Kid Icarus: Uprising studio, Project Sora, has been closed, Andriasang.com 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.