Sakurai x Nomura: Creator Interview 2016 [Part One]

Sakura X NOmura oart 1

This is part one of the Sakurai x Nomura Creator Interview that was just released an hour ago. The rest of the interview will come later today. Scans were provided by Japanese Nintendo, so please check them out.

Soma was the translation lead. SutaMen and PushDustIn provided assistance.

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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 interview may not accurately reflect Nomura and Sakurai. It’s only for fan use.

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[TN] indicates a translation note.

The story and challenges behind Cloud’s appearance in Smash.

Interviewer: Today’s conversation came out of the fact that plans for Cloud to appear in Smash for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U were actually realized, but did you two have any sort of acquaintance prior to this?

Sakurai: Actually, we didn’t. We’d had a couple of situations where we just missed each other, but we only got to talk to each other face to face because of Smash. But honestly, I was surprised that Mr. Nomura agreed to talk to me (laughs).

Nomura: I was glad to, of course.

Sakurai: Well, I was sure you’d be busy, and I thought you wouldn’t have the time to discuss it with me.

Nomura: It was an opportunity for Cloud to appear in Smash, how could I turn it down?

Sakurai: This isn’t an exact number, but among the requests for a Final Fantasy character to appear in Smash, around ¼ to ⅓ of the requests we got from fans were for Cloud. [TN1] I really wanted to answer the desires of those fans, and even though I thought it would be impossible, I reached out anyway, just to try.

Nomura: When we first talked, I asked “are you sure you’re okay with Cloud?” He’s not a character from a new game, after all.

Sakurai: But on the other hand, if you think about who to add from Final Fantasy, it’s hard to come up with a choice that’s not Cloud. We could have used Terra or Bartz, protagonists in their own right, but I feel like there would be some people who wouldn’t know who those characters are.

Nomura: There are characters like Strago too.

Sakurai: Characters like Fusuya might be good as well.

Nomura: The fact that you focus on characters like that is…(laughs)

Sakurai: But I’ve actually only talked to Mr. Nomura just once, that first time. After that, I was generally free to do whatever I wanted. There was general editorial supervision going on, of course, especially on the graphics side–to get Cloud looking as right as possible was tough. It took some time for us to discover how to present Cloud with a Smash touch.

Nomura: Actually, if you look carefully at Cloud’s clothing, you’ll see it’s not the original version, but a version that comes from the PSP game Dissidia: Final Fantasy.

Sakurai: But that’s not something you’d know at first glance, I think. To be specific, the design of the belt is different. For us, we bought a figurine of Cloud, one that anyone could buy, and compared it, taking notes, like “huh, the original design is different right here,” and so on.

Nomura: Cloud has some very subtle changes.

Sakurai: But if we just used the character model from Dissidia, it looks really out of place in Smash. Because his build is much slimmer in Dissidia.

Nomura: But if you use FFVII Cloud, well, his face is smoother, or, well, he’s very obviously made of polygons, so.

Sakurai: Taking a character like that and trying to make him while preserving the balance between his design and how to make him fit in Smash was quite the task.

Interviewer: Did you do anything in particular to his ability or strength?

Sakurai: In terms of those parameters, I figured a large variety of people would try to use him, so I made him relatively easy to play. However, what was a struggle for us from the planning stages was how to establish Cloud’s image. He becomes a character that’s “fast, but has good reach, and is also very strong.” But such a character is, in one word, invincible, right?

Nomura: That’s very true (laughs).

Sakurai: He has a big sword, so let’s make him swing big…that’s not enough. So, using the consecutives strikes that you see in his side smash as the lynchpin to his design, we made his sword swings fast, but with enough lag so that he has periods of vulnerability, and attempted to balance him that way.

Nomura: Creating the movements are the really difficult parts of making an action game. If you just focus on “smoothness” then you end up with movements that have no spice to them, and feel kind of limp, which obviously isn’t okay. On that point, I thought that Cloud in Smash felt like he was well adjusted to the game, and he moved sharply as well, which I thought was very well done.

Sakurai: He might seem fast, but there are parts of him that actually aren’t, and he isn’t very good in the air. Adjusting things like that is how we balanced him.

Nomura: The balance between his realistic movements, and then when he becomes more distorted is excellent. In particular, everything that happens when you hit with an attack, that was very impactful. I really thought it heightened the enjoyment of the game.

[TN1]Original Japanese:  ファンから寄せられた意見の4分の1から3分の1くらい”クラウドの名前が挙がっていたんですよ。Sakurai does not explicitly say the Smash Ballot. The original version of this article stated “votes”, but it was updated to “requests” in order to better reflect the original meaning.

The last part of this interview is here.


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  1. That was an interesting article. I had my doubts about cloud being in smash but this gave me more of an understanding why cloud is who he is in smash. Especially not being able to recover better.

    1. Why? Have you been living in a bubble for the last twenty years? Nintendo IS video games. Smash is a celebration of video games. Cloud is a massive character- the posterboy of Final Fantasy, a series with immense Nintendo relevancy and history.

  2. Well, let it not be said that Sakurai wasn’t listening to fans. Vocal fans may not be necessarily be representative, but that’s a far cry from the remarks that Sakurai just chose Cloud for the sake of self-satisfaction.

  3. So go figure, all of those not-always-serious requests for Cloud as far back as Brawl really did end up meaning something!

    Cloud could be in an interesting situation however many years from now, when the next Smash game is in the works. Whether he returns or not will depend a lot on if Nintendo and Square Enix continue to be on good terms…as well as if Final Fantasy VII and/or its remake find their way to Nintendo systems. Interesting to know they did have other characters in mind, though. Perhaps if Cloud’s games still don’t show up on Nintendo systems in the next few years, Smash 5 will have Terra or Black Mage instead.

  4. This interview actually makes it sound like Sakurai had some pretty decent creative freedom with Cloud’s move set. Pretty neat. I think overall he did well with balancing an inherently unbalanced character.

  5. Well this explains a lot on Cloud’s inclusion.

    Having Terra or Bartz in Smash may have made sense since both are from the FF series for SNES. I’ve always thought Terra would made a lot of sense since she was from the FINAL FF game for the Nintendo franchise, and thus needing more female fighters and magicians as well. But If choosing someone that’s been mostly famous and popular as being iconic, then Cloud’s inclusion may had made sense as the result. I’ve actually imagined of Cloud being in Smash during the 64 era first, and that’s how he’s more famous than any other FF characters.

    His move sets is almost like the combination of Ike and Little Mac. Just like Little Mac, he’s fast and powerful, but weak when airborne. Just like Ike, he’s powerful and has a longer reach, and has a quite similar Final Smash but more differences. And that said, he’s more on the Dissidia side rather than the original FFVII side, I guess.

    People still may whine about his inclusion as being meaningless and unwanted, but for me I’m well glad that he’s in Smash, and Sakurai really did a great job on this one, proving Nintendo and Square-Enix are getting along so far. However, if there was to be a next Smash in the future, I think it’ll be difficult for his return IMO. Furthermore, I think DLCs are temporary inclusions, so it wouldn’t be odd he’ll get removed in the end, nor being replaced by other Square-Enix characters. But only Sakurai will know since he’s the master of imaginations and possibilities, and I can count on him as I’m not expecting anything so I won’t be disappointed.

  6. Anybody who honestly thinks Terra deserved to be in before Cloud, one of the biggest video game icons of all time, might actually be legitimately retarded.

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