Kid Icarus: Uprising Studio Closed (But Wait, There’s More!)

By Ishaan . July 10, 2012 . 9:12pm

Kid Icarus: Uprising studio, Project Sora, has been closed, reports. The studio’s official website states that it was closed as of June 30th, and that the website will go down on July 31st. This is a little more complicated than it seems at first, so here’s the situation as we understand it.


After Super Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, left the employ of Nintendo subsidiary, HAL Laboratory, he established his own company, called Sora Ltd., in 2005. Sora Ltd. isn’t actually a development studio—from what we understand, it’s Sakurai’s design firm that works in collaboration with other development studios, similar to Hironobu Sakaguchi’s studio, Mistwalker. Whether or not Sora Ltd. has any actual employees beyond just Sakurai himself is unknown.


For the development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, Sora Ltd. worked in collaboration with Grandia studio, Game Arts, Monolith Soft, and others, with Sakurai acting as the game’s director.


Then, following the completion of Brawl, Sakurai, together with Nintendo, established a studio named “Project Sora”. While Sora Ltd. was Sakurai’s own company, Project Sora was established as a Nintendo subsidiary, and was even listed as such in the company’s annual report.


Project Sora then went on to develop Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS, but if you check the game’s credits and website, it lists Nintendo and Sora Ltd. (Sakurai’s company, not Project Sora) in the copyright information. This emphasizes that Sora Ltd.—ie; Sakurai—was acting as the development lead for this game as well, with “Project Sora” simply being a Nintendo-owned studio contracted for the actual development of the game.


Nintendo and Sakurai originally intended to expand the Project Sora studio in order to develop the next Super Smash Bros. games for the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, with existing members from that studio working on both games alongside new hires.


However, that plan has clearly changed, since the Project Sora studio is no more and Namco Bandai are developing the next Super Smash Bros. in collaboration with Sakurai.


That having been said, Sora Ltd. (ie; Sakurai) still appears to be around. As always, Sakurai will be leading development of the new Smash Bros. games, and Nintendo even released a photograph of him alongside the announcement last month, with the Sora Ltd. logo in the picture (right).


The only question that remains now is why “Project Sora” was closed down by Nintendo and what will happen to the workers that were employed at the studio. Nintendo have yet to comment on the situation, but we’ll keep you updated as we learn more.

  • Herok♞

    This is really sad news KI:U is my favorite 3ds game.

  • Carlito Cabada Jr

    I wish the coverage on this was as comprehensive as what’s written here. Totally got ahead of myself elsewhere and started worrying about Sakurai’s status and a Namco “takeover”.

    • Yeah, this is a complex situation. There’s no telling why Nintendo closed down Project Sora. Perhaps they simply felt they didn’t need another development studio since they could simply partner with third-parties like Namco for Smash Bros.

      The question is what happened to Project Sora’s employees. Iwata doesn’t strike me as the type to throw people under the bus, so hopefully, they were offered positions at existing Nintendo studios/teams.

  • Code

    Kind of a curious announcement, but it makes more sense I guess when you understand the dynamic between Sora Ltd. and Project Sora the studio. Since Project no longer has any projects in the works, and Sora Ltd. is lending it’s talent to Namco Bandai for the time being, it makes sense that they’d close their doors for the time being.

    Not that it’s a great feeling since a lot of people will be outta work. But since Sora Ltd. as an organization still exists, they may restart a new studio down the line, when new projects are acquired. It’s likely a case of Sora Ltd. trying to be cost effective, and maintain a certain size, without over extending itself.

    • That’s pretty much what it sound like, yeah.

  • z_merquise

    Man, I really love Kid Icarus: Uprising so it was sad that the team behind that game disbanded.

    I hope it’s okay for me to ask this, is Project Sora similar to Capcom’s Clover Studios? An independent/subsidiary studio composed of internal employees of the parent company?

    • No, Project Sora was established by Nintendo and was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nintendo with different employees, as far as I’m aware. Sora Ltd. (aka Sakurai) is an independent “company” that works with Nintendo, but isn’t owned by them. 

      Sakurai and Iwata just happen to be really good friends with a long history together. The two of them created the prototype for the original Smash Bros. and Iwata was Sakurai’s boss at HAL. They’ve had a long-standing working relationship, which is why Sakurai is afforded so much freedom and trust.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Funny, we were just talking about the distinction between Project Sora and Sora Ltd. when Smash Bros. got announced.

    Really sucks that they got closed down since Uprising was apparently really good (and surprisingly successful to boot). I hope the employees are all able to find work elsewhere (would be lovely to have them all at Nintendo, but that probably won’t happen). Moreover, I’m kinda sad that we won’t see such a talented team working on more projects with Sakurai. Lord knows what he had planned for them after Namco got to work on Smash Bros. Would’ve been interesting. So, yea, I’m hoping Nintendo found them spots at their other studios.

  • Arrei

    Perhaps this means Project Sora itself is comprised entirely of Nintendo employees who were only put into a team to work with Sakurai, and are now absorbed back into Nintendo as a whole? Since only Nintendo and Sora Ltd. show up in the credits.

  • Suicunesol

    Personally, I’m not sure this is a big deal. Project Sora was a studio wholly owned, created, and destroyed by Nintendo. It’s essentially a slice of Nintendo itself that was named and designed specifically to develop Kid Icarus, right? Now that Kid Icarus is out (and has been out for a while), Project Sora doesn’t need to exist since that was its only purpose.

    Although we don’t have the full report, I’m willing to believe that Project Sora developers have been assigned to another Nintendo studio doing new projects. Or maybe the same developers will be part of a new studio with a new name.

    Of course, a few developers were probably laid off, which is sad, but it happens when restructuring happens.

  • I think it’s similar to how some anime studios are opened solely to produce one series and disband when it ends. Do they still do that?

  • puchinri

    In the first place, I thought they initially said that Project Sora was for something that Nintendo could not do (on their own; and, that is, I thought Iwata said that). It makes sense for Sora Ltd to still be around though since that is Sakurai’s thing (and I thought there was one other developer with him there?).

    Personally, I just want to see what other titles (besides Smash, obviously) Sakurai is going to be working on.

  • kylehyde

    This issue is really strange. Many people guess that this studio was only created just for the development of kid icarus, however as you pointed, they were originally in charge of the next SMB.

    In my case i guess that the long development of KI:uprising and the constant delays of the release dates were not well perceived by the big fishes. Anyway, I hope that in the next days the issue gets clarified.

    • I don’t think delays has much to do with it. I mean, practically every Nintendo team is infamous for its delays, from the Zelda and Mario teams to Retro to Monolith. 

      The only thing I can think of is that they changed their minds about hiring a whole bunch of staff to work on Smash Bros. and decided to go with Namco instead. I mean, a game like Smash takes a lot of people to work on, and Nintendo like to keep their company lean…

  • Roberto Armando Iraheta

    I don’t really see the point of having Sora in the first place if it actually was just Sakurai himself. It now makes sense why they now have Namco working on it.

    • Arrei

      Project Sora wasn’t just Sakurai himself, it was a team put together by Nintendo with Sakurai at the wheel. Sakurai’s Sora Ltd. is his own company that may or may not be just him.

  • It’s kind of like how some artists and bands form in Jet Set Radio soundtracks: they form up to make music for the game but no longer make music beyond that because, well, they were made to make music for the game only and not for other things. Nothing to worry about if Project Sora got taken down. At least it made Kid Icarus: Uprising before it got closed. And hey, maybe the people in Project Sora were already part of Sora Ltd. so they still got jobs after the closure. :) But that’s just speculation. We’ll wait ’till Nintendo clears up this matter.

  • Doesn’t sora mean sky or flight or something? Seems like a code name for kid Icarus. Project sora was created to develop uprising. Now that its out try disbanded the team. They probably had plans to expand said screw it and brought namco bandai in to help with smash bros.

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