Sakurai on Smash Bros. Ultimate – first proposal in December 2015, faster tempo, much more
Following the reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate last week, director Masahiro Sakurai wrote a new article for this week’s issue of Famitsu. This is one of his first columns about the new game included in the magazine.
In it, Sakurai talks about how the first proposal came about in late 2015, the game’s faster tempo, and much more. He also touched on how it was decided to build off of past mechanics, which in turn allowed for a larger roster.
We’ve prepared a full translation of the column below.
On June 13th, I released a great deal of information concerning Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. “A 2018 release, can you really manage that?” I’ve been grappling with that question for a while, but I’ve earnestly – and silently – been working to make that happen. In the December of 2015 I put forth my first proposal for the game. I was still working on the DLC for the previous Super Smash Bros. game at the time, and I wouldn’tt even get together the staff for Ultimate until later.
As most of you already know, this game’s concept is “Everyone is here!”
What that means is that you can play as any fighter – powered-up, of course – that has previously appeared in any Super Smash Bros. title – no exceptions. No matter how you look at it, it’s a good deal!
I thought I’d never have the luxury of including everybody again if I didn’t take this chance, so I pushed through. Even with the risks, Nintendo still agreed to let me do it!
That’s a story for part two, however, as we’ll be talking about some of the components that went into designing Ultimate this time.
First, I thought whether I should design the game’s mechanics as a new, separate entry or as an extension of past entries – the result, as you can tell, was the latter. Otherwise, size of the roster would probably be about a third of what it is now. There’s people who’ll still probably say that “the earlier entries are better,” too, of course; but while that mindset is something I should consider, I felt that “now isn’t the time to be thinking about that sort of thing.”
With this game I’ve sort of upped the “tempo” – within an acceptable limit for those unfamiliar with the gameplay, of course. It’s not that the number of inexperienced players has increased since the Wii game, nor was it simply because the 3DS screen restricted movement visibility.
One example of this “tempo” would be increasing the velocity at which players now fly off the screen! You’ll still hear that familiar “whoosh!” when you fly off-screen, but the overall time it takes has been decreased – I figured that things would flow better if the animation were shorter so as to not restrain the player. I had wanted to implement this change in previous entries, but I had given up – particularly with the 3DS version – because there were too many instances where I’d lose track of where I was on-screen. Other changes include an increased jump speed, reducing the amount of skid after a landing, etc. Yet, I didn’t increase the game’s speed so much so that things would seem manic!
Additionally, in one-on-one matches, the amount of damage the player inflicts on the opponent has been increased. On the other hand, four-person matches are a bit different because I felt like
it’d be better to have the damage divided up more – that gives the players more opportunities to do damage! In general, this’ll make one-on-one matches a little speedier.
The number of fighters that you can use from the beginning will be limited to those you could play as in the Nintendo 64 game. That way, the player can enjoy unlocking the characters one-by-one like in a typical fighting game; unlocking them all is a fair challenge, and some might be a little difficult, but most can be unlocked without any major difficulty. In my own experience, when I play fighting games I often quit before I’ve unlocked everybody, even if there are many that I haven’t played as. The more characters there are, I feel like it’s easier to quit without playing as them all, so I felt that simply increasing the number of characters in the roster wasn’t necessarily a good thing. But on the other hand, Super Smash Bros. is a character-based fighting game, and a lot of people look forward to fighting as their favorite character; that was a particular subject we grappled with when deciding to have everyone appear.
For example, let’s think about a racing game. In my experience, it’s a lot more fun to save up prize-money and purchase new vehicles gradually than to just have every type of car from the get-go. In that type of game, it’s easier to get attached to the cars that you buy – you’ve worked for them! So, in the case of Ultimate, we set up conditions to earn each individual fighter. Of course, in a racing game some of the conditions for getting certain cars can be a little strict – it makes having every vehicle almost unattainable, so we tried not to do that for Ultimate. In Ultimate we set up various ways to unlock characters, so the whole process should be relatively easy.
Let’s see… What else can I talk about…
In this installment, you select the stage you want to play on before you actually select your fighters. That way you can think about your fighters’ compatibility with the stage you choose and have rules like “loser chooses first” – additions that make things a bit fairer, I think. And of course, you can make all stages like “Battlefield” or “Final Destination,” that way, no matter what rules you use you can enjoy your favorite music or scenery.
The number of stages, music, and items is also at a record high! In fact, all stages and items have been improved upon and reworked a bit! There’s a lot of things like that, so it’d probably be best to watch the special E3 broadcast if you missed any!
See you next time!
Translation prepared by Nico Thaxton on behalf of Nintendo Everything.