Sakurai on the need to appeal to all types of gamers, new Smash Bros. "more interesting" than the others - Nintendo Everything

Submit a news tip

Sakurai on the need to appeal to all types of gamers, new Smash Bros. “more interesting” than the others

Posted on August 29, 2014 by (@NE_Brian) in 3DS, GameCube, News, Wii, Wii U

This month’s issue of EDGE features interviews with a number of different developers, including Super Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai. Among other things, Sakurai was asked to comment on how tournament players tend to focus on Melee as opposed to Brawl, and what will be done to ensure that something similar doesn’t happen this time around.

Sakurai answered with a very lengthy response that can only be summarized in so many words. Many of his comments addressed the need to appeal to both casual and inexperienced gamers.

He also mentioned, “Although the pace of the game had to be lowered compared to Melee in order to achieve this balance, we have managed to keep the dynamism because we didn’t have to gear towards novice players like we did with Brawl. In fact, we recreated all characters almost from scratch. Also, I feel on a personal level that this game is more interesting than the three previous games in the series.”

Head past the break for all of Sakurai’s comments. Believe us when we say there are plenty of them!

I think the popularity of Melee rested fundamentally on the game’s speed. The dazzling exchange of skills was the game’s most exhilarating aspect and the rough edges in terms of the game’s balance went mostly unnoticed. Even though the dynamic range of the characters was limited, the game somehow made its mark, even with hardcore fans of the genre.

Melee’s controls were, however, quite complicated and very tiring if the player really got into it in a serious way. This made the game less accessible for novice players and it basically ended up becoming a Smash Bros. game for hardcore fighting fans. I personally regret that, because I originally intended the Smash Bros. series to be for players who couldn’t handle such highly skilled games.

If tournament popularity was the most important consideration, then I think we would create a Smash Bros. game that included a multitude of fast moves with complicated controls. However, I believe this is actually the greatest shortcoming of fighting games at present, and that is the reason why I don’t do it.

Games aimed at casual users, such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit, reinvigorated the market and their success lay behind Wii’s popularity, [so] we had to make sure that Brawl would also be fun for first-time players. We also had to make sure that everyone could use the controls, such as holding the Wii Remote sideways. As a result of these considerations, overall Brawl is rather tame game; this had its advantages, but it also took away some of the excitement.

While there’s a lot of enthusiasm for tournaments on the one hand, there are also users who just give up on these sorts of games because they can’t handle the complexity and speed. While other fighting games continue to work on honing this tournament aspect, I think that we need to move in a direction where there is more of a focus on inexperienced gamers. Companies that release products that target a very vocal, visible group of gamers tend to receive good reactions and they may feel good about it, but I think that we have to pay special attention to the less vocal, not so visible group of players, or else games will just fade away.

There are so many other games out there which are geared to tournaments. It is important for us, however, to maintain the game’s status as a kind of ‘rough’ party game in which anyone can play without feeling too much pressure over winning or losing. We therefore want to keep a nice balance in which a wide variety of events can occur in the game, some of them quite outrageous. With this, Smash Bros. isn’t just a fighting game, it is an opponent-based action game.

The most important thing is that the game have breadth and depth, since we would like them to be popular with both novices and hardcore gamers. We think that people who aren’t so good at turning the tables and coming back from behind can still get enjoyment out of the [new] game, even if they turn off items and Smash Balls.

Although the pace of the game had to be lowered compared to Melee in order to achieve this balance, we have managed to keep the dynamism because we didn’t have to gear towards novice players like we did with Brawl. In fact, we recreated all characters almost from scratch. Also, I feel on a personal level that this game is more interesting than the three previous games in the series.

Leave a Reply

  • Richard Blanco

    *clap, clap ,clap* This man gets it. Melee is too hardcore, Brawl is too casual, 3DS/Wii U is just right. Good job, Sakurai-san!

    • Austin

      Melee was “too hardcore”? The game was the best selling game on the Gamecube, and everybody loved it, casual and hardcore alike! The beautiful thing about Melee is its initially a party game, for casual players, like Sakurai said here. It accomplished that aspect, and wasn’t very hard to play. There is a large gap between the casual player and the competitive player that makes the game so fast. If the player decides not to make that leap, then the game will remain casual. Melee appealed to both sides perfectly, since you don’t see that fast and technical playstyle unless you DECIDE to play competitively. By making the whole game more moderated like this, you’ll have a game that is just as casual, but not nearly as competitive. I don’t see why Sakurai didn’t stick with the Melee formula that was beneficial to casual and competitive alike. A hybrid between Melee and Brawl would still isolate the competitive player.

      • Newsfan

        A lot of what the competitive community glommed onto with Melee was the equivalent of snaking in Mario Kart: increased inputs without making a more interesting game.

        I’m very glad they’re not trying to replicate that.

        • Jaedrik Cobalt

          You are wrong, sir, save for L-canceling. It is a superfluous input. Melee has an incredible breadth and depth in its movement options, so much so that it became lightning in a bottle. Unfortunately, as Sakurai says, it’s very difficult and too complex. Now, if we could just have those movement options without the outrageous complexity, everyone would be happy.

          • Paul Wright

            “You are wrong, sir, save for L-canceling”

            reworded to: I know youre right, but for the sake of argument you cant use this example. now youre wrong”

          • bartonzok

            Lol yea pretty much. He backed the over complicated input opinion by putting l-cancelling in that category. Besides there was practical use for l-cancelling that added depth to both melee and 64. Most characters wouldnt even have good pressure. On top of this, l-cancelling alone made ridiculously slow characters like bowser playable at higher levels. L-cancelling can stand to have a more lenient input timing but it still adds its own usefulness to the gameplay.

          • lambchowder

            to people who master it, thus adding a plateau that would preclude many hundreds of people from ever being able to beat them

          • bartonzok

            Well yea thats game depth for ya. It wouldn’t be much of an interesting game to those who like technically engaging gameplay. Besides, you didn’t have to learn wave-dashing to play smash because it also had an abundance of different features which made things like wavedashing and l-cancelling obsolete due to the fact of imbalance of items, modes, etc. Along with this, the game didn’t push those mechanics, so not everyone knew about it or faced anyone that did. When I played Melee during the time of its release, I had no idea about these techniques and neither did anyone I played against.

          • Jaedrik Cobalt

            What? No. That’s an improper interpretation of my intention.
            L-canceling is an increase in inputs without making more interesting gameplay, since it is an entirely superfluous mechanic which must always be done, whereas with a patently superior design, that is autocanceling, such inputs are removed and the good gameplay mechanics are kept. The other mechanics have a viable tradeoff of using or not using them, and they create more interesting gameplay. Why do you resort to deliberately misinterpreting me? It waxes red herring or a personal attack, sir.

          • lambchowder

            wavebirding, changing momentum in air (physically impossible nonsense) Turbo sliding and that horrible crap ruined Mario Kart as a franchise

      • hallucinogenius

        It really comes down to online. If you had competitive smashers playing online against casual players, many of those casual players would not stick around. This happens in all competitive fighting games. They don’t want to lose that crowd.

      • lambchowder

        LOOK AT THIS . Even when its slowed down I can’t tell what the hell Starfox is doing half the time, whether its a kick or a punch, all I see is a bunch of smoke and explosions. Then on normal speed its too dizzying to begin to grasp. There is no way if we remade Melee that the online modeS wouldn’t be utterly hijacked by ultra enthusiasts in both months.

        • Austin

          That’s why matchmaking can separate the pro from the casual. The best CoD players play on the same servers as people that just picked up the game, and it can get frustrating. A matchmaking service based on win ratio and level would solve this problem.

          • bartonzok

            Well said dude. I can never meet up with my friend online in CoD cause his skill and rank are just too high. The roles are reversed when we play mvc3. Casuals need to understand that matchmaking isn’t there to create a skill-based hierarchy for intimidation, its there FOR THEM

            On a side note, did he just refer to Fox McCloud Starfox. I thought that was weird.

    • Jaedrik Cobalt

      Bro. Casuals don’t play against hardcore players. If they do, the hardcore player will win more often the majority of the time anyways, all the way down to until you make the game completely RNG. Thankfully, Smash Bros. is not an MMO with world pvp, so we can segregate the casuals and hardcore players very easily. What the casual doesn’t know cannot possibly hurt them, and even if they do know then why should they improve themselves in that way if they have no desire to be wrapped up in the mechanics moreso? I really don’t understand this sort of argument, especially because Smash is so intuitive at its base level. It is very easy to learn, the only difference between Melee and Brawl is that Melee was far harder to master. Sakurai has nothing to lose by adding advanced techniques such as wavedashing or dash-dancing or shine canceling, or by reverting many of the changes to the physics engine from Melee to Brawl, he has nothing to lose save the hardcore market provided he keep the complexity out of the way of casuals. This is a fact.

  • Nocturne

    well duhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ssb4 has more modes then all the other 3 combined and will have more characters by far and will work ebtter with online play

  • Sanya Marshall

    I shall never question the great Sakurai but if they really built all the characters from the ground up then why is Ganondorf still a falcon clone

    • That is a flaw he will never fix. Even after so many fans clamored for Ganondorf to have an original moveset in Brawl and now in SSB4. And Sakurai even taunts the fans who wanted this by giving Ganondorf a taunt with his sword. Shameful.

      • Paul Wright

        I main ganondorf and like him the way he is. I would have been pissed if they changed him. There are people who feel the same way as well. If they changed him they would have been spitting in the face of that crowd as well.

        Sakurai cant win in scenarios like this

    • Corey Bloxham

      he did say almost all characters though

    • Corey Bloxham

      he did say almost all characters though

  • MadCrain

    It’s sad to see him tring to appeal to the filthy casuals.
    Melee being to hardcore is absolute bullsh*t since my casual friends LOVED it when it came out, was Brawl too casual? yes, but Melee was just right, only because players could become better if they understood the mechanics does not mean it is hardcore, if you’re trying to erase easy to play but hard to master and just make it easy to play it’s a shame.

    Also, Brawl wasn’t that casual, was making the players slow, tripping and not even balancing the characters dumb, yes, but you seem to be doing the same thing with this new game, except the tripping thank christ, your words being balanced characters aren’t fun or some bs like that.

    I hope there is a middle level but from what all the pros have said I doubt that’s what you even want, I hate to quote a salty loser but if SSB4 is just an HD Brawl I’ll just stick to PM, hopefully it isn’t!

    To the casuals though, this must be great news, this is all just my opinion so don’t take it to heart.

    • Absolutely agree. Melee was a bit too fast, but not too hardcore. I know many people who used to play it casually and loved it.

      • MadCrain

        As do I, not only did my girlfriend, but my best friends girlfriend and cousins friends incluiding girls and men would love playing it, never did they say to me… too hardcore bro, lol.

        I seriously do not get what Sakurai sees, but whatever. I even have Call of Duty friends who prefer Melee over brawl and they don’t even know why.

      • Austin

        It was only too fast if you decided to make it too fast (competitive environment). Otherwise it was the perfect speed for casuals.

  • I wonder if they’d ever consider making 2 modes in the game..

    I’m totally happy with how it is now, but for the melee enthusiasts, it would be nice if there was a special mode which brought back those melee mechanics. I mean, if Project M is able to have a separate mode (Turbo mode), I don’t see why it isn’t possible to implement it in this smash game haha.

    I’m just happy for the new smash as is anyway though lol.

    • Velen (Not WoW)

      Cause that’s not the focus of the game’s design is why. Appealing to the Melee Players wholesale is not their goal, and such a mode would never be implemented for that reason.

      • Ryan James

        that’s why its optional.
        its mostly the air dodge that should have a toggle option
        there is so much customization already, why not?

        • Guest

          The air dodge is fine, to appeal to Melee players they would need a Melee’s speed and advance techs toggle option but that’s never going to happen, I think the new smash looks fine and I’m sure it will make me forget about melee.

  • Sakurai is so full of it. He makes it seem as if novice/casual players play against experienced players. And that is not the case at all. You will never find these two kinds of people playing in the same room. People who play the game casually and just for fun will never face off against a tournament player.

    When I started playing SSB I was never into competitive play and therefore I never played with competitive players. I enjoyed SSB64 and Melee as a casual first and later as a more competitive player. My point is that a game like Melee wasn’t too hardcore. Sakurai doesn’t have to dumb it down for novice players. Novice players play at their own pace. It depends on how you want to play it which frankly is the beauty of the SSB series.

    I will agree, however, Melee’s speed was a bit too fast, but Brawl was just plain slow. And the floaty physics made it worst. So it is ok to find a speed between these two games.

    • Guest

      I’m a competitive player, I always assisted to all the local tournaments and a group of my friends always came over to my house and we played Smash, Mario kart and Mario party 2, counting me we were 3 tournament players and 4 casual players, so I think you’re exaggerating a bit on the Casuals never play against experienced players, of course they do, but otherwise I agree on the rest, Melee was hardcore but not too much hardcore that a casual couldn’t enjoy it and yes, a speed between the two is good, and from the smash wii u demo it seems that the speed is just right.

      • Oh I know, I used to play with my sister and brother-in-law who are casual players. Maybe I didn’t chose my words correctly. But what I meant to say is that if hardcore players play with casual players, we usually play Free-for-Alls with items. Just for fun. We don’t go 1v1, no items against a casual player. At least I don’t know anyone who does. Neither the casual player nor the hardcore player is going to have fun that way.

        • hallucinogenius

          It’s not just about being in the same room anymore though. If you play online, even if all items are on and you’re playing with 3 other people, the experienced competitive player is going to smack everyone. Now, I’m not defending dumbing down Melee, advanced techs are more or less fine by me, but the speed was a tad too high imo. I know not everyone is going to be happy, but from what I’ve played at Smash Fest it’s a pretty good balance, especially when you consider that Sakurai aimed to make a game series geared toward non-competitive players.

          • Yeah. I don’t mind the speed being in-between Melee and Brawl. Seems ok. And the “advance techs”, I don’t mind being gone either. Even without them, you can still play competitively. And if it is for the sake of balance too, so be it.

  • Daniel

    Personally i don’t mind the speed in the next smash, faster then brawl but slower then Melee but hey i loved both games for what they are so i’m going to enjoy this one!

    I also had an idea because you know for some gamers it might feel slow so maybe in the options they can let you change the speed like “normal speed” and “turbo speed” like capcom used to do back in the day around late 90’s to early 2000’s…could please all sides.

  • Siro SSBM

    Melee has the duality of being a hardcore and casual game. -.-

  • SparkRaid

    It’s impossible at this point to please everyone. So whatever game they put out I’ll enjoy. I still like Brawl despite people complaining about it. Melee is fun but still has some annoying things about it. I play either game depending on my mood. I just hope that SSB4 will be just as fun as the other 3 games.

    • Austin

      What’s annoying about it? If it’s learning the advanced tech, you don’t have to do that. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Honestly, look at how well Melee was received. That was able to please everyone.

      • I agree. I never heard any casual player complain Melee was too difficult for them.

      • SparkRaid

        I’m not referring to casual vs. hardcore. I meant things like not being able to turn off tap jump in Melee and the fact that I can’t use C stick in adventure mode.

  • Dong Lee

    tl;dr sm4sh was not made specifically for noobs/we must re-focus attention to casuals……

  • ShakerSilver

    What is he talking about? Melee having harder controls? It’s the exact same controls as Brawl! Unless he’s talking about Advanced Techniques, in which case I’d say Brawl had a lot more obtuse shit like DACUS and pivot grabs, compared to wavedashing and L-cancelling (a feature from 64). Hell, tourney players don’t even want more advanced techniques. The whole appeal of Smash and why Melee’s tourney scene grew to be so big was because of it’s low entry barrier. ANYONE could pick it up and compete.

    I don’t understand his reasoning that appealing to casuals who will drop the game in a month or two will make the game last longer as opposed to appealing to your core fans that will play the game for years to come.

  • pickle973

    Wow! Quite a few Melee diehards in the comment section. Don’t get me wrong, I played the mess out of that game when I was young and I admire what the Project Melee guys did to Brawl to make it more enjoyable for the competitive crowd, but I agree with Sakurai when he says how Melee’s controls were complicated, tired players hands, and basically ended up becoming the thing he DIDN’T want which was a hardcore competitive game that’s not beginner friendly for those looking to get into these types of games.
    To this day, while I can wavedash and L-Cancel somewhat, its still a matter of luck on my end as either the game recognizes my input (and take into consideration Melee has some tiny input frames) or it doesn’t and I find myself mashing buttons like an idiot! One good thing I can say about Brawl is that it did its job perfectly at introducing new players to smash bros, but it goes without saying the game shat on the competitive crowd due to atrocious design choices like tripping, acting out of hitstun, etc.
    Thankfully this time, it seems the man has learned from his mistakes with not only Brawl, but even Melee which admittedly is not without flaws despite what some diehard fans would insinuate about the game. As a long time smash bros fan who loved the competitive edge of Melee and the beginner friendly pace of Brawl (but not much else for said game) who has also been following 4’s development closely and has had the chance to try out a demo for 4, I can honestly say that Sakurai is a man of his word when he talks about finding that sweetspot between novice and hardcore gamers.

  • Dexterino

    I love you Sakurai. #delicioushardcoreplayertears #maybenexttime #sakuraiwins

    • Budgiecat


      • Dexterino

        Looks like you’re mad kid.

      • Bugdiecat

        you’re gay

  • hallucinogenius

    My sentiments exactly.

  • bartonzok

    Absolutely right Sakurai. The main issue of fighting games is the excecutional and mental gap players need to cross in order experience the beauty of fighting games. Its hard work but the payout, as sakurai said, is unbelievable. However, the wait can be unbearable and that complexity can detract a lot of people and for more people to experience fighters to their best potential, they have to be entertained, which a lot of good and deep fighters lack. The inexperienced player should not be ignored, but i dont think hardcore players should feel the sting because of it. I mean for what melee was worth it was a great casual experience. It wasnt the controls or physics that made brawl better in terms of casual play. It was the duversified characters, more stages, custom stages, more creative modes that made the game popular in that regard. If melee had the same thing brawl did in terms of content, the game would of had been better casually. To be honest, Smash Bros should be a game that embraces both novices and tournament goers equally. Hardcore players like complex mechanics and melee has proven that the smash series can have that despite being a simplistic game on the surface. To combat this, all that is needed is a very sound tutorial mode. Blazblue Chronophantasma is a perfect example as it features a well rounded tutorial mode that is appropriate for people that not only havent played blazblue before but for those who barely play fighters. Any player can understand the complex mechanics. Why? Because it is contextualized for novices to understand. If Smash Bros had this, the complexities of the game wouldnt be that difficult to grasp. When this is done all you have to do is add sweet features and gamemodes to entice casuals and throw out the pressure of serious play. As much as I love Sakurai and his design philosophies, I have to say that hes taking a very linear approach to this.

  • Tony Ly

    I think people are forgetting that he wants the casual players to continuously keep playing the game for a long period of time, which is why he’s trying to make an in between brawl and melee. If the game has a bunch of competitive aspects to it then yes casuals will still buy it but once they see how the game can get so advance, then it’s an easy way to discourage them to continue if they aren’t competitive people.

    overall the game does need depth for it to be good and worth the purchase. This game really needs to push the wii u sales for the company to really survive and to be able to produce something better later on. So i just hope sakurai has just made the game well enough appeal to both groups. Especially since most of the people that give feed back are just those that enjoy melee and not brawl. And when I think about it the competitive group of people is much smaller than the overall group that play smash bros so I can understand sakurai when he mentions he wants to hear the less vocal group.

  • Pokepen

    I said LOL at this when you said that your hands tired when you tried AT’s, and how inconsistent and cheesy your tech is

  • brett

    Sakurai is a f***ing idiot. This whole “appealing to general audiences” idea will be nintendo ‘ s downfall. Were the original mario and Zelda games made for general audiences? Have you folks played those games? Nintendo became a household by making complicated, intricate, and downright difficult video games. I’ve spent countless hours playing smash 4 and melee and honestly smash 4 is a gigantic letdown. Nintendo literally has only a couple of franchises keeping it relavant. It’s sad because melee is one of the best fighting games ever made (hell it’s still being played competitively after 15 years). Tekken and street fighter franchises survive by keeping their core game intact, not changing it every few years. This is why i havent bought a nintendo console since the gamecube. Put a real controller in my hand, give me some good graphics, and give me the game I want to play (a real melee sequel) or I’m just gonna stand by and watch your company go bankrupt Nintendo.

  • TheGuy WhoWentThere

    “Melee was a mistake”

    – Masahiro Sakurai

    Getting the shirt made now, and wearing it to every smash tourney, regardless of which version is being played from here onward.

    • AquaBat

      This article is a year old.

      • TheGuy WhoWentThere

        the point still stands today.

        • AquaBat

          The point that you don’t like Melee? Okey-dokey then. Doesn’t change the fact that you posted on an article that’s a year old for absolutely no reason.

  • i knew it. melee was a complete mess with stupid glitches and terrible recovery system. it was made to be fun, not competitive

Related Game Info

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U boxart

Platform: 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Release date: October 3rd 2014 (3DS), Nov. 21, 2014 (Wii U)
OWN IT: 48 [I own this game]
BEAT IT: 24 [I beat this game]
Buy now