Sakurai talks Smash Bros. development - Thoughts on characters, DLC, development struggles, and much more

The Sakurai motherload

Not that long ago, a collection of Famitsu columns from Masahiro Sakurai was released. Fans have since picked the book up and pored over its contents. Below you can find a summary of the more interesting details.

- Sakurai doesn't think characters like Goku, Shrek, and others don't make sense for Smash Bros.
- Smash Bros. is not a series where he thinks about continuation, so characters aren't held back, and DLC doesn't impact the next game
- Sakurai sees Smash as a party game and would like things to be more casual
- Sakurai also recognizes that he's not the only one who can interpret what the series can/cannot be
- back in the Wii U/3DS days, there were restrictions on how many updates to a game you could do
- updates are normal these days, but they're a bit of a voluntary service
- Sakurai thinks its important to hear feedback from a large variety of players, including newcomers
- no plans for a Smash Ballot again
- Sakurai was making plans for Smash Ultimate while on vacation
- Sakurai treats a characters personality as a game in and of itself
- characters joining Smash has an advertising effect, even if the characters appear in games that aren't on Nintendo platforms
- Sakurai played a beta of Breath of the Wild in 2 days to get a feel for its inclusion in Smash Bros. Ultimate
- Sakurai feels games shouldn't be created based on market research alone
- Sakurai feels games made to imitate other games is unfortunately
- 60 billion yen is enough to make every Smash game up to Ultimate
- Sakurai would like a Smash Bros. area in Super Nintendo World
- Smash Ultimate's DLC was planned without the developer's input
- DLC development takes time, and DLC business is far more risky than most think
- gathering staff to create new DLC is tough
- Sakurai isn't fond of season pass DLC
- Omega battlefield variants take more time than people think
- HAL is credited, but not involved in development anymore
- the team was very careful to avoid leaks during E3 2018
- the story idea of World of Light has existed since Brawl
- the idea of Spirits was a last resort, and Sakurai isn't sure this idea will return
- there was a plan to include a Spirits-like map in Melee
- Sakurai doesn't follow internet reactions and doesn't know of fan predictions
- Sakurai took a long vacation, but can't travel far as he has a cat
- by March 2019, the online win ratio is very close for all characters

Classic Masahiro Sakurai interview details the process of securing characters for the original Smash Bros.

Humble beginnings

The Smash Bros. series has become a celebration of gaming in general over the years. Nintendo's biggest and brightest stars rub elbows with characters from third party franchises in order to battle it out for supremacy. Nowadays, fans speculate wildly about just who could make an appearance in the franchise.

As you well know, the Smash Bros. series didn't always feature third party characters. Back with the first installment, it was a Nintendo-only affair. Still, bringing those characters together was no easy task! In a Nice Games interview from 1999, Masahiro Sakurai details the process of locking down Nintendo's characters for the original Smash Bros..

The first person I asked for permission was Shigesato Itoi. Next was Shigeru Miyamoto. When he saw our work he said, “Hey, you’ve got Mario down pretty good!” The Pokemon characters took the longest to get permission, because thir image is tightly supervised. I broached the subject with Pokemon Company president Tsunekazu Ishihara, but the impression I got from him was that it would probably be difficult. Satoshi Tajiri was more encouraging—he was like, “this looks cool!”

Personally, as the creator of Kirby, I understood how they felt: I would feel be really upset if Kirby was featured in a game that people ended up disliking, or if the people got his image and movements wrong. In fact, there had been times when I’d been kind of annoyed by the way Kirby was depicted in someone else’s illustration or as a game cameo. Smash Bros. was conceived, in part, as a reaction against that kind of sloppy handling. I imagine anyone who creates a character feels similarly protective, but Smash Bros. brought an unprecedented number of different characters together and it was of the utmost importance to us that we re-create their personalities and characteristics faithfully. I absolutely did not want to betray the original characters’ creators.

Sakurai points out that his tweets aren't always Smash Bros.-related teases

Stop reading into everything!

Has Masahiro Sakurai teased Smash Bros. news on his Twitter account before? He sure has, and this has lead people to believe that every tweet he sends out is some sort of tease about Smash Bros.. Masahiro Sakurai himself has sent out another tweet today to let people know that not everything he tweets is related to Smash Bros.. Sakurai plays through a lot of different games, and simply likes to share his time spent with those titles. Sometimes a tweet is just a tweet!

Sakurai's Collected Famitsu Works reveals various tidbits about Smash Bros. development throughout the years

A brand-new round of insight

As we mentioned the other day, Sakurai's Collected Famitsu Works: 2015 to Feb. 2019 takes a look back at Masahiro Sakurai's Famitsu features over the years. Not only do we get recaps of the features, but also new comments from Sakurai. Thanks to PushDustin, we have some translation tidbits from the book. Check out the info below.

Thanks to Andreslop24 for the heads up!

Sakurai leaves his autograph at Brownies' studio

But what does it mean?

With work on Smash Bros. Ultimate dying down a bit, Masahiro Sakurai has a bit more free time. During a break from work, Mr. Sakurai decided to pop in over at the Brownies office to visit friends. Brownies handled work on Mother 3 back in the day, so Sakurai certainly built a special relationship with the team while teaming with them.

In the Brownies office, you can find a giant Mother 3 banner that various people come in and sign. Sakurai decided to add his name to the banner today, complete with a doodle of Kirby. Sakurai also wrote the phrase “Smash De Choppiri,” which not even the Brownies' team knows the meaning of!

Sakurai's Collected Famitsu Works: 2015 to Feb. 2019 set for release in Japan

This man doesn't know how to rest!

Many of you know that Masahiro Sakurai writes a bi-weekly column for Famitsu magazine, and has been doing so for many years now. Did you know that those features get collected into anthologies? It's true, and the 9th installment was just announced!

Sakurai's Collected Famitsu Works: 2015 to Feb. 2019 is set to launch in Japan on April 25th, 2019. As we stated, this is the 9th installment in the long-running series, and it chronicles Sakurai's features from the end of Smash Bros. Wii U development all the way up to Feb. 2019.

Sakurai shares details on Joker's inclusion on Smash Bros. Ultimate (Victory screen customization, music, color schemes, & more)

Did you know all of these features?

Joker is hitting Smash Bros. Ultimate later today, as confirmed by a wave of announcements last night. In typical fashion, there's even more to Joker's inclusion than we first though. Check out the blurb below for interesting tidbits on the character, as well as some features you might not be aware of. This info comes straight from Masahiro Sakurai himself!

Thank you for your patience. The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate version of Persona 5’s Joker is now complete! You’ll find lots of details about the fighter on our official homepage, but I’d like to share a few extra tidbits of info. Are you ready?

Joker’s victory screen in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate replicates Persona 5’s victory screen, but there’s also a version where you ride in the Morgana Car. Did you know you can choose the victory sequence by holding down left, up, or right when “GAME!” appears?

The Mementos stage will change color when music from Persona 3 or Persona 4 is played. If you have a favorite Persona game, be sure to tweak the music frequency! When Joker wins, the victory screen will match the stage’s color & you’ll hear result screen music from P3, P4, or P5.

In a Free-for-All with at least three players, the color of Joker’s victory screen will match the player’s color. Perhaps you won’t see green too frequently. Also, it’s a small detail, but the color selection matches the P3, P4, and P5 base colors.

Joker’s Final Smash, All-Out Attack, has two variations that include different members of the Phantom Thieves. If you win during Stock or Stamina mode using the All-Out Attack, you will go straight to the victory screen, just like in Persona 5.

There are 11 songs in this DLC, and it still costs less than a CD single! The three newly arranged songs are Beneath the Mask, Aria of the Soul, and I'll Face Myself (P4). For “Beneath...” ACE-san did the arrangement. The song was newly recorded by the original singer, Lyn-san!!

The Phantom Thieves will randomly appear in the Mementos stage. Futaba isn’t there with them, but she can sometimes be heard during All-Out Attack or after winning. The other members also have 3 lines each for the victory screen. All voices for this DLC were newly recorded.

As a bonus, we’ve added new Spirit battles with rules tailored to each character. Unlike normal Spirit Board battles, they won’t run away or swap out. You can try as many times as you like until you get the Spirit. We plan to add more Spirits with each DLC fighter, so stay tuned!

And that’s it! We’re already hard at work on the next DLC and the next, but for now, please enjoy Joker! #SmashBrosUltimate.

Thanks to Neverunplaying for the heads up!

Masahiro Sakurai says Joker is coming 'soon' to Smash Bros. Ultimate

But how soon is soon?!

We all are pretty sure that Joker is still on for Smash Bros. Ultimate release sometime during April 2019, but the question is when? Nintendo isn't ready to say, but Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai is sure ready to tease. While attending the Famitsu Award 2018 event, Sakurai told everyone that Joker is going to be added to the game..."soon."

Sakurai goes into detail about his health issues during Smash Bros. Ultimate's development

Sakurai recently sat down with Nintendo Dream for a massive interview which covered a wide range of topics. In that interview, we get to hear about Sakurai's overall health.

Fans who follow Sakurai's work on the Smash Bros. series know that he sometimes has some rather stressful health issues, and unfortunately, it seems he had his fair share during Smash Bros. Ultimate's development. The comments below come directly from Sakurai, and were spliced together to paint the full picture of his health troubles.

I made some changes from what I used to do compared to now. For example, as a principle, I always left the office by 10 PM, no matter what. Many companies are discouraging extreme overtime these days, too. ...Well, actually… I still had a lot of stomach problems.

...I’ve had that situation once or twice before during development. It was like I got food poisoning from some oysters that I didn’t eat. It was like my food had come into contact with them or something. But I cook my food thoroughly… Why did I get sick?

...I just get an IV drip and go to work like normal. I guess I’m a hard worker? (wry laughter) I’m a freelancer, so I don’t have any strict rules on my time. As long as I can complete the game, I could show up to the office once per week and I think it’d be within the realm of forgiveness. But instead I make sure I come to work every day and write proper daily reports and such. I’m always working, but there’s a lot of things that keep me in good spirits!

Kirby Cafe adds two very special drawings to its decorations

During its 10-day makeover, the Kirby Cafe got all sorts of new goodies. New menu items, a new statue outside, and some new decorations. Among those decorations is a very special pair of drawings! They come from Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai, and Kirbry series director, Shinya Kumazaki. Not only did they offer up Kirby doodles, they added their signatures as well!