Masahiro Sakurai On Making And Balancing Super Smash Bros., His Love For Video Games

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Masahiro Sakurai is a notorious workaholic but what he enjoys more than making games is actually playing them. The Smash Bros. creator shared more about himself and thoughts on gaming in an interview with The Guardian.


Here are some highlights from the interview:


Sakurai starts out by talking about his parents when he first started working on games:

Masahiro Sakurai: “They never supported me actively, there was a lot of uncertainty and fear. That said, after I worked on the Kirby games, I noticed that all of a sudden my parents had Kirby paraphernalia hanging around the house.”


On his impressive video game collection and what he was up to before becoming a game developer:

Masahiro Sakurai:“I have so many that I can’t even think about displaying them. [laughs] Nowadays I try to go for download versions, to not take up as much space … one of the biggest challenges of living in Tokyo is not having space to do anything.”


“I was striving to become an engineer, but something happened that made me think, maybe I can make games instead. There was a two-year-period in school where I would do a part-time job to make enough money to buy games, that I would play to research.”


“I went out of my way to play games I didn’t like or find interesting. Those ended up being a lot more informative for me. At home I have literally thousands of games, and I think of them as pearls of wisdom from my predecessors. Game development is very difficult. Nobody sets out to create a game that’s not fun. It’s all of the challenges and difficulties that happen throughout development that determine whether a game is a failure or a success. I think playing those thousands of games is the single best and easiest way to learn from my predecessors.”


His thoughts on the idea behind Super Smash Bros.:

Masahiro Sakurai: “I feel like it should be a dream project for anybody who is into video games! The fact that we can collaborate with all these different people and characters and meld that all together without any inconsistencies is something I am very proud of.”


On balancing for casual players and competitive or professional players:

Masahiro Sakurai: “If we were to lean towards one kind of player or the other … game development would be easier, but forgoing the pros, or forgoing the beginners, wouldn’t result in Smash as it is now, and that’s something I hold dear and important.”


“In the arcades, when I was younger, there was a game called King of Fighters 95, and I thought I was pretty good. I had a 50-strong win streak on Street Fighter 2 around that time. So I was playing King of Fighters once – and the way arcades are set up in Japan, you can’t really see the person you’re playing against, because you’re on opposite sides of the cabinet. I was feeling pleased with myself because I was winning, and it turned out to be a total beginner with their partner, just trying to have fun, and I thought, ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t have beaten them so badly. Now they’re going to feel like they never want to play it again!’ It’s important to think about the beginner crowd.”


On the Smash community:

Masahiro Sakurai: “I realise that this is a game that lends itself to creating community. That’s something I’ve been aware of since the initial iteration on N64. I really want to continue to create something that doesn’t break or shatter that.”


Lastly, Sakurai shared his love for games when asked whether he’d want to stay involved in game development until he retires:

Masahiro Sakurai: “I actually don’t feel that way at all! The best way to enjoy video games is to play what other people have made. But at the same time, I have a role. At this point I have been asked to create Smash and so I am doing that, and will continue to do so if the demand is there.”

“On the one hand, I play games because of my job, but on the other hand, games have this eternal, immortal attraction. Of course I do go back to old games if I need a refresher, but I think it is important to intentionally play and observe new games, to know what’s out there. Games that are coming out now are just incredible; they’re amazing. Even for people who say that they grow out of games, once they have kids and there’s a game they can play together, they return. It’s not about quitting or graduating from playing games; it’s about finding what’s enjoyable for you at that time in your life, and playing that.”


You can read the full interview here.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate releases for the Nintendo Switch on December 7, 2018. You can check out its recently revealed characters here, info on its new modes and rules here, details on its stages and music tracks here,  and a peek at an appearance from Monster Hunter’s Rathalos as a boss and Assist Trophy here.

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Gamer, avid hockey fan, and firm believer in the heart of the cards.