“You’re a kid now! You’re a squid now!” Seriously, who would’ve guessed a kid-friendly, team-based shooter like Splatoon would’ve become a smash-hit success for Nintendo? Not only did the innovative gameplay – blasting globs of ink in kid-form with various weapons, then swimming through it at high-speed as a squid – captivate countless players, but it was the world of Splatoon that really helped make the title shine as well.
Easily the most iconic characters of the game were the Squid Sisters, made up of the peppy Callie and mellowed Marie. The pop star duo not only won over fans across the globe with their distinctive personalities and memorable dialogue exchanges, but also with their music, which cropped up during both the single and multiplayer modes of the game. Their catchy rhythms and cherry-sounding synths blended perfectly with their nonsensical lyrics (Inklings don’t speak English, after all) – just the kind of thing to get you pumped up for the next battle.
In fact, Nintendo’s new IP became such a global phenomenon in the gaming world, they even organized live performances with the beloved Squid Sisters singing and dancing as virtual idols to some of their hit numbers. In 2016, a live album – featuring tracks from two concerts held in Makuhari – was released. While it’s unfortunate that it was never globally released, it’s still an absolutely fantastic listen.
Fan-favourites like the hype-inducing ‘Ink Me Up’ and the chilled, melodic ‘Maritime Memory’ all make the cut, along with notably lengthier versions of ‘Now or Never!’ in their Splatfest form. All of the tracks were really brought to life by the live backing band. Don’t get me wrong, the original tunes from in-game are a blast to listen to, but hearing the synths blaring out loud along with the funky twanging of the bass, the hard-hitting rhythm of the drums, and the occasional shredding of the guitar adds so much more depth and flavour. Paired up with the smooth, sweet vocals of Callie and Marie, they’re so much more hard-hitting and in-your-face, yet in the best way possible.
The second concert even featured a solo performance by each idol. Originally, these tunes could only be listened to in-game with a Callie or Marie amiibo, respectively. Here, extended versions of each are played in the 2nd concert. The bouncy rhythm to ‘Bomb Rush Blush’ is complemented by the live drums, while the harmonizing blend of the bass and Marie’s vocals echoing into the crowd during ‘Tide Goes Out’ is bound to give you chills.
The peppy tunes from both concerts are here, and are labelled as such. Tracks from the first concert are slightly longer, while the ones from the second are shorter, but feature two tracks exclusively performed during it. Otherwise, the differences between the two aren’t too easily noticeable, save for the guitars solos in each. They aren’t carbon-copies of one other, which is a good thing. Props to the mixing on it as well, as the vocals harmonize with the instruments without one being too loud than the other.
Alongside the brilliant recordings of the live performances are some of the original tracks taken from in-game, not to mention the two previously-unreleased solo tracks. An irritating quirk is the fact that some of the non-live songs have a few seconds of their endings chopped off and slapped in front of the next track, so as to flow smoothly when the album is played in chronological order. Problem is, that just messes up things if you were to listen to it on shuffle. At least it doesn’t drag the product down on the whole.
Alongside numerous SFX of the Squid Sisters are a few bonus tracks, including a stripped-down demo of ‘City of Color’, as well as two remixes of ‘Splattack!’, the signature song from Splatoon. These tunes were used as part of the game’s update videos. ‘Splattack! + Shelfie (Inkredible New Stages and Gear)’ is a short but sweet medley of a few tracks, while the ‘New Stage Squid Dance’ sounds a bit like a combination of the original along with the ‘Jam Session’ version (the one you hear during weapon training), albeit with infectious clapping and excited exclamations of “Squid Dance!”
Splatoon Live in Makuhari is packed full of brilliant adaptations of some of the series’ best tunes. While the inclusion of songs from both concerts, alongside the incomprehensible dialogue exchanges, does bloat it up in size, the performances perfectly capture the energy of the original tracks while adding plenty of twists to keep them fresh. Plus, the bonus tracks are a very nice addition to top off the package. Any fans of the series should consider this de rigueur to give this a listen.