Sakurai talks about trying to keep Smash Bros. fresh with new fighters
Last week, Nintendo brought out the final DLC characters in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. Director Masahiro Sakurai gets reflective in his Famitsu column with development having wrapped up. His piece is about exhaustion and stimulation. Based on what’s written, it seems to refer to a cycle with continuous updates, where a game starts being exciting, but over time people may get a little bored (exhausted), and that’s when the development staff have to think about new things (schemes) and implement them into the game so that it becomes exciting again (stimulant).
Sakurai starts off by touching on Smash Bros. DLC just slightly. Aside from Lucas and Roy – who have been represented in Smash before – the DLC characters were made to offer unique gameplay. Sakurai refers to Corrin with his transformation and super range as well as Bayonetta who makes use of special combos, gun shots, and Witch Time.
Sakurai goes to on say that the Super Smash Bros. series has a ton of different ways to play. This is supported by the data that the average play time of the games is very long. As such, there’s always major exhaustion.
When playing with up to four players, with items and free stage selection, the results will change every time so there’s little problem. But the problem is when people want to have serious battles, filtering out fighters they want to choose, thus reducing the breadth – by which Sakurai meant exhaustion is that it needs a new change. In order to insert fresh “stimulant” (what makes the game exciting, again), there needs to be new “schemes” (new features, gimmicks, etc.).
But they don’t want to be in haste. They also need to look objectively. People in society are picking only one from many available series. They don’t enjoy the same thing all the time, but they’re enjoying what comes out at that time everyday. For instance, the main themes for established series like Star Wars are always the same. But it would be bad if they change the theme, because that song is what really makes people know it’s Star Wars.
For Super Smash Bros., they don’t tamper with the basic game rules. Changing elements like making it 3D or adding more gauges might displease some fans despite the possibility of bringing new stimulus. Some people will definitely say the last one was better, especially if they’ve been clinging on to the series for many years.
Sakurai continues by noting that Super Smash Bros. is more than just creating a single game. By adding even a single fighter, that means supporting that fighter along with the game they originated from. As a result, they consider the game rule to be the “hardware”, and each fighter as “software” while creating the title.
They think of the characters to be the new stimulants themselves. That’s why each fighter can do its own things that other fighters can’t, so they stack the devising so that fights can also be established properly. Compared to other fighting games, this has heavier and harder work, so they have to give all their best.
Of course, in the end, it’s the players who actually use them, and each person has his or her own strategy. Even if users simply spam Smash Attacks, if it’s fun for them, then it’s okay. Those who want to play in that sort of style will aim for easier controls after all.