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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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.
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