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“Smash is Special – Part 2” Sakurai’s Famitsu Column Vol. 558

Note: Do not repost the full translation. Please use the first two paragraphs, link to this translation, and credit Source Gaming. The following is a selection from Famitsu. This translation is for fan use only, and may not accurately reflect the opinions of Masahiro Sakurai. If you enjoyed this article, I would strongly encourage you to support Sakurai by buying his books

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Smash is Special – Part 2,  Vol. 558

Originally published in Famitsu on June 28, 2018

 

Last time, I talked about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Continuing that discussion, this time I’d like to talk a little bit about the game’s development process.

As with Smash for 3DS and Wii U, we contracted Bandai Namco to handle the development. I’ve relocated to their offices and commute there every day. The core team is comprised of staff from the previous projects, and a lot of new people were added, so the whole team is hard at work. It takes several hundred people to create such an enormous amount of content.

With the exception of HAL Laboratory continuing to work on Melee after Smash 64, the studio and team for each game has always been built from the ground up. This means that it usually takes a considerable amount of preparation time. This time, however, Bandai Namco is coming back, which is a huge advantage. This is one of the reasons we were able to bring back every single character.

I’ve been hearing a lot of different interpretations, so I would like to take this opportunity to clarify my own stance at this point in time.

Smash is one of Nintendo’s premiere titles. Even though Smash doesn’t put out a lot of merchandise besides amiibo, Smash supports a lot of other games, serving a sort of  promotional role. In addition, since it’s a huge collaborative project, it exerts a large influence on other titles. So there’s always the possibility of another Smash game being released, and it’s possible there might be a Smash someday that I’m not involved in.

However, I think that “Everyone is here!” is something that won’t be repeated. Anything is possible, of course, so I can’t rule anything out entirely, but I still think this won’t happen again.

For starters, bringing back every fighter drastically increases the cost of development. Merely attempting to do this requires a lot of time, personnel, and money. Even something that looks like a simple port has a huge number of manhours behind it. Moreover, in the case of Smash, we can’t simply create whatever we want. I have to receive approval from the original creators of the characters, and I need to reflect their feedback. If this feedback differs from the direction we’ve taken with a character in Smash, then it’s our job to reconcile this disparity no matter how much time or energy it takes. Contractual agreements and other legal issues can also make development exceedingly difficult. In reality, it was quite a challenge to bring every fighter back, and I barely made it work. Frankly, it almost didn’t happen.

And yes, I know: from a fan’s perspective, more fighters joining the fray is a given. Regardless of what may happen during development, players assume that characters who appeared in the previous game will automatically come back.

Plus, there are so many incredible games out there nowadays. From a creator’s point of view, I often wonder how teams can create something so astounding! Yet these types of amazing games aren’t sold at a premium, but rather for roughly the same price as they always have. Even though there is a big difference between idealized expectations and reality, for us creators, we need to have the right conditions and the right opportunity to bring those dream-like goals to life.

If we kept the previous development team intact, we could build upon what we learned from the last title rather than starting from square one. If we developed for a single platform this time, we wouldn’t have to change the architecture between handheld and console. We already have all the assets from the last title, and the timing feels right. If the dream is to bring back every fighter, all we need to do is reach out and grab it. If now’s our chance, then we’ve got to take it! Sensing that this was the opportune moment, I went forth with the plan to bring everyone back.

But whose dream was it? Well, the fans’, of course. There are many Smash fans out there, and I have always tried to meet as many of their expectations as possible.   

Every so often, people will tell me that I should work on other projects besides Smash. I interpret this to mean they have faith in my ability to create something fun and unique, and I appreciate it.

However, Nintendo is the one who decides to make Smash, and if they ask me to oversee its development, then I feel obligated to make it my top priority regardless of the consequences.

I’ve been tasked with directing this dreadfully expansive project. There are few jobs that will wear you out like this one. That said, working on Smash is far from a given.

If you were to ask if I felt stuck in a rut continuously working on the same series, I would have to disagree. It takes a lot of ingenuity to come up with a way to implement seemingly impossible characters into the game. There’s also a certain prestige that comes with handling content from so many beloved titles.

There are tons of new and interesting games out there, but Smash is truly unique. It’s different than simply spitting out a sequel. It’s a project that can only be made with the cooperation and consent of many different people. Smash is special.

3 comments
  1. Very intresting read. Thanks for the translation!

    GreatMeat on June 28 |
  2. That was a nice read. He’s right in its role as a promotional title, too. It’s to thank for Fire Emblem’s increased popularity Japan and it’s debut overseas, after all! And anecdotally, I got interested in Smash 64 due to one character I liked at the time (Pikachu), and it got me into other things I hadn’t tried up until then (Link/Legend of Zelda most notably among them).

    I imagine going forward it has the same affect on audiences. Now with “Everyone is here!” People get a taste of Nintendo’s history all in one, really! And then some. : )

    xkan on June 28 |
  3. Sakurai is right about the promotional role of Smash. I would never have played Fire Emblem or Metroid without it. And let’s not talk about the Mother series! I’m so glad the Smash series exist, and that the next title will be the biggest crossover of all time (Damn, that’s huge when you think about it).

    Cameo on July 11 |