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Masahiro Sakurai and Yuji Horri talk Hero in Smash Bros. Ultimate, the development process, and much more

A task of mammoth proportions
by rawmeatcowboy
26 September 2019
GN Version 5.0

Dragon Quest XI S' launch live-stream in Japan featured numerous Square-Enix devs, as well as a special appearance from Masahiro Sakurai. Wondering what Smash's head honcho had to say during the stream? Check out a recap of the live-stream discussion below.

- Sakurai and Nintendo told Square-Enix they had a proposal for Hero in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- the proposal itself was very detailed, and Sakurai and Nintendo spoke very passionately, saying “We want to use Hero.”
- there was discussion about a monster being better for the role, but that was decided against
- Sakurai says that requests to add in a Dragon Quest representative have been around for a long time
- Nintendo approached Sakurai saying it might be possible, so he ended up doing the presentation proposal
- Sakurai knew he wanted to work with the franchise, but wasn't sure in what way at first
- Sakurai felt Hero was the best option, but would have worked with the Slime or other suggestions from Square-Enix
- Sakurai was quite convinced that he’d be rejected, but the agreement came surprisingly quickly
- Square-Enix approved the idea due to Sakurai’s passion, and because the ‘best of’ element in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
- With Smash Bros. being such a popular series, Horii wanted Hero to join the game
- the rules for Dragon Quest appearances were much stricter years ago, but have changed in recent years
- Sakurai acknowledges that there are people who hate characters like Hero who add in random elements
- Sakurai says Smash is an unpredictable game where you have fun and move onto the next game anyways
- one spell Sakurai had trouble with was differentiating the Frizz line of spells (neutral B) and Sizz/Sizzle (via Command Select)
- he had to look up how the spell functioned in the original games, and how Frizz would float out to hit the enemy
- Sizz would fly quickly and sear the enemy when it hit the enemy
- making the Yggdrasil’s Altar was very troubling, to the point Sakurai thought of giving it up
- some other alternatives included the volcano
- in the end, they decided upon the altar as it would show the world tree that symbolizes Dragon Quest XI
- the world map as seen in the stage references the world map in the PlayStation 4 version, but was made from scratch
- originally there were only two Heroes set to join Smash Ultimate, being Erdrick and Eleven
- Horii later said it would be fine to have four Heroes join
- according to Sakurai, he was ready to make eight different Heroes, but that wasn’t a realistic option
- after Erdrick and Eleven, the hero of Dragon Quest VIII was decided as he was popular overseas.
- popularity wasn’t the only factor, as then the hero of Dragon Quest V would be included
- in the end, it came down to either the hero of Dragon Quest I or Dragon Quest IV
- as there wasn’t a unified image for Dragon Quest I’s main character across media, IV was decided upon
- Sakurai feels being a game designer is all about bringing together that sort of “fun” which is usually intangible and subjective
- for Horii, it’s something from a more practical angle, as in game designer = game creator
- Sakurai finds it nice when he’s working on something alone, as he’s usually in the director role and talking to people
- it’s more fun or interesting for him when he’s working on inputting data, especially the moment there are successful results
- for Horii, as an RPG creator he loves the part where he’s setting the stats and characteristics of battles
- Sakurai's the type to work under pressure, and he approaches his work not in an imaginative approach, but rather task-like
- for Horii, he’s the type to get a lot of inspiration from other media, which transform into other ideas for his works
- Sakurai gets inspiration by playing many games, such as Dragon Quest Walk, Link’s Awakening, and Borderlands 3
- Sakurai plays games while doing other things like watching Netflix, or gaming while riding the aerobic bike
- Sakurai makes sure to think of what the players want
- overall, he tries to go for a wide range of players, while still keeping a certain amount of depth
- for Horii, while it’s something similar, it also has to be fun to play for himself
- Sakurai has other hobbies like going driving, although he doesn’t want to make a driving game
- for Horii, he’s more relaxed, until meetings where he sort of shifts into working mode
- Horii doesn’t worry too much about outdoing each game in content
- when he adds in all the ideas, the game just ends up really large in scale, so he just focuses on adding in the ideas he has
- for Sakurai, he’s uncertain what to do next if there is a next game in the series
- he’s making the current one with the mindset that this is the last one, and he thinks that it might be impossible to top this one
- in Kid Icarus Uprising, Pit and Palutena are always trading jokes, and that was all written by Sakurai
- Sakurai says he's not that serious of a person
- as a game director, he puts on a stoic mask, and might say harsh things to his staff
- Sakurai thinks that if people were actually that serious, they wouldn’t be able to make fun games
- Sakurai does acknowledge he has some trouble showing off that fun side of him though