Nintendo on Smash Bros. Ultimate being a new game, Sakurai’s health, online, more
These are excerpts from a Game Informer interview with Nintendo America Bill Trinen and localization manager Nate Bihldorff…
You’re calling this a new Smash. What makes it more than a port?
Bill: My first answer is – has there ever been a port of a Smash Bros. game?
3DS and Wii U?
Bill: They were developed in tandem.
Sakurai considers them separate entries, right?
Bill: Yeah. Every Smash Bros. game is a new game. I think for me personally what really defines it as a new game is just the core change to the core mechanics. When you change the speed like that, that cascades through character motion, through the speed at which the various moves are coming out, the animations and whatnot, and you have to rebalance every character in the game, so then as a player, when you come in to start playing the game, you’re having to re-learn every character in the game. Essentially when those core mechanics are new, then the game becomes new. Then, as you saw, in addition to changing the core mechanics you’ve got characters that have new models, characters that have new moves or dramatically changed moves. Changes to even the final smashes and the speed in which those happen to match the tempo of the game and things like that. To me, overall, once you’ve changed that core mechanic, you really are looking at a new game.
How is long-time Smash director Masahiro Sakurai’s health? In the past we’ve heard that he had issues with his wrists during development.
Bill: He’s totally fine. I think he had wrist issues during the development of the Wii U game. He’s fine now. My understanding is he got over it, did some rehabilitation on it, and is in good shape.
Is this a compressed Smash Bros. development cycle? Are these guys getting pushed really hard to get this thing out in December?
Bill: No [laughs]. Well, not any harder than Mr. Sakurai always pushes himself. He throws himself into his projects. I guess it depends on how you look at it because the Wii U game launched in 2014 and this is 2018, so four year cycle.
The gap between Melee and Brawl was seven years and the gap between Brawl and Wii U was six. It feels quick.
Bill: I always look at the jump from N64 to Melee as really sort of being the biggest jump in Smash Bros. and that was actually the shortest gap between two games.
Nate: And remember, between Brawl and Wii U, he had a little game called Kid Icarus: Uprising, which was fairly large to develop.
The percentage goes to the tenth decimal point now. What is the point of that?
Nate: Core players will, I think, embrace that because I guarantee you within a week there will be a guide out there saying, “Here’s the exact percentage Mario’s forward smash does.” It’s obviously pretty meaningless to a casual player because they just want to know, “If I get hit hard, am I going out of bounds?” For those that care, it will be pretty valuable.
Can you do multiplayer locally with two Switches? Like one versus one where each player gets their own screen?
[Editor’s note: Thought Bill and Nate did not have an answer at the time, Nintendo did follow up with more details saying that while local wireless play will be available, Nintendo is not ready to offer more details than that just yet.]
Online was kind of ambiguous in the Direct. There will be online play, correct?
Nate: Yes, there will be. In the Direct, it was actually a specific reference to the Mii characters and being able to use them online, because they weren’t playable online in the past because of their custom move sets. They’re a little bit of a unique thing online. The other aspect of the Mii characters being online is they are UGC [user-generated content]. Because you could create your own Mii character, some people would occasionally put rather naughty things one their Mii characters.
And Nintendo… doesn’t like that?
Nate: Nobody likes that. [laughs] There is a level of curation involved with those things, so I think that’s the only reason Mr. Sakurai made a note of it in there. But yes, there will be online.