Sakurai’s other interview.

Kotaku: My first question is, what is the process like for deciding which characters in aSmash Bros. game to include and which to cut from game to game?

Sakurai: First of all, in regard to cutting characters: at this point there’s nothing I can say in any official position regarding that process. But let’s go ahead and talk a little bit more about how we decided what characters to have.

Kotaku: Okay.

lol. He seems agitated.

Sakurai: The first thing is to take an idea. For example, imagine a game and characters within that game. Take a character such as the villager in Animal Crossing. The next process is think about that character’s role in their game and then the structure of the game we’re making. How do those work together with each other? What kind of interesting things can you do within the structure of the game? And then if you were to actually implement that character, how would the end result be, how it works with other elements of the game?

If by interesting, you mean creative ala Olimar, I don’t want that shit. I want to play with every character with out need to change up my tactics too much. Every character should have decent offensive capabilities. Otherwise, you wind up with Snakes, Olimars, and even Links running away from other players and having to cheap out from afar.

An important thing is that the characters stand out from one another—for instance, we might wanna be able to take characters that aren’t typically combat-based characters. So you might have a sword-based character, but other characters are not necessarily going to [have swords]. You’re not gonna wanna focus on that sort of element, just so there’s a distinction between all of the other combat-based characters.

This has been common knowledge since 64 since you only had ONE sword character.

They have to have something really unique that makes them stand apart from other characters in the game, and not limit yourself to characters that are just combat-based.

And those non-combat-based characters are not viable for a game based entirely on combat. What’s the point of adding a character to a fighting game if their gameplay is based on anything but fighting?

Kotaku: I know Mega Man is a character that has been requested for a very long time – is there something different about this game that will make it okay to bring in Mega Man? Have you tried to include Mega Man before?

Sakurai: No, actually, there was never any consideration to having him in previous games, and if you think about it, there hasn’t been really a precedent for third-party characters joining other than very special cases like Sonic, during the last game. It’s something that wasn’t even possible. We’re now going into versions four and five within the series—this is only something that’s now possible.

Say what? It’s been possible since the very first game. You’re speaking as though it was technologically impossible. It was legally impossible. And infact, Inafune desperately wanted Mega Man in Brawl and was one of the other most requested characters as stated before. How was it not possible to add Mega Man but you put in Snake and Sonic both?

Kotaku: When you say four and five, do you mean the 3DS and Wii U versions? Those are separate?

Sakurai: Yeah, exactly.

Kotaku: While we bring that up, how will those versions be different?

Sakurai: Essentially between the two versions the character structure is the same, and the moves shared between the characters are the same, but the stages are entirely different. On the 3DS, we’ve taken the motif of handheld games and then on the Wii U version, featured primarily stages based on games on console.


Kotaku: And how will they be able to connect, the 3DS and Wii U version? Will I be able to play against Wii U people if I’m using the 3DS?

Sakurai: It’ll be possible, in fact, on the 3DS version there’ll be a certain degree of character customization. You can have your own personalized character that you’ll then be able to take over and move onto the Wii U version and play.

Kotaku: And you can also—on the 3DS version—play against people playing the Wii U version?

Sakurai: Actually, that’s not possible. What is possible is for you to be able to customize your character, transfer it to the Wii U, and then play there. It would be technically impossible, just because the stages are so different between the two versions, so there isn’t a situation where you have a handheld device and a console and you’re able to play at the same time. Just more of a situation where there’s integration, and [ability] to transfer data.

Again, meh. Fighting games don’t need this bullshit. But how about putting a create-a-fighter on the Pii U version instead of having this unnecessarily convoluted process? Not everyone would have a 3DS to compliment their Pii U’s.

Oh right, cheddar.

Kotaku: Back to characters, I just have one more question about the characters real quick—is there any third-party character that you’d most want to see in a Smash Bros. game?

Sakurai: I’m really sorry. If I were to answer that question, I’d get in a lot of trouble in a lot of different ways, so I can’t answer. (laughter) But I think I can say generally that there won’t be a trend of adding a lot of third-party characters. You can sort of think of Mega Man as being the special case.

Or making it up to Inafune as you did with Kojima as a form of “we’re sorry for last time. Here you go now!”

Sakurai’s lacking interest in adding 3rd party characters isn’t exactly a bad thing, but I suspect it’s not even his own desires. Seeing as Super Smash Bros is being turned into a vehicle to celebrate and advertise Nintendo’s game development history, the desire to not put in 3rd party characters equates to not wanting to give attention to other companies. Nintendo is pretty egotistical and loves to flaunt their Nintendo history at every chance they get (Nintendo Land, oh amma). Giving Metal Gear Solid and Sonic the Hedgehog more attention was probably not good business as MGS is mostly Sony’s baby. Putting in Snake would make people go “what game is he from? He seems interesting”. But alas, they would have to purchase another console to play Metal Gear Solid, because Konami rarely gives Nintendo any MGS games beyond a remake. That would draw their fans toward Sony’s consoles to play MGS. So putting in 3rd party characters is riskier to their own business. Especially since Pii U us not highly favored and Sony is getting hyped up to the heavens. Capcom hasn’t been keen on giving Nintendo any real support either, so putting in Mega Man appears risky as well, especially since Capcom is anti-Mega Man it seems. Putting in Sonic is a no brainer, however, looking at this partnership, but I suspect that gave us more X’er Nintards to deal with.

Another theory is I don’t think Nintendo wants to be fanboy-pressured into making some ultra omega cross-over game with their characters going against hundreds and thousands of other characters from the likes of Street Fighter, Final Fantasy, etc. As much bitchin Sakurai is doing about developing games, they’re more than desperate to keep 3rd party shit on the down low.

On the other hand, it might be them being bitter that 3rd parties are trying to starve them of support. 😛

Kotaku: Should people expect returning characters, should they expect most of their favorites from Brawl to come back?

Sakurai: The reality of the situation unfortunately is that there are certain limitations on the 3DS, so we’re forced into a situation where we may need to reduce some characters to a certain degree, but we’re really working hard to include as many characters as possible.

But the Pii U version is fine…. right? RIGHT!?

Actually, cut out that fucking Olimar and that damn Diddy Kong. Oh and wario and Rob too. And Game & Watch.



Sakurai: As the creator of Kirby, there may have been instances when people thought ohh I made Kirby stronger because I have a preference for him, so I definitely avoid trying to give any sort of preference, and especially even mentioning anything to anybody about—to give them the idea that I like somebody more than the others.



Kotaku: Interesting, that’s very interesting. And I wanna talk a bit more about balancing characters later. But a lot of people asked—when I took questions from readers—a lot of people asked, they all want to know: will tripping be back?

Sakurai: To answer quite frankly, it will not return.

See that, Miyamoto? Aonuma? At least one of your asshole developers has the capacity to listen to some complaints and REMOVE BULLSHIT!

Kotaku: Okay. People will be very happy to hear that. I also wanted to ask—obviously with the Wii U we have the GamePad screen, and I wanted to ask you: is there anything cool or unique or interesting you can do with that gamepad for a game like Super Smash Bros.?

Sakurai: Actually, I’m not really planning anything that really pushes the GamePad in super-weird directions, just because everyone has their own special preference of what controller they like to use. You would end up in a situation where you have some unbalance in the controls, or in the playing field, so nothing that is super unique and contributes to controls.

Wow, I may have to apologize for calling you an asshole. This is how a developer is supposed to think.

Wish I could say the same for Sonic’s Lost Mind.

Kotaku: To switch gears a little bit, how much do you follow the competitive scene, competitive Smash Bros.? There’s a big US community, I don’t know if there’s a community in Japan also, but do you follow that competitive Smash Bros. scene?

Oh this should be good.

Sakurai: In Japan, there’s actually a tournament scene, and it’s an annual thing… that’s something that just wrapped up, actually. It sort of reached its peak, and then now with anticipation for the next title, it’s sort of on hiatus. I imagine that will pick up again on release of the new games, but that’s something that personally I’m not involved in. It’s something that Nintendo manages. Personally, I can’t really say too much about that.

Yeah right.

Kotaku: Do you ever talk to the high-level competitive players when you’re balancing Smash Bros.?

Sakurai: Mostly I don’t incorporate feedback like that. Basically, Smash Bros. is designed to be sort of targeted at the center, intermediate players, and if you think of sort of a skill graph or something where if you’re targeting just the peak of that performance level, you’re targeting a very small group of people. We wanna avoid a situation where it becomes a game sort of like other competitive fighting games, where it’s only apreciated by a very small, passionate group of sort of maniac players. We definitely don’t want that sort of situation. It’s supposed to be a fun game for a wide variety of people.

It’s ALWAYS been a fun game for a wide variety of people. Melee was, at least. Fucking up Brawl did nothing but alienate far more people than you could imagine. It’s practically universal that everyone prefers Melee over Brawl. It’s technically and objectively the better game in every way. But at the same time, it was the most accessible fighting game on the face of the Earth. Anyone could play Melee. Even my old ass uncle who doesn’t play fighting games would get into the game, go Ganon, and rape people. That’s how great Ganon was. He despises Brawl for ruining Ganon.


If my Uncle cannot be pleased by SSB4 by making Ganon tight again, you have failed him as you have failed me! All in your insatiable desire to exclude a certain group of gamers from the game!


I do like that “Maniac Players” insult. It’s an accurate description considering the level of insanity that Smash Boards and especially SRK exhibit.

Kotaku: Could you talk a little bit about how you balance it out, because there’s so much going on in Smash Bros.—how do you make it so each character is as strong as the others?

Sakurai: In regards to overall game balance, what we do is we use sort of this monitor playtest where we set up players of a certain level to play highly-skilled players in an arena. For example, an arena just with maybe a single platform and we watch them fight over a certain amount of time and view video from that and decide at a high level how to make adjustments to that for the base.

Smash Bros. is all about position….

Blah blah blah. Brawl is NOT balanced. At all. Meta Knight, Pit, and Snake dominate that game and half the roster is unplayable tripe. Soul Calibur 2 was more balanced than that clusterfuck, even with Nightmare and Raphael destroying everyone.

Kotaku: It seems like that must be very difficult, to take all those factors into account. How do you manage to make each character still feel strong and still feel like they can be competitive with the rest of the characters, even with all those positional factors?

Sakurai: Yeah, if it was just a flat playing surface, it would be one thing, and you could determine pretty quickly which was the stronger character. But given the circumstances of the series, and there are so many factors, it comes down to a quite simple process, where you give characters a special—something special that no other character has. A special technique. And at the same time, as that ratchets up their strength, you also have to take something away, so it becomes a sort of game of checks and balances where you’re adding and removing.

So why aren’t Yoshi, Link, Samus and the like viable characters to use? You’re better off using none of the veteran characters aside from Pikachu and Zelda. I forgot Mario was in this game, he sucks so much now.

I mean, this game was so unbalanced, people went and HACKED the damn game to balance it for you. How fucked is your life?

Luckily enough, Ganon sucks less than the rest.

Kotaku: Ah. Could we talk about the Final Smash, will it still work like it did in Brawl?

Sakurai: So, yes, the Smash Balls will be included, and each character will have a Final Smash.

Essentially, the incorporation of the Smash Balls and the Final Smash was something to accommodate, or to counter a situation where in a game you’d have a strong player and without those things, you would have a situation where clearly always the strong players would come on top. And so we wanted to add a little bit of some accidental or random elements to help sort of narrow the possibility of who would come out on top in a match. And so our opinion on it was that it sort of helps balance the game. Of course, hardcore players might take issue with it, so that’s why we decided to make it an option you can turn on or off.

That goes along with thinking about how I think each player should be able to customize the experience so we can accommodate different play styles. It’s very important for me for everybody to have the play experience that they want. It’s also very important for me to be able to accommodate the opinions of the most passionate players, of course, which tend to be the more advanced players.

Again, good. Sakurai is probably the only nintendo dev that takes into account different play preferences.

But I should’ve known Smash balls were implemented to balance the game. I hate shit like this in fighting games. Some universal crap was put in to balance out the devs crap skills in their rosters. It’s like the parries and Guard Impacts of SF3 and Soul Calibur respectively.

Kotaku: Do you feel like there were flaws or weaknesses in Smash Bros. Brawl that you want to make better, or fix, or learn from for the new Smash Bros. games?

Sakurai: I would consider the changes that we’re making this time around not as fixes, but that we’re changing the direction. And so the vision for the overall balance of the game inSmash Bros. Melee, it was sort of more focused towards more hardcore players. Then when it came around to making Brawl, this was a game that was targeting a Wii audience where there were a lot of beginner players, so it sort of leaned a little bit more in that direction. So now, for this time around, we’re sort of aiming for something that is in between those as far as the speed of the game. Because I don’t really think this time we’re in a situation where we’re trying to accommodate that many new players like we did last time.

What… the…. fuck!?

So tripping was removed not because people hated it, but because you want all the games to feel unique?

So that means…

64: badass

Melee: Ultimate

Brawl: Shit

4: Ultimate Shit?

And where is he getting this idea that Melee was geared more toward hardcore players!? The internet!? Just because the Maniac Players found exploits in your precious game code doesn’t mean the game was made for them. They just redefined it for themselves. Most of us played normally. AND NO ONE COMPLAINED!

Sakurai has some truly fucked up misconceptions about Melee. Melee is not hardcore. It appealed to EVERYONE. It was mass market, bitch! There is nothing hardcore about Melee. Finding exploits does not make it hardcore.

I’m starting to think he lied about being some champion Street Fighter 2 player.