“Don’t Need This, Don’t Need That” – Sakurai’s Famitsu Column, Vol. 485


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Hey there! Masked Man here, bringing you a translation of Sakurai’s latest Famitsu article. In it, he expresses frustration over those complaining about extra content in games, citing Fire Emblem Fates and his own Smash Bros. as examples. Enjoy!

Famitsu, Vol. 485
“Don’t Need This, Don’t Need That”

Many years ago, a certain game review organization awarded unnaturally high marks to a thoroughly unremarkable and uninterestingly simple puzzle game. It was the epitome of the demerit system: in other words, because the game had no extraneous features warranting demerits, it ended up earning a high score.

One could hardly call this the proper way to review a game. Suppose a convenience store stopped selling all beverages other than water. Even if we don’t like everything they have for sale, I think we’d all like to see some variety.

I recently took a look at user reviews for Fire Emblem Fates, and what stood out to me was the overabundance of comments saying “I don’t need this; I don’t need that, either,” especially in comparison to reviews of other titles.

One such feature users commented on was the ability to invite your companions into your house and stroke their heads and faces to raise your affinity level. Basically, you bring them into your room—regardless of whether you’re married or not—and give them a rubdown. Even I chuckled to myself the first time I played: “What is this, Pokémon? Nintendogs!?” Some reviewers, however, went one step further and said, “We don’t need this!”

I’m not a big fan of dating sims myself, so I can’t say I don’t understand their disinterest to a certain extent. At the same time, however, the feature in question doesn’t have any impact on one’s ability to complete the game, so if it bothers you so much, then don’t use that feature.

Say you buy a boxed lunch and it happens to contain a variety of foods, including one you hate. Even if you love everything else about the meal, are you going to single out the one food you dislike and lambast the entire meal for it? What about the people who happen to love that food? Is a meal only worth it insofar as it caters to your each and every preference?

Developers include all sorts of bonus features simply because they want to provide a little something extra for the fans. Even if one were to remove these bonus features from the game, it doesn’t mean that would “make room” for something else. That isn’t how it works.

If you approach game development with a demerit-based mindset, it doesn’t leave much room for anything extra, and games become pretty dry—and that’s just no fun.

Even Smash Bros. is one big ball of bonus features, jam packed with unnecessary content. “I don’t need this; I don’t need that, either,” some may say. To take an extreme point of view, everything aside from Free-for-All Mode is technically “unnecessary”: all the items, all the Final Smashes, all the stages aside from Final Destination. But if you were to take all of those extra features away, all you would be left with is a bare-bones, niche-market game.

I think there are some people who actually want that sort of game. There’s something appealing about a minimalist approach. But I think it’s painfully obvious Smash Bros. is not being marketed toward that niche market. I’ve intended to create a fun and exciting party game—the exact opposite. I mean, parties themselves are “unnecessary” to begin with. That said, there’s plenty of value in a game jam-packed with extra content.

And while some people demand the removal of various “unnecessary” features, there are also plenty of others who feel the exact opposite about the same content. I think it’s perfectly fine for a game to include a variety of content, even if some of those features appeal to others more than yourself.

The bonus features used to plump up a game are admittedly not designed with all users in mind. People are going to play the way they find the most enjoyable, and some users find more enjoyment in certain features than other people do. At the same time, games are a form of entertainment, so I sincerely hope people realize that “user abstinence”—not using unwanted content—is also a valid option.

From a developer’s point of view, I suppose it’s better not to force users to play these extra features in order to beat a game. Making users play a bunch of minigames only invites unwanted criticism, and I think that makes sense.

However, so long as that bonus content isn’t integral to completing a game, I think developers should be free to create what they like. After all, even if you don’t use a certain feature, someone else out there might absolutely love it.

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    1. I’m kind of fascinated by Sakurai’s apparent foodie side. It may be entirely coincidental, but his games do seem to emphasize food and eating a lot more than the norm.

    2. Actually it is a good example : should your parents love eating a dish you hate so you will contact the restaurant to stop making that dish ?!

      Of course not you won’t, you will just not eat it.
      That’s the same here with those features, you don’t like ? Don’t touch them, PERIOD!

    1. I wouldn’t say he’s an apologist, but I think he disagrees with those who complain about optional features bearing no effect on the main game. Also, for what it’s worth, even though he isn’t crazy about the FE Amie feature from a gameplay perspective, he really admires the “Live 2D” technology used to animate it.

  1. He’s acting salty because everyone shit all over the “extra content” in Smash4, like Angry Birds mode, failing to comprehend a crucial point:

    The time he spent adding those terrible garbage modes NOBODY wanted, could have been spent on just MAKING THE GAME BETTER instead. Like yeah, great, thanks Sakurai, I really love how Smash4 is bloated with all these extraneous modes we as a community will never ever use.

    And maybe people would be less angry, even a little, if so many of those extra modes weren’t handled terribly.

    Why play Crazy Orders and use finite tickets, when Master Orders gives all the same rewards and is low-risk?

    Why call it “Classic” Mode when it isn’t Classic in any definition of the word? I don’t want to fight 8 players at once. I want Adventure Mode back. I want an actual Classic Mode that plays like Melee and N64’s did. I want Break the Targets. I want SOMETHING.

  2. On the one hand, sure. It’s not healthy to get hung up over every little thing.

    …But on another hand that argument has always been very wishy-washy.
    When you talk about reviews amateur or professional you can’t just ignore these things if they are affecting your experience. You say ignore the stuff that bugs you. Fine. But what if you can’t. Instead of just “don’t need this” it’s “this was changed [or “fixed”]!”, “this is so boring!” “what was the point of Smash Tour?!” (Oops. How did that get in there… o_o)
    Little things on their own sure. But they do add up. Enough little “quirks” and they turn into full-blown issues and ignoring them is just making excuses and sends a bad message. I think honesty is key. Otherwise you’re just promoting peer pressure (or fanboyism, whatever you want to call it).
    tl,dr; Moaning for the sake of it = bad. Criticism = important to have, don’t be afraid of it

    On a personal and somewhat relevant note I have long taken that “advice” in regards to Smash Wii U. What I described happened to me pretty much. I’m a single player guy and Wii U’s single player content is awful compared to Brawl’s, the stuff on offer isn’t fun to me (despite trying to find it) and the kind of chaos surrounding the development of the game leaves little uncertain for the future because all the changes present in the game has pretty much left me behind. It doesn’t even feel like Smash to me anymore, it lost a bit of it’s heart somewhere along the road and I’m not sure it’s a path I care to follow.

    Anyway that’s just me. :p

  3. Late to the comment, but I must say…
    This will have to be one of the few times I strongly disagree with Sakurai.
    Going with the lunch box concept,
    lets say it’s a lunch box with sardines (The petting, and making your units wear swimsuits.)
    a burger (character A)
    fries (character B)
    a milkshake (character C)
    and a water (character D)

    The main problem with the game is not quite that there is sardines,
    but rather the juices of the sardines were spilled over everything else in the lunchbox.
    No matter how dangerous and violent, or timid and reclusive, or formal and serious, or down to earth and practical the character,
    they’ll let you pet them and send them off to battle in a swimsuit.

    Considering that I don’t like sardines, the whole lunch is pretty much tainted in a distasteful way for me.
    Even if someone does like the sardines and thinks it might even complement with some things, I doubt they will agree it mixes well with everything.

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