Remember, all of these amazing headers are created by Nirbion. So give him a shout-out!
Recently, I asked the Smash community on reddit to submit proof of these claims as I believe this image was unwarranted because Sakurai’s statements have been taken out of context, or because of mistranslations. However, I was open to the idea that perhaps Sakurai is a liar and looked at the proof submitted to me, objectively.
I hope this article will serve as a reference for the community. If I forgot something please leave a comment below and I will update this article.
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Special thanks to: /u/biggest_dreamer,/u/peppermint1201, /u/Ddiaboloer, /u/Masterofknees, /u/RCX42, /u/beltbuckle_at_work, /u/cmbsfm, JohnKnight11, SuperSmashBala, MrThatKidAlex24, Cart Boy, MidnightMuddy, Megmar and anyone else who I may have forgotten for their contributions.
Special shout out to: Soma, MaskedMan, Nocturnal_YL and SutaMen for helping out with translations. Also, thanks to Spazzy for his help with proof reading.
Is Masahiro Sakurai a liar?
No, he isn’t. (TL;DR below)
The reason that Sakurai has a reputation of lying or trolling is because fans often misunderstand what exactly Sakurai is saying. This can be the result of several issues. Often it’s because of mistranslations, or quotes taken out of context.
But a lot of times it’s because fans project their expectations onto Sakurai. When Sakurai said, “some bosses may appear” and showed Ridley’s shadow…he wasn’t saying that Ridley was going to be a playable character. He was telling people that Ridley was a boss character, no questions asked. This is why Wolf is not going to return, as Sakurai has stated numerous times that DLC is finished.
Sakurai is one of few developers to have a truly deep relationship with his fans. He’s written nearly 500 Famitsu Columns (Source Gaming has translated only a handful of them), given dozens of interviews, and even produced weekly/ daily updates for Melee, Brawl and Smash for Wii U! For Smash 64, he not only created an online resource that teaches players advanced techniques, but he also answered fan questions after the game’s release.
The amount of untranslated content from Sakurai is astounding. In my opinion, Sakurai’s writing is something that this fan base takes for granted. We don’t have many active developers promote their game as much as Sakurai does. Because of his active nature, he has developed a strong reputation in the community. Some people love him, some people hate him. But, in my opinion, you need to respect him. Part of that respect is to not put words into his mouth and to check the sources.
The only definitive time he’s ever ‘lied’ (that we’ve been able to uncover) was when he stated Zero Suit Samus was cut in the April 2014 Smash Bros. Direct. However, that “lie” lasted only a few seconds, and he didn’t even finish his sentence in Japanese.
The first example I could find is a lesser known one where he seemingly deconfirmed Luigi for Melee. Also, you could count the misdirection in the April Direct when the Psuedo Palutena trophy was revealed, but that was more a case of ‘playing with expectations’ than a fake out. The last instance that we could think of was the MetaKnight “reveal” with the Mii costume being shown as a “Picture of the Day” prior to his proper reveal. In any case, I’ve included them in this article.
4 Fake Outs
12 Claims and Counterpoints
2 Straight up Misinformation
List of lies:
+ZSS isn’t in Smash for Wii U/3DS Fake Out:
Stating that Zero-Suit Samus wasn’t in Smash for Wii U/3DS, and then moments later admitting he was lying.
+Luigi didn’t get an invitation for Melee
When Luigi was revealed Sakurai stated,
I never said “Luigi won’t appear,” not even once.
Rather than simply announcing Luigi as a starting member, we thought it would be fun for everyone to spend the pre-release this way.
More than that, I wanted him to be hidden at the beginning. —News Flash!! Super Smash Bros.: Luigi
+Pseudo-Palutena fake out
Already discussed above.
+”Ness was in Smash up until now”
This quote comes from the Brawl site – Not a mistranslation, but it’s not intended to sound so “definitive” (Japanese link). It just means that Ness was in all the previous Smash games up to that point. It was not a direct confirmation that Ness was or wasn’t going to be in Brawl.
There is one debatable instance of Sakurai lying.
This somewhat contradicts his statement in My First Conception is My Landmark
Since I am creating the new Smash Bros. in cooperation with Bandai-Namco Games, it makes sense to include one of their characters, and Pac-Man is perhaps Namco’s most iconic character, so Pac-Man should join the fray.
It’s a pretty logical train of thought for anyone who has been playing games for many years. However, simply thinking about including a character in the game and the act of actually crafting the character and making them work are two entirely different things. It’s quite difficult for me because most players only think about whether a character is in the game and fail to consider the difficulties of bringing that character to life. — My First Conception is my Landmark
In that IGN interview he does state:
“Just like with Mega Man or any other third-party character, it would
have to be a very special situation.”
It should be noted that Pac-Man does follow this criteria, and it was likely the main reason Sakurai chose him. However, while he did later claim that he considered Heihachi from Tekken, he also did not consider him – or any other Bandai-Namco character aside from Pac-Man to be a strong candidate (as far as we know at this time).
Claims and Counterpoints:
Please note that I already did research on some statements in the past in Sakurai Didn’t Say That!
–“No More DLC”
This quote was taken out of context. Sakurai said that he and his team were not working on DLC at the time of the interview (November 19th), which for all we know, is true.
–“ATs in All-Star Mode”
This is a mistranslation by Nintendo.
–“Ice Climbers not a priority because of series future”
Mistranslation. Ice Climbers didn’t make it because of hardware limitations on the 3DS and a desire to keep both versions of the game the same. The combination of the two quotes originally came from Nintendo Everything who translated a summary of the Famitsu Column. If you are interested in the full column,Click here for the Source Gaming translation.
-”No plans for balance patches”
Keyword: plans. Plans change.
-”Villager/Pac-Man/Mii’s unsuited for fighting”
Sakurai changed his approach to designing characters between Brawl and Smash for Wii U/3DS. For more information on how characters are designed, check out Character Design 101 In particular, “Are the Characters Dancing?” is highly relevant to this section.
The original quote:
To tell you the truth, there was even a point where in the planning stages of the previous game, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl,” I removed the unsuited-for-fighting protagonist of Animal Crossing from consideration. (Note, The Villager was also referenced in the Iwata Asks for Brawl)
if I think I can do it then I can envision a concrete embodiment of the character, but if I cannot do that the character cannot be made.”
Between Brawl and Smash for Wii U/3DS, he was able to successfully envision Villager as a playable fighter:
…Villager and Wii Fit Trainer were not selected solely because they can show off their eccentricity. They each have their own individual fighting styles and strategies, and make the game more fun.
Miis: Sakurai stated:
The inclusion of Miis was considered for the previous game, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl,” but after thinking about it for about 1 minute, I dismissed that idea immediately.” — Everyone Joins the Battle! Anyone Can Join the Fray!
He was concerned about online bullying, felt they weren’t suited towards fighting, and thought they would be boring because they lack character. But in the years since Brawl, Miis became much more popular and iconic, and more than that, with Miis, “anyone can join.” For more detail, check out “Everyone Joins the Battle! Anyone Can Join the Fray!”
Pac-Man: Similiar situation to the Villager and Miis. Sakurai changed his approach, and made Pac-Man work.
For all of these cases, Sakurai thought it was the truth at the time. There is nothing wrong with changing opinions based on new information, or a new approach. That’s not “flip-flopping,” it’s called growing.
–”Roster in Smash for Wii U/3DS will be less than 50 otherwise it would cause issues with balance”
This interview with Nintendo Power (Page 22, June 2012 Issue #279) comes from the pre-development period of Smash for Wii U/3DS when Sakurai wasn’t even working on Smash for Wii U/3DS. The base roster, before DLC or simple clones, actually reflected his original ideology. You could argue that Sakurai meant 50, as in a figurative number. And that he meant to show that just raising the character count without other changes isn’t good for Smash.
–“We believe that Samus is the best character in Super Smash Brothers for Wii U and 3DS”
This was in reference to the E3 invitational build (video link to the quote). This is probably his sincere opinion at the time, so it’s not a lie. On top of that, Sakurai states that he’s still balancing, so things would have changed since then.
–”Several more DLC will come”
Source Gaming translated this quote, and then proceeded to break down the meaning of it. The original Japanese is very ambiguous and we did our best to keep that meaning. If you look at our breakdown of the meaning, this is exactly what happened.
–”No paid Smash DLC”
Sakurai said at that time he wasn’t working on any, which is probably true. Even in the Final Smash Broadcast, Sakurai has always maintained that DLC only started production after the base game was finished.
–“DLC will be fanservice”
Source Gaming translated this quote. “Fanservice” is very ambiguous and can mean different things to different people. However, one thing that Sakurai has constantly maintained is that DLC was created after the main game was finished. Therefore, nothing that was “held back” made its’ way into DLC, a concept which Sakurai would probably see as fanservice. Plus, Sakurai could see the absurd amount of content in the game as pure fanservice in itself.
–“No Guns, but Bayonetta
The “no guns” quote actually became popular after I included it in my Definitive Unused Fighter List when discussing James Bond. Even in that article it states, “Can’t have realistic guns in the game.” It’s likely that Bayonetta was able to get a pass from the ESRB because her weapons are exaggerated. However, the rating for DLC might actually increase in some regions, so we will have to wait until she released. Sakurai has also gotten a lot better at handling rating boards. Except for that time Palutena almost delayed the game in Japan.
–”New modes in DLC”
Source Gaming originally translated this statement. Tourney Mode and Share Mode are the new modes that became available after that translation debuted.
–”Last Smash Game”
Sakurai has claimed this numerous times. I believe he states this because he approaches every entry like it will be his last game. It’s worth noting that even after he left Hal Laboratory he said he wasn’t sure if he was going to come back to Smash.
“When I made the second one, I thought, there’s no chance there’s going to be a third one, but I did make a third one. So I do think there is a possibility for a fourth. But I think actually making it would be very difficult.” –GSL on Brawl (Translation in the works for Source Gaming. Stay tune for the full text. Translation done by Soma.)
He has said this even in regards to Smash for Wii U/ 3DS. If you read past the headline, then you will actually discover that he said, “I doubt” (でしょう) (Column #482 for reference, Source Gaming has not translated it yet) in regards to continuing making games in the series.
Regardless, most recently in his Fire Emblem 25 Anniversary Interview, Sakurai has since seemed optimistic about his future involvement with Smash.
Sometimes, fans are projecting things that they want/ think onto Sakurai. Then, after it doesn’t come true they state that Sakurai “trolled” or “lied” to them. If you go in with a clear mind, you can see that Sakurai did not mislead, instead fans only misunderstood.
–Characters in Melee’s opening movie aren’t playable characters, so Sakurai ‘trolled’:
Sakurai confirmed this on the official Melee website, only in Japanese. As far as I’m aware, it was never translated before today (thanks Soma!). Furthermore, nothing from official materials suggested that all characters were going to be playable.
–Greninja without any webbing:
If you look in the second picture, you can see Greninja’s tongue and you also notice that he is hanging upside down. I don’t think the webbing was removed in order to troll people into thinking it was Mewtwo. A shuriken of water was shot out at Charizard and Mario in the video (direct time) which further removes this as an instance of trolling and makes it more a case of fans projecting their wishes onto Sakurai’s work.
-Wolf is coming back!
I already explained this, guys…come on.
Straight up made up information:
–“We wanted Brawl to be more air combo heavy”
Not sure where this came from. The closest thing Soma and I could think of was his comments on Brawl, that Soma translated. Here’s what we think this misquote might be referencing:
“Also, one of the things I felt when reflecting on Melee was that while a higher speed game is definitely exhilarating and fun, it makes the gap between beginners and higher level players too large, and you can’t really enjoy carefree, leisurely aerial battles.” I Answer Some Questions
–”No more clones” According to several threads on this topic, this is something that Sakurai has never said. In none of the Brawl interviews that Source Gaming has yet to translate was I able to find this. It is possible that eventually a source could turn up, but we will have to consider this misinformation since one has not been made available. According to Kinnian, it was made up by a user on Gamefaqs, and accepted as truth despite it lacking sources. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen and is the reason why you should always, always ask for a source.
These are all of the purported lies, including the submissions by the community, that we could think of. If we missed something, please leave a comment below or send me a DM on Twitter.
This kind of work is not easy and takes an incredible amount of time and effort. If you enjoy this kind of research, please consider donating to Source Gaming’s patreon. We’ve increased the reward payout, and made our goals clearer. Please check it out!