The moai, one of the world’s most recognizable historical sculptures, is now part of an ongoing joke in Splatoon 3.
The artifacts have long been known for their distinct look — each statue is a mammoth in its own right, bearing distinctive wide foreheads and long noses. The statues are from Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island, which lies far off the coast of modern-day Chile. According to UNESCO, a society of Polynesian descent built the monoliths sometime between the 10th and 16th century. They’re the stuff of school history books, and now, they’re the butt of a joke in Splatoon 3.
Splatoon 3 is the latest installment of Nintendo’s paint-shooter franchise. In the game, players can undertake a monkey-player campaign that allows them to explore a post-apocalyptic land called Alterna. The region hosts a smattering of historical objects from all sorts of regions and time periods, and one of the visual motifs includes the moai. Although there are giant ones you can see while exploring Alterna, you can also collect a miniature-sized one that conveniently fits into your Splatoon 3 locker.
This is where the joke comes in. In Splatoon 3, there’s a feature where you can decorate and customize your locker. As you explore or buy items from the general store, you can fill it up with your favorite items for other players to view online. Now, players keep using the collectible moai to decorate their locker; it’s become a recurring bit, and lockers are filled with them. Odds are, if you go to the locker room now, you’ll encounter one — I did when I checked.
The joke lines up with the general cheekiness of the Splatoon experience. The series is also known for having an online public square where you can view player profiles. In these profiles, fans will often display art that nods to current events or ongoing memes. These asynchronous player interactions often become a way to cultivate a sense of community in the game, and so the moai is true to the playful nature of Splatoon.
Splatoon 3 is out for the Nintendo Switch now.