The following is translated from Nintendo Dream volume 264, April 2016. The magazine was published February 20th, 2016.
This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai.
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Creating stages that are nostalgic and novel
Generally speaking, DLC stages can be separated into two categories: returning stages from past games and stages based on worlds of the DLC newcomers. We delved into how these stages were made.
—Why were Dream Land, Peach’s Castle, and Hyrule Castle chosen to return from the Nintendo 64 version?
Sakurai: There were a lot of reasons, but it was something like a process of elimination. For example, Kongo Jungle was already in the game, and Sector Z was basically already in the game as Corneria (although I know that the size of the two stages are totally different). Smash 64 only has nine stages in the first place, so in the end we chose the stages that we thought were appropriate out of those nine.
—I felt very nostalgic when I saw the tornado in Hyrule Castle. Also, when I saw Hyrule Castle in HD, it was a lot simpler than I remembered (laughs).
Sakurai: Ahh, I remember thinking “I made that a long time ago!” (laughs) The original textures would look blurry in HD, so we remade them. When bringing those three stages back, we focused on making sure the stages felt nostalgic and familiar, but also updated the visuals to look much sharper.
—Lastly, Pirate Ship, from Brawl, also returned, but only to the Wii U. Why is that?
Sakurai: It’s because it couldn’t work on the 3DS. There’s a lot of restrictions we have to work with when making stages for the 3DS version, and Pirate Ship just wasn’t feasible.
Super Mario Maker:
Sakurai: This is a stage we decided to make in order to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Super Mario Bros.
—You can play this stage on 3DS as well, but it feels weird to see Super Mario Maker on a 3DS screen (laughs).
Well, I guess it makes sense that you would feel that way. (laughs). It’s because in order to get the stage working on the 3DS, we had to remove a lot of the breakable parts of the stage. Also, just because it’s a Super Mario Maker stage doesn’t mean the stage should shut down the fighting completely.
—What do you mean by that?
Sakurai: If I were just making a stage for my personal use, I think it would be okay to throw in a bunch of crazy things, but that’s not my job. My job is to design stages that at least somewhat accommodate the flow of battle. I know that the people who prefer the more extreme parts might feel that this stage is a little tame, but I deliberately didn’t make the shape or terrain of the stage too crazy on purpose.
—Why was Suzaku Castle designed with different platform heights on the left and right side?
Sakurai: I thought it would be fun because it would force people to mix up their strategies a bit. Even though stages in Street Fighter II are just flat planes, you can make this stage look like that if you put it in Omega mode. In order to emphasize the strategic differences in the games, I decided to make a stage where the platforms and footing gave the impression of instability.
—The stage also has a special feature where the music will change during a match.
Sakurai: In prior games, Mushroom Kingdom’s music also changed when the timer was winding down, but for Suzaku Castle the music also changes when playing in stock mode, or when enough damage has been amassed. We use a formula to try and predict when things will get tense or exciting, and change the track. The arranged version isn’t available as a My Music track, but I think it’s fun.
—It’s amazing how you can see the city recreated in the background.
Sakurai: Since there wasn’t a model that we could reference, we had to recreate it from scratch. It was very difficult.
—I thought you would have been offered the data.
Sakurai: We collected pictures and materials ourselves, and consulted those while making the stage.
—The gimmick where you collect the Materia for a Summon feels very Final Fantasy-esque.
Sakurai: We really needed to get creative to make that happen. We had to start by thinking, how many Summons should appear in a single two-minute long match? And for the 3DS in particular, we had problems with reading and loading the data. We’ve been controlling the timing of the appearances of Summons on a preset schedule.
—All of the Summons are all very cool.
Sakurai: They are Summons, after all, so we definitely put some thought into showing them off. I think the way Bahamut ZERO’s Tetra Flare moves in slowly from the background is very reminiscent of the original game (laughs).
—Oh, so that’s how you represented the lengths of the Summon animations from back in the day! (laughs).
—Speaking of which, how did you decide on the summons?
Sakurai: We looked at what they do as their attack, how famous they are, and how they look at first glance color-wise as well. Shiva wasn’t included, but I think the five we have create a good balance (Ifrit, Ramuh, Leviathan, Odin, and Bahamut ZERO). I thought about including Fat Chocobo, but I evaluated a lot of factors such as having to render it in polygons, how to balance how it looks with what it does on stage, whether or not that would be fun, and ended up dismissing that idea.
Umbra Clock Tower:
Sakurai: We did get some assets for Umbra Clock Tower from Platinum Games, but of course we can’t just chuck that into Smash, so we made the stage from scratch. The snakelike creature in the background is called Inspired, and in the assets we received it flew around with its torso straight, but in the concept art there were a lot of instances where it was coiled up. So in Smash, we made it more like a sidewinder.
—What’s an example of something you did to make it feel like Bayonetta?
Sakurai: The unique part of Bayonetta’s stage is Purgatorio. It’s visible in the real world, but there’s a separate world that you can’t see, and we recreated that vibe in the stage. Although if you’re not familiar with the source material, it might be hard to understand.
There were a lot of new collaborations from series that aren’t represented in the base Smash game as DLC costumes. We asked about the background behind some of the more notable costumes.
—What led you to decide to make a Geno costume after all this time?
Sakurai: To tell the truth, it’s because I wanted Geno to be a playable character. He has a gun for a hand, and I think he fits in really well with Smash. During Brawl, I thought it would be great if I could add him, but in the end it didn’t become a reality.
—Because of that, you added him as a Mii Costume this time?
Sakurai: That’s right. He’s very popular. When talking about older characters, Geno always gets a lot of requests. He didn’t appear as a fighter, but I was able to achieve something kind of close to that as a Mii Costume.
—Geno is also popular with our readers as well. The Flying Men from Mother come from an even older game than Geno, and the only available assets are sprites. How did you make them into a costume?
Sakurai: On the 3DS version, the Flying Men appear as sprites, but we actually made a 3D version of them. After inspecting the models, we concluded that the 2D models looked better and that’s how things ended up working out. Because of that, we had a 3D model that had actually passed inspection. So we modified that to make it a Mii Costume. On the other hand, not having that pre-made 3D model doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t have made these Mii Costumes.
—Right now, Splatoon is really popular, but was releasing a Mii costume right as Splatoon launched always part of the plan?
Sakurai: Yes. Of course, I knew them from E3, and of course I wanted to include new Nintendo characters. If there were other similarly new Nintendo characters, they may have gotten the same treatment as well.
—The Rathalos armor really makes the Miis look like Hunters (laughs).
Sakurai: There’s no way around the head being so big, so I think it’s best to make the Mii as tall as possible.
—The Tales series has 20 years of history, how did you decide on Lloyd for the costume?
Sakurai: I’m not sure if there was any other appropriate choice?
—For example, how about the protagonist of the first game, Cress? [TN: From Tales of Phantasia]
Sakurai: I really think it has to be Lloyd here (laughs). I could have gone down the route of choosing from the first entry in the series, but for old games it’s somewhat common for the editorial supervision from the original creator to make the process difficult.
—Finally, do you have any final words for our readers?
Sakurai: I believe that being able to create downloadable content requires people’s support. Specifically, I don’t sell characters piece by piece, or nickel and dime the consumer, but create every character from the ground up. This game is a game of grand scale, and creating even a single character requires a lot of work. I think the fact that we were able to create such characters is an impressive feat. I’m extremely grateful for the people who supported us and the customers who financially supported us by buying our product. Thank you very much.
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