Warning: Some parts of this article are based on pure opinion/ speculation. Please do not confuse the factual information we’ve presented in this article, and our opinions.
Why is this article split up?
The article was split up because it got too long. It’s nine pages long (without pictures)…which is too way long for the average amount of time spent on this site. In order to make the article more accessible, we decided to release it in two parts. I’ve added a table of contents which previews the points that will be addressed in this part, and the next part.
Table of Contents:
Sales and Attach Rates
Smash Without Sakurai
Leveraging the Nintendo IP
Dr. Serkan Toto’s Rumor
Before reading this article, please read through part one.
Smash Without Sakurai:
Sakurai has numerous health problems which may prevent him tackling Smash again. It is confirmed that he is taking a short break before starting his next job. “Job” is the keyword here, as he has usually referred to Smash for Wii U/3DS as a “project.” Full quote below, emphasis mine:
I’ve been developing the DLC characters for Smash for 3DS/ Wii U. I’ve been very thorough when making these characters, so I needed a lot of time. I haven’t been able to take a vacation since starting this project, but it’s almost over! I want to enjoy every day like it’s a Sunday. However, that doesn’t mean my next job hasn’t been decided already. So it’s less like I’m taking a break, and more like I’m taking a breather for a moment.
This might mean it’s more of a consulting type work. Right now, it’s unknown and jumping to conclusions (either way) won’t help anything. He did state in his 499 Famitsu Column that he was taking an, “extended vacation.” For those of you who would like to check that particular translation, I’ve included the original Japanese at the bottom. How long is unknown.
Sakurai also recently stated this in the Sakurai x Nomura interview.Therefore, whatever Sakurai’s next job is…it won’t even start right away, as Sakurai is taking a rest. How long that break is going to be is unknown. Sakurai does seem to have enjoyed DLC, as he seemed optimistic in the Fire Emblem 25 Anniversary interview. Sakurai suffers from calcific tendonitis in his right arm, and very recently has stated his vision has gotten worse (from aging), in the Fire Emblem 25th Anniversary Interview:
Recently, my vision has been getting worse as well…anyhow, leaving that aside (laughs).
However, there two major reasons why Sakurai would come back. The first and most important is that he has good relations with all the other content creators in Nintendo. Aonuma, Miyamoto and other heavyweights at Nintendo trust Sakurai. Aonuma actually helped convinced Sakurai to return to the series in Brawl. The following quote comes from “I’m Making Smash.”
“To put it bluntly, if you aren’t involved with Smash, then I guess it’s the end of the series. Without your ability to integrate a variety of games, you skill, design sense and without your way of thinking, the team would fail. Simply put, there’s no one who can replace you. I believe that we would be forced to make a new Smash game without heart [without you].”
“It’s pretty difficult. If I keep making Smash, I get to work on interesting things like Ryu, but if I leave, I don’t know if the staff could do it by themselves.”
Smash is his most popular franchise and allows him to reach a wide audience. Therefore, I think it’s very likely that Sakurai will continue working on Smash, even with his health issues.
Finally, there is one more possibility that we need to discuss. Until now, we’ve been operating under the assumption that the next Smash game will require a full-scale, AAA game development cycle. But there’s one option that doesn’t require that. Will Smash for NX– or, at the very least, the first Smash game to hit the NX– be a remake?
A lot of fans are clamoring for Nintendo to release a Smash for NX that combines content from both Smash for Wii U and 3DS. I find this more unlikely than most fans, as Sakurai has spoken out against straight re-releases in the past. He has worked on one re-release in the past, and that was Kirby Super Star for the SNES, a game which was released in 1996, and contained a remake of Kirby’s Dream Land, which was released four years prior. It combined multiple games, and included new content. It’s not impossible that a remaster could happen, but it’s also been nearly a decade since Sakurai made his sole remaster. Personally, the sense that I get from reading Sakurai’s interviews and columns is that he needs a pull in order to want to make a game. There’s a reason he’s making this game, and clearly the majority of the time it’s not ‘previous game plus alpha.’ Sakurai has done a lot of work on reimagining genres, and making his games accessible to beginners. Therefore, we shouldn’t expect Sakurai to follow the typical Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed yearly-release schedule.
Sakurai realizes that Smash is a way he can be fulfilled as an artist. If you look carefully at the reasons he quit HAL Laboratories, and some of the statements he said in the Fire Emblem 25th Anniversary Interview, there is a major connection. He stated that he wanted to work with other content creators, something he strives to do as a freelance employee. This is something he did with Meteos and the Mushiking (beetle fighting game) games he created. However, with Brawl and Smash for Wii U/3DS, Sakurai realized he could work with interesting properties on his own terms. The successful inclusion of Snake and Sonic in Brawl led to 6 different third party characters and the involvement of a lot of new franchises in Smash for Wii U.
However, it’s always possible that Nintendo moves forward with a Smash for remake without Sakurai on board. While this seems unlikely, given how well-liked Sakurai is by various notable higher-ups at Nintendo (Miyamoto and Aonuma, among others), there are a variety of factors that could entice Nintendo into wanting Smash 4 remade on the NX as soon as possible.
One of the benefits of remakes is that they can be released with less manpower and time than a typical AAA game. Also, when considering one of the major drawbacks of the Wii U– a weak launch title lineup– having a remake of Smash 4 as an NX launch title is probably a fairly enticing prospect for Nintendo, as they look to learn from the failures of the Wii U.
Of course, there are drawbacks and logistical issues as well. At this point in time it’s unknown if the NX can natively run Wii U software, as Nintendo has constantly stated, “it’s not another Wii U”. It’s not improbable that Wii U software can at least be ported to the NX, but the system architecture is currently unknown. We don’t even know what type of controllers the NX will support. If a remake is released early in the life cycle of the NX, would this mean the NX wouldn’t receive its own fully new Smash game? Would Sakurai appreciate the creation of a Smash game that most likely goes against his wishes?
Leveraging the Nintendo IP:
Before Iwata passed away, he set the groundwork for a lot of Nintendo initiatives that will play out over the next five years. Perhaps the biggest is Nintendo’s increase involvement with promoting their IPs in various formats. This includes movies, theme parks, mobile games and other partnerships. The 30th Anniversary for Mario saw Nintendo partnering up with a lot of brands in order to sell merchandise from pencil cases, encyclopedias to shirts. One of the key aspects of leveraging the Nintendo IP is amiibo, which debuted in Smash for Wii U/ 3DS. Whatever’s Smash’s future is, I do think the connection and promotion of Nintendo’s IP will continue to play an important role, as Nintendo is looking for new ways to push their IPs.
Because of this strategy, it does make sense to make another Smash Bros. game. Between the success of the series, and the future of Nintendo’s properties, a new installment will come. It’s just a matter of when.
Dr. Serkan Toto’s Rumor:
It’s now impossible to talk about Smash NX without mentioning some new developments. On January 28th, Dr. Serkan Toto tweeted out:
Bandai Namco is currently developing several NX titles. Smash Bros is planned to be a launch title. I am not sure about the date – yet ;).
He then followed up with the following tweet:
To follow up on my last tweet: I haven’t heard if it’s a completely new (numbered) Smash Bros or not. Otherwise, source situation is solid.
I do believe Dr. Toto’s rumor is credible. This is because of his position in the video game games industry (Dr. Toto is a consultant), his geographic location (he is based in Tokyo, the same place Bandai Namco is located) and his history (Dr. Toto doesn’t have have a history of debuting false rumors). This seems like information he could have responsibly obtained, and it’s very likely.
I believe what Smash NX as Dr. Toto has described will be a straight port of 3DS and Wii U. Additional content may or may not come, it’s really 50/50. There have been a lot of rumors on what the NX is, but it might be something like a handheld and a home console combined, a third form. A release that combines both the 3DS and Wii U version of Smash for the new system, including the DLC does make sense. Depending on what version of NX is used (if there are indeed multiple form factors), it could use either the 3DS or Wii U code. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a port of just Smash for Wii U, or a combination of Smash for Wii U and 3DS, but instead both in the same package. This will line up with Sakurai’s comments stating that his next project has been decided, and allow for a reasonable development time and still meet the NX launch window (if the NX does launch Holiday 2016).
Smash for NX will happen at some point. There are still a lot of questions of when and how it’ll appear, and a lot of people have strong opinions. While I (PushDustIn) think Dr. Toto’s rumor is credible, there is a possibility it won’t come true (See the Shovel Knight rumor). With Sakurai taking an “extended vacation”, then I believe that if the rumor Toto reported on is true, then it will just be a remake with no additional content (or new content as DLC). If there is no Smash at launch then I think we will see Smash for NX in the middle of the NX’s lifecycle. I hope you guys have enjoyed this article. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.
SG’s Translation: Personally, I’m happy I can finally take an extended vacation.