Nintendo opened the floodgates for potential level editors with the release of Super Mario Maker on Wii U, though it hasn’t really tapped into that idea beyond a Switch sequel in 2019. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening remake included a basic dungeon editor, but this was mostly in service of extra objectives rather than creating a community resource. Plenty more Nintendo franchises could support level editors akin to Super Mario Maker, but Splatoon 3‘s story mode offers a strong case for Inklings to get their own custom creation platform.

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Return of the Mammalians is a big step up from its predecessors, Splatoon‘s Octo Valley and Splatoon 2‘s Octo Canyon. Those story modes set players on a journey to rescue the Great Zapfish from DJ Octavio, typically by completing platforming stages designed to teach how each weapon type works. Splatoon 3‘s story begins similarly before the tutorial area is revealed to be subterfuge, opening into a more mission-based system around the land of Alterna that’s comparable to Splatoon 2‘s Octo Expansion DLC. These diverse tasks and Splatoon‘s abstract mission layouts are perfect for iteration, and opening things up to players would add a lot of creativity.

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How Splatoon 3 Level Elements Could be Edited Together

Every level in Return of the Mammalians is built around specific weapons or special techniques (though many offer more challenging weapon variants). However, the diversity on offer with each stage’s goal is vastly expanded beyond the typical run-and-gun enemy gauntlets or stage gimmick showcase; from popping balloons on rails to crossing gaps with soaker blocks that expand when inked. For example, one mission creates a giant robot to climb using switches and moving blocks.

Sometimes players will be asked to draw patterns with their Inkbrush, destroy crates to match a whale sculpture, fully coat a Moai statue using a paint bucket, and more. Very few of these missions use wholly unique assets; Splatoon 3 gets a lot of mileage out of clever block and enemy placement, seeing how each weapon can interact with stage hazards like conveyor belts or Octozeppelins. Each stage in Return of the Mammalians is set in an abstract space except the final Wily’s Castle-style gauntlet, so puzzle elements are free-floating among upside-down cityscapes or broken computer graphics.

The Alterna Logs unlocked by completing each region reveal these environments to be the fragmented memories of a long-dead humanity brought to life through unique crystal domes built underground. With that in mind, a Super Mario Maker-style level editor or spin-off game could present fans the opportunity to create their own Alterna domes. After picking a background and whether the stage is set over water, there could be four overall categories of objects to place: Platforms, Transit/Level Mechanics, Octarians, and Decorations. Opening up even a handful of selectable completion requirements and weapon types would add myriad permutations.

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Splatoon 3 is Already a Social Platform

One of the big issues with Splatoon story content is how relatively disconnected it is from the core multiplayer shooter. Objects like sponges and Inkrails occasionally appear on multiplayer maps, but others like the soaker blocks, platform-moving propellors, and Inkfurlers are only in single-player missions. Adding a custom level editor for users to make their own domes and share creations online would give all of Splatoon 3‘s mechanics a greater spotlight.

Splatoon as a franchise is also more social than other Nintendo mainstays like The Legend of Zelda or Metroid. The Wii U heavily incorporated Miiverse posts, which have carried on as an internal mechanic in the absence of this social media platform. Players can like one another’s posts, purchase outfit pieces found in the plaza, build out lockers as part of the multiplayer lobby, and more. A custom level editor where players could share their creations with fellow Splatoon fans would undoubtedly be a big hit, and the abstract way story missions are designed would justify simple drag-and-drop constructions.

If Nintendo wanted to go the extra mile, it could even let players construct their own island with Kettles that lead to multiple levels akin to Super Mario Maker 2 adding a World Maker mode. The large Splatoon fanbase has gotten a lot of auxiliary content over the years, including multiple concerts starring hologram idols, so a proverbial “Splatoon Maker” seems ripe to explore.

Splatoon 3 is available now on Nintendo Switch.

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