Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs and link to this translation. For additional information, please read this post. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai. The following is a selection from Famitsu. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books. If you have any questions about this article, please contact the administrator.
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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.