact that the area around it is filled with abandoned condominiums, warehouses, and debris of the bridge in the water.

    Splatoon 2 

Splatoon 2 Main Game

  • The Salmon Run mode takes place on an island of junk surrounded by a cesspool of what is apparently polluted seawater. The big freakout comes from how your job is to fight off Salmon mooks to collect Power Eggs and Golden Power Eggs. The ravenous Salmonids swarm every now and then and try to raid Inkling cities.
    • Things get really creepy once the fog rolls in. When the Nintendo representatives played Salmon Run at E3 2017, a Stinger showed up in the distance appearing out of the water, which looked like a tentacle-like pillar in the fog, able to shoot Sting Ray beams at the Inklings while being much too far for the Inklings to reach.
    • Some of the other special waves (which all come with a special "nighttime" setting and a notably more menacing music theme) are arguably worse. In the Glowflies wave, fast-moving hordes of red-eyed Chums now aggressively swarm at one player a time. And then there's the Grillers, which move fast and relentlessly chase down their chosen target, instantly splatting anyone else they come in contact with along the way. Even better is Mr. Grizz's advice on dealing with being swarmed by Glowflies and being chased down by a Griller - "Good luck staying alive" for the Glowflies, and "RUN" for the Griller.
    • Certain branches of Inkling religion treat major migrations of Salmonids as a harbinger of the apocalypse. This is referenced in multiple places in Splatoon 2. And they're currently on the move enough for a company to be built around exploiting that fact.
    • That part about the Salmonids raiding Inkling cities? According to the lore, that's apparently been going on since at least the Inkling equivalent of the Feudal Age. And back then, the Inklings didn't have the ink-projectile technology they do today. Entire cities were consumed by the tide of fishy death. Modern Inkopolis and its surrounding Counties are areas that managed to survive this period.
    • From the Mothership to the Griller, it isn't uncommon to find teammates panicking on what to do as a griller or mothership is the end of your line and keeps you from properly delivering eggs to Mr. Grizz, who is already an ambiguous figure.
    • The song that plays during special waves, called "Fishing Frenzy", is terror in musical form. On top of the first few notes being a Scare Chord, it always acts as a musical cue that something bad is going to happen, including normal Chum going Ax-Crazy and swarming players, Grillers being the main enemies, or fog rolling in.
    • Ruins of Ark Polaris are the wrecked remains of a giant spacecraft. The fact that all the signs you see are in English, rather than any of the fictional languages found in the rest of the game, as well as the fact that it's called an ark, strongly hints that the humans knew of the rising sea levels (and not just the Professor) and desperately banded together to escape into space as a last resort. But then something really bad happened, and they didn't make it. Even worse, what caused the spaceship to crash is completely unknown. On top of that, the playable area is specifically the bear habitat, which no doubt has some ties to the fact that you work for someone named Mr. Grizz.
      • Unlike all the other Salmon Run stages which switch to night for special waves, Ruins of Ark Polaris is Always Night. So what does it do for special waves? All sources of light in the background, including the nearby city, switch off, leaving you stuck on this tower in the middle of near-total darkness.
    • If you're (un)lucky enough to enter a shift with a team averaging Profreshional 600 or higher, "Hazard Level MAX!!" will appear on the screen accompanied by ominous low-pitched "Psycho" Strings. Cue collective This Is Gonna Suck from players seeing and hearing this for the first time.
    • Unlike the other shopkeepers, Mr. Grizz doesn't appear in the game proper; instead, he communicates to you via a radio embedded in a bear statue. And apparently, his registered headquarters are completely empty. Just who or what is Mr. Grizz? And what does he want with the eggs that you poach for him? What sort of relationship does he have with Salmonids and Inklings that led to the sketchy business he runs? The sheer lack of information on him makes him one of the scariest characters in the game who isn't an outright enemy.
  • The later parts of the Squid Sisters Stories prologue for 2, if only because they operate on nitro-boosted Adult Fear that is terrifyingly realistic. The first bit is just a bit sad as two cousins slowly drift apart... and then Callie goes missing. The missed appointment. The casual assumption that nothing's wrong at first. The missed train after missed train. The phone calls. The lack of phone calls, or answering, from your loved one. The frantic reaching out on the trip home, trying to find anything, anyone, who might have seen her or can shed some light. The inevitable failure of that. The near-total lack of clues anywhere, including at home. The ever-rising sense of panic. It's all chillingly realistic, and as anyone who's had a loved one go missing can tell you, feels all too close to home. And then, of course, there's finding your loved one at last, only to discover they've changed drastically since you last saw them...
    • Octavio's escape feels a little bit like finding out that, at the same time your loved one went missing, the convict who once terrorized your family is out of prison. Now, granted, Splatoon isn't that dark and Octavio's worst crimes are grand larceny and terrible music puns (and the attempted murder of Agent 3), but the parallel is still there.
  • At the end of the Hero Mode trailer, there is a very unsettling laugh. Making matters worse, the art depicted during said timing of the laugh implies it's coming from Callie. It gets even worse when you listen to the female singing throughout the trailer again and realize that it sounds like Callie as well. The actual game hid Callie's vocals from songs inside the singleplayer stages by playing them backwards.
  • The endgame of Hero Mode reveals Callie's been brainwashed by the Octarians. A line DJ Octavio has really sells how truly horrific it is and the implications of what the Hypno-Shades do.
  • Where are Agent 3 and Cap'n Cuttlefish during all this? Marie says in the story mode that they were doing other things, but she didn't see either of them when finding that Octavio has broken out of the snowglobe...and if the Hero Gear we're given really is a hand-me-down from Agent 3...why don't they need it if they're in Octarian territory like it's implied? Thankfully mitigated as the first thing seen in the DLC proper is an alive and well Cap'n Cuttlefish and Agent 3's old gear is hand-me-down because they're in brand new gear, complete with a stylish cape.
  • Also, this piece of Mood Whiplash from the Chicken vs. Egg Splatfest:
    Pearl: Wait... Which side am I on?
    Both: HAHAHA!
  • According to the official artbook, the reason Pearl is so short is because she was electrocuted at some point and her growth was stunted.
  • The "Fresh Fish" costume, released as part of the Octoling wave of amiibo in November/December 2018. Immediately upon its reveal, this cartoonish fish mascot became infamous for its permanent blank and stiff smile — leading to it becoming something of a horror icon in the Splatoon community.
  • For the Final Splatfest, no matter which side you pick, you are siding with at least one of the series' villains. Picking Chaos means you align with the *ling-hungry Salmonids and DJ Octavio, who mind you, brainwashed Callie in this game's Octo Canyon campaign. Picking Order means you side with the Octarians and, most chillingly, Commander Tartar. You know, that psycho AI who wanted to destroy the entire planet AND force the Inklings and Octarians into extinction?
    • Its Final Fest bio establishes that Tartar, if it took control, wouldn't be interested in keeping free will. And what's more, the seemingly innocuous C.Q. Cumber appears to share these opinions.

Octo Expansion

  • Believe us, the Octo Expansion goes far, far, FAR DARKER places than the already established lore in both games. The sheer amount of Surprise Creepy and Fridge Horror is unlike anything else in the series, and it isn't afraid to showcase much scarier visuals (and more controversial subject matters) for better... or for worse.
  • We finally get to see the conditions the Octarians live in during the Octo Expansion Trailer. Run-down subway tunnels, dingy high-tech installations over huge abysses, and low light make it definitely seem like the Octarians live in the deep sea. It says something that the Octoling player character seems blown away by how bright and safe Inkopolis Square is by comparison. Of course, it turns out that the Deepsea Metro isn't where the Octarians live... but we do learn through Marina's dialogue and the Line B Mem-Cakes that represent Agent 8's time among the Octarians paint a picture of an oppressive and propaganda-filled society.
  • The Sanitized Octarians are brainwashed so thoroughly they have no sense of will or even personality.
    Everyone, meet Dedf1sh. Previously a promising, up and coming DJ, her pursuit of breakbeat perfection eventually led her to a subterranean test facility, where she was "sanitized." Though little of her former self remains, she continues crafting DJ delicacies, and the halls of the test facility echo with her bumping tracks to this very day.
    • What we've heard of her songs are pretty unnerving, too. The first two songs (the second starting at about 0:23) give off an eerie feeling.. makes ya think about what the Octo Expansion has in store, doesn't it?
    • It gets even worse. Marina cannot detect any vital signs upon scanning them. They're not just brainwashed, they're dead. Tartar's profile states that "The Sanitized Octarians are its creations, spawned from the biomass it has collected from the remains of its previous test subjects and refined into "the perfect life"." Sanitized Octarians are actual zombies brought back to life with the horrifying sludge of other liquefied test subjects. How long has Tartar been experimenting on and murdering those poor test subjects down there? Do we even want to know?!
  • During the tests, the ink tank Agent 8 wears has a funny little bag attached to it, right? What's it there for, extra ink? Well, yeah, it's definitely ink, but it isn't to help you. That bag of cyan ink is a fucking REMOTE CONTROLLED KILL DEVICE that is triggered by C.Q. Cumber whenever you fail a challenge in a way that wouldn't traditionally result in a splat. So yes, you have a goddamn bomb strapped to your back at all times. Even when there are no conditions that would trip it, you can still see the bag on your tank. Sweet dreams, cephalopod.
    • Even worse, the Equipper devices that give you your weapons throughout the expansion don't mess with your inkpack. According to the official Splatoon Twitter account, this ink tank is provided by the Kamabo Corporation and any extra details about it are confidential to the facility; meaning that you are not informed of the bomb's existence until it's too late.
    • If the condition that can trigger the inkpack's detonation is progressive (such as limited ink or a timer), it will change its visual appearance depending on how close you are to failing; the inkpack produces a subtle glow when your limited time or ink is beginning to run out, and starts pulsating wildly while sounding a rapid alarm when you've got so little time/ink left that you're almost bound to fail unless you somehow pass at the last second. Both of these occurrences - the latter in particular - highlight the inkpack's purpose and hint at what's going to happen before it actually happens. In short? Should you see the inkpack inflating, it may or may not be a good time to panic.
  • So, one might be wondering, why are you Number 10,008 anyway? It's because you're the ten-thousand-and-eighth creature to go through this entire "promised land" rigmarole. What became of the other 10,007, you wonder? Well, those that failed to collect the four thangs remain in the subway system, memories of their past forever wiped. That's more tearjerker territory, admittedly, but still a little horrifying. Meanwhile, those that did manage to collect them after being forcefully put through what basically accounts to Cold-Blooded Torture? The same thing that nearly happened to Agent 8 and Captain Cuttlefish — they were all crushed, blended, mixed and ground up, conscious and alive into a gruesome genetic sludge in an attempt to create a new sort of primordial soup made up of the most tenacious, intelligent specimens on the planet, and it's implied they were all made immortal after the blending process. That distinct green "ink" you run afoul of throughout the campaign that just seems kind of off in its coloration? That's not ink. That stuff used to be living creatures. It's all that's left of every test subject before you. YOU'VE BEEN GETTING COVERED IN A STEW OF LIQUEFIED CORPSES FOR THE ENTIRE EXPANSION!!!!
  • Overlapping with Tear Jerker: if you die during any phase of the final escape in Octo Expansion, Cap'n Cuttlefish, Pearl, or Marina will desperately shout for Agent 8 (in the same vein as Metal Gear Solid) before you respawn.
  • Speaking of the final escape, the first phase (The "Coccyx" Phase) is made of pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel with its paranoia-inducing stealth elements and Heartbeat Soundtrack, and you are absolutely powerless to defend yourself against the mountain of enemies you sneak by. The Scare Chord and the pulse-pounding beat that plays if you're noticed does not help you save yourself in the slightest.
  • The Big Bad of the Octo Expansion, Commander Tartar, is quite possibly a high contender for one of the ghastliest villains to ever exist in Nintendo's lineup of franchises to date - and that's saying a lot. It's a violent, racist, hatred-filled, and utterly psychopathic Artificial Intelligence that completely loathes the Inklings and Octarians beyond all reason due to them not being worthy enough successors to the long-extinct human race in its eyes. In the main story mode for both games, DJ Octavio just puts on concerts to destroy his enemies and brainwash others. In Octo Expansion, Tartar is revealed to have been single-handedly responsible for the unimaginably barbaric murders of all those innocent people, and attempts to commit multispecies genocide.
    Commander Tartar: I am TARTAR, an AI construct created 12,000 years ago by a brilliant professor. My prime directive is to pass humanity's vast knowledge on to the next worthy lifeform. When your kind became self-aware, I hoped that my long wait was finally over. But as I observed your evolution, I WAS DISGUSTED! You wage war over minor genetic deviations. You obsess over trivial fashion choices. And so I created a new prime directive: destroy this world and start anew! From the best and brightest test subjects, I created a sludge of supreme DNA. A primordial ooze from which the ultimate lifeform will emerge. Today is the day my vision becomes reality, as I destroy Inkopolis and everyone in it!

Alternative Title(s): Splatoon 2


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