Sakurai Explains Stress Involved in Selecting Characters for Smash Bros.

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

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Smash Bros Creator, Sakurai

Masahiro Sakurai at E3 2013

In an interview with Polygon, Masahiro Sakurai explains his process in selecting characters for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, and all the stress that comes with it. For Sakurai, choosing which character is in, and which one gets axed, is an intensely difficult process to the point it affects his physical and mental well-being. According to the director, the amount of stress he feels is “almost to the brink of death.”

Sakurai heavily empathizes with the players of his games. He explains that Super Smash Bros. is defined by its character roster, and the variety of that roster creates a unique core experience for each player. Meticulous choices need to be made to preserve this principle, and he calls attention to removing certain characters. Whether they’re most-played, highly skilled, or even minor characters; removing them will upset fans as each character has its loyal audience.

When selecting these fighters, Sakurai always wrestles with topics like character uniqueness, what they can bring to Super Smash Bros., their contrasts against other fighters, and how they can balance each other out. Graphics, sound, animation, and game balance also come into play with these considerations. Characters are all built from scratch through each iteration in the series; with their colors, builds, resolution, and precision carefully determined to the point they can be faithfully represented on the hardware they’re being played. With the new Super Smash Bros. running on two separate pieces of hardware, the process is incredibly more challenging.

E3 2013 Nintendo Direct Super Smash Bros.

Characters must also be created so that their movements make sense, remaining faithful to their titles of origin, and how they can exist logically within the world of Super Smash Bros. When discussing Samus, Sakurai interprets her to be “floaty,” due to her always jumping in the original Metroid. As a result, her mid-air motions are slowed down so players have the advantage to accurately aim and shoot.

Discussing Megaman, Sakurai and his team focused on building him around the NES designs, which he describes as a “chunkier, less angular, less sleek version of the character.” Megaman’s basic animations are inspired by the NES games, and his move set is based on his ability to absorb characters from Megaman games instead of melee-based combat. Even his Shoryuken-like uppercut from the Marvel Vs. Capcom games is in his move set. Getting Capcom’s approval to use Megaman was actually a very quick and smooth process.

As Sakurai is finishing up the remaining development for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, he will be bringing more updates via Miiverse and the game’s main website. He ends by saying that he will not be able to talk as much about his team’s development, as he did prior to the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, presumably because he is still at work. Hopefully when he finishes making the new Super Smash Bros., he will recover as smoothly as possible.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo Wii U and 3DS are slated for a 2014 release.


About Andy Na

Andy was a member at Operation Rainfall since the beginning of its campaigning days. Though something of a troublemaker at the time, he now contributes to Operation Rainfall and shares his love for all things gaming and the visual arts. His favorite games include Xenoblade Chronicles, Kid Icarus Uprising, and No More Heroes. Andy currently holds a Bachelors degree in Cinema, which he uses to pursue filmmaking.