Smash Bros. Creator’s Ailing Right Arm Affecting Development

By Ishaan . February 27, 2013 . 7:00pm

Last month, Super Smash Bros. creator, Masahiro Sakurai, reported an ailment in his right arm, which he said was interfering with work (Sakurai is currently working on the next Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U).


This week, he provided a follow-up report in Famitsu, summarized by Polygon.


“Not only am I getting calcific tendonitis, but they’ve also found what are apparently several ruptures in the muscles,” Sakurai wrote. “My upper arm hurts, and there’s this chronic dull pain in my elbow joint as well. On the lower arm, there’s this feeling of fatigue around the flexor muscles that turns into pain when I use a keyboard or game controller with my fingers.”


Sakurai says there’s no quick cure for the ailment. The only real solution is for him to avoid using his right arm and hand, and give them time to heal, which is what Sakurai is trying to do to the best of his ability. He mentions brushing, eating, and using a trackball with his left hand instead of his right.


An ailment as severe as this one isn’t conducive to developing a high-profile videogame like Smash Bros., and Sakurai confirms that he’s having to cut extra days—which would normally be off days—out of his work schedule. The pain is also making it harder for him to do playtesting work on the game.


“Still, now I realize how important it is to have your health,” Sakurai writes. “I’m glad I’m still in good enough shape to work.”


Read more stories about & & & on Siliconera.

  • Solomon_Kano

    Come on, Sakurai! I want Smash Bros. — bad, too — but not at the expense of your health.

    It’s great that the guy’s trying to work through his pain to make sure the game turns out well, but this is too much. I’d rather see the game delayed (not that it has a release date yet, anyway) than hear about Sakurai working like this.

    Get well, Sakurai!

    • Randgriz

      My sentiments exactly!

    • Makes me think of the Kannagi series all over again v.v

  • MrRobbyM

    I wish him the best and a speedy recovery. Nothing is worth risking one’s health for!…That and I just recently bought Brawl. Sue me.

  • Ixbran

    I hope is able to recover soon. Really he shouldn’t push him self so hard if it results in physical pain.

    a few weeks rest and some relaxation aught to do him good.

  • Dude needs a kitkat bar and by that I mean a break.

  • Asura

    This is because he played Kid Icarus for 3DS too much while creating it. That game destroys your wrists and arms – it is pure evil.

    • veruses

      It can’t be as bad as Metroid Prime Hunters…. or is it?

      • Ethan_Twain

        It’s a modification of that same control scheme. As far as comfort complaints, it’s the exact same thing. Especially if you had to play both of them left handed so you were using face buttons to move. Then they’re exactly the same :(

        • veruses

          Not too sure if I wanna play Kid Icarus 3DS now… I’m hoping that addon the game brings is to avoid that pain?

          • Ethan_Twain

            I’m afraid I’m the wrong guy to ask. I played both Kid Icarus and Metroid Prime Hunters in the left handed mode, and I was okay with both of them. I never did use the 3DS stand. I found a way to make it work. It’s a pity Kid Icarus came out before demos, because otherwise you could just check for free that way.

    • LittleMofreaky

      Am I the only person that holds my 3DS with my left hand and rests it on my right palm when using a stylus? How did you people ever play WarioWare????

      • Tylor Boreas Makimoto

        No, I do that too. Some people are just too hurr durr to do so ;P

        • puchinri

          I had just never thought of that, but I did get other work-arounds. I will try that one though too~! (I am so not hurr durr, by the way, shame on you good Siliconite!)

      • Never

        I used my right hand’s pinky to keep the 3DS straight.
        Pretty sure I’m the only one who did that.

      • Göran Isacson

        If I’m getting you right here- you hold the 3DS with your left hand when you move Pit around with the stick, but then you let go of the stick, grab the stylus with your left hand and rest the 3DS on your right hand instead? Is that how you play the game?

        • LittleMofreaky

          No, I hold the majority of the 3DS with my left hand which I also control the stick with, but I rest the right side of the 3DS on my right hand’s palm while my right hand’s fingers hold and control the stylus. It sounds 1000 times more complicated than it is.

          • Göran Isacson

            Gotcha- I haven’t really played this game that much, but when I did it was on one of those demo stands and I really started hurting after playing a few stages. Might try this method out if I ever buy the game, see if it helps.

    • Auvers

      I must have the wrist of a god then.

    • AJ

      I used my leg to hold the 3DS. It works, but you basically can’t play anywhere except on the couch at home, thus defeating the purpose of a portable game.

      It’s still an awesome game.

  • Sato

    Poor Sakurai… Get well soon!

  • Christopher Nunes

    Whoa, whoa, whoa! It’s great that you love to work on a game and get it done as quickly as possible and to have the highest quality to it from designing to playtesting but you got to take it easy and give yourself a break!

    Rome wasn’t built in a day you know!

    Your health is also important Sakurai-san, if you’re not healthy or around no one can do the game better than himself! Plus you won’t be there to see the fans to enjoy it or be around to play it either!

    Just relax and get some rest. Who knows? During your recuperation you might come up with new ideas as you think about the game. Take care Sakurai-san.

  • Nivans

    Hope nintendo is paying him a #^#**@ of money, because he always seems to be the last to know about a new Smash coming out. Which also makes me wonder why cant he just supervise and make others work harder/faster for him instead.

  • Suicunesol

    Well, this may seem harsh, but it seems hard to believe that the right arm of a single man will drastically affect the development of an entire game that is supposed to be being developed by multiple companies. Sakurai can’t be the only brains behind it.

    If worst comes to worst, he can always play with a Wiimote in his left hand.

    • puchinri

      I suppose that when it’s the director, it could potentially. I mean, sure everyone else is competent and can still work without him, but it also means that his pain limits a lot of the input and overseeing he can do. Also, when my grandma had tendonitis, she could barely do her work in an office setting (and would have to take days off often, which she never did), so I’m not sure how he’s working through it and how it would affect things progressing.

  • fireemblembeast

    Aww, I hope he gets better! We all have our own health problems, and even if he is famous (somewhat), he’s just another person when it comes to something like this. I hope Sakurai doesn’t put game-making before his health, as noble as it may seem…

  • Spirit Macardi

    You’ve gotta give the guy credit; even though Nintendo has brought in another entire company to help work on the game, Sakurai insists on remaining an integral force in it. He could simply sit back and let other people do the work for him while he supervises, yet he remains committed despite the detriment to his own health.

    The man has got some extreme passion for what he does.


      He needs to ensure that it’s a Brawl 2 and not a Melee 2, after all.

      • Rohan Viajar

        I think you mean the other way around? (generally from people that I know. brawl isn’t as loved as melee)

      • Never

        Because Float and Trip: The Game is so deserving of a sequel.
        I hope it’s a mix of Brawl and Melee. Just more heavily influenced by Melee.

        • s07195

          I don’t know… I found Brawl fun as a non-competitive party game. (I have played Melee before, fyi)
          Four players playing together is a whole bunch of funny, too.

  • LittleMofreaky

    love this guy

  • Jrocy247

    This man….is a trooper, so dedicated in his line of work. God Speed Sakurai….God Speed. T-T7

  • HerosLight

    You deserve the days off, Sakurai. No need to rush the game that everyone is waiting for.

  • Shadowman

    You don’t have to do much Sakurai, E3 is months away and you just have to show us much just a sneak preview of the game and a little bit of information on it and you can rest your right arm, so please sir take it easy.

  • DesmaX

    I think the guy needs a vacation.

    He’s passionate, and all, but his state can even hurt the project he’s so passionate about

  • raymk

    This guy better get a huge fucking bonus for this game, especially since he didn’t want to make another game and its one of the games that can sell a ton of wiiU’s.

  • I pray for Sakurai’s recovery.

  • Pockystix

    damn, I call out if I have a headache

    then again, I’m not making the next Smash Bros. title

    I can see why he wants to keep going to work lol

  • Cameron Ward

    we need to make a get well gift for sakurai like a list of signatures wishing him to get well!

    • puchinri

      That would be really awesome, actually~.

  • Raltrios

    After the masterpiece that was Kid Icarus: Uprising (of course, kudos to the localization team for the dialogue), I’d very much prefer that Sakurai take it easy. He deserves a break after that, and I for one won’t complain if it takes longer for him to release the next Smash because of it. I don’t want the quality to drop because he’s worried about us fans.

    That, and I don’t have a Wii or Wii U. So I can wait.

  • Sakurazaki

    I really wonder why he’s so dedicated to finish even though he knows health is important.

    I hope he’s not dying or anything…

  • Ethan_Twain

    Poor guy, what a tough spot to be in! I mean, putting myself in his shoes, this sounds awful. I’m working on the new Smash Bros, but I’m working with unfamiliar staff from this Namco Bandai company so of course I feel the need to be pretty hands on overseeing an awful lot of things myself especially here early in the development cycle before there’s really a system worked out. On top of that, Smash Bros is my most successful creation ever and of course I take the quality of the product personally. My publisher, Nintendo, is famous for demanding super high quality product also. This project is extra work too because creating a handheld version of the game is an unfamiliar challenge, as well as new online features and HD graphics.

    Other pressures include needing to 1-up Smash Bros Brawl which is one of the most fully featured games ever created, and trying to rectify complaints about the multiplayer balance and single player adventure mode in the previous installment.

    No matter how you slice it, Sakurai has a hell of a project he’s working on. And now suddenly he’s trying to do it with one arm. Dealing with all these pressures in that condition… I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes man. This sounds rough.

  • anthony apduhan

    Sakurai-kun noooo! T-T Why am I crying? Please be safe, take your time, don’t be hasty We’re worried about you I don’t care if we have to wait til 2015 or a million years for Smash 4 I don’t want him to get injured or die due to stress.

  • This is what happens when noobs try to wavedash

  • Tonton Ramos

    Sakurai please don’t be hasty on your work get well soon. Don’t let Playstation All-Stars intimidate you just because they developed a good attack range ala serious fighting games do and a serious roster doesn’t mean you do too. Don’t let them give you stress just ignore them. Smash Bros will be Smash Bros. no matter how less or or more roster. It’s still an amazing game and forever will be. Please be safe and calm down and relax…

  • Health must come first!

  • Eric Harris

    Right arm. I won’t say it.

  • Rohan Viajar

    Like my grandma says, “your health is your wealth!” :D a life is worth more than a game.

    you should take care Sakurai-san! We can be patient especially now knowing the situation. we gamers aren’t heartless :)

    The company should give you some extra days to take a break.

    • The deal would be if he accepted being told to take a break from actively doing the game. I know enough people in the indie industry who whouldn’t take a break. Some even ended up in hospitals.

      Sakurai, forget Smash Brothers and do take a vacation. I can wait for next year. Just get yourself healthy!

  • brian

    I just realized something about him.
    He has a character in Soul Hackers named after him, or this is a really SPOOKY coincidence.
    Yeah that was a lame pun.
    Also, that is pretty admirable of him.

  • KHSoraKeyBlade

    Sakurai is literally the coolest developer out there and is ridiculously committed to the job at hand.
    I wish him a speedy recovery and I will gladly wait as long as it takes to get Smash because health is the most important thing right now.
    Get well soon Sakurai!~

  • Barrylocke89

    Considering his status and background, perhaps he should take a more advisory role, at least until his arm heals up. I know that Japan has very high standards for its workers, but I’d like to thing that his team would understand, given his prior dedication.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    You really shouldn’t overwork your self Sakurai :{

  • Lilith

    Inb4 fapping jokes.

  • AuraGuyChris

    I’d do a “You must recover!” joke but I don’t want to.
    Get well, man! Show that Playstation All-Star Whatever game who’s boss!

  • puchinri

    That’s really scary. Tendonitis alone is no joke, but to have all of that combined going on can be pretty bad. As glad as I am that he’s working, I do hope he takes it easy and doesn’t push himself too hard. I’d rather have the game come way later and be worthwhile and his health not put at risk than see it sooner and know that there’s possibility it could affect his arm on the long-term.

  • British_Otaku
    • Tails the Foxhound

      Dang, I wanted to make that joke! (Seriously, Sakurai, stop doing what you’re doing. Go home.)

  • $29082171

    That’s what he gets for playing KIU using the default controls.

  • Göran Isacson

    I’m just gonna hope that he has people he feels comfortable with handing over responsibilities too… because if he keeps on working with such injuries, I don’t see any good coming from it.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos