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In ‘Splatoon 3,’ gamers ‘memorialize’ Queen Elizabeth II with memes

The late queen was reportedly a big fan of the Nintendo Wii

(Washington Post illustration; Frank Augstein/AP; Nintendo)

Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, died Thursday. During her nearly 71-year reign, the late queen presided over a postwar U.K. as it decolonized its territories abroad, was engulfed in a decades-long violent conflict in Northern Ireland known as “the Troubles” and eventually departed the European Union. Since the queen’s passing, tributes and criticism have poured in from all over — including Nintendo’s new video game, “Splatoon 3.”

“Splatoon 3,” the latest title in Nintendo’s family-friendly shooter series Splatoon, was released Sept. 9, just a day after the queen’s death. The game features a hub city called Splatsville where players can indirectly communicate with each other by painting graffiti on the walls, or by drawing illustrations for pop-up text boxes above their characters. And upon the game’s release, the digital city was flooded with memes and references to the queen.

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Gaming content creator Ultima logged into “Splatoon 3” and was greeted by a graffitied wall reading “The Queen is Dead.” Kotaku editor in chief Patricia Hernandez saw players with text boxes declaring “RIP Queen Elizabeth U Would Have Loved Splatoon 3,” “The Queen died so that we could have Splatoon 3” and “Queen is Temporary, Splatoon is Forever.”

Another Splatoon player was spotted with a text box that read “first Nintendo game the queen doesn’t see.” Elizabeth II was reportedly a big Nintendo fan, according to The Daily Mirror. The queen received a Nintendo Wii in 2008 as a gift from Catherine, Princess of Wales (then Kate Middleton) after Catherine observed the queen delightfully playing Prince William’s Wii. Game publisher THQ even attempted to court the queen’s favor by sending a gold-plated Wii to Buckingham Palace as part of a marketing campaign.

In Japan, “Splatoon 3″ has sold over 3.45 million copies in three days, putting it on track to be one of the best-selling games on the Nintendo Switch. “Splatoon 3′s” launch numbers have already soared past other big Switch releases such as “Animal Crossing: New Horizons" and “Pokémon Legends: Arceus.”

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Nintendo may be the only major video game corporation that is older than the queen. It was founded in 1889 as a producer of traditional Japanese playing cards called hanafuda (Pokémon would come much later). By the time Nintendo entered the video game industry in 1973, Elizabeth II was already in her late 40s.

Nintendo announced Monday it would not be airing a planned Nintendo Direct (the company’s in-house update and news broadcast) that day, out of respect for the queen. Instead, the event will be uploaded onto Nintendo’s YouTube channel on Sept. 13, 11 a.m. Eastern.