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Masahiro Sakurai On How Super Smash Bros. Is Being Balanced

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During a Q&A session on Super Smash Bros. at E3 this evening, director Masahiro Sakurai discussed how the development team goes about balancing the game.

 

Explaining how balancing works is difficult, Sakurai said, explaining that he’s responsible for the changes in the way the different characters play in the game. When developing Super Smash Bros. Brawl, it was too much work for one person to manage alone. The team had four people to go in and do grading and give feedback on the different characters.

 

As a result of this feedback, changes were made to various characters. However, Sakurai says, playstyles and opinions became a part of the game’s balance, and this process just wasn’t as clear as it should have been. So now, with Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, there are 12 people testing and providing feedback, rather than just four like in the case of Brawl.

 

This doesn’t mean character balance will be 100% perfect, Sakurai added. Even with 12 people providing feedback, trends will emerge and luck plays a factor, too.

 

Sakurai went on to note the importance of not catering to one specific audience while developing a Super Smash Bros. game. Doing so would definitely make developing and balancing the game easier, but it would also reduce the number of people that would play and enjoy the game.

 

One of the goals for Super Smash Bros. is that it’s a party game—Nintendo want people to pick it up and have fun together. This is why “For Fun” and “For Glory” modes are separated within the game, to allow for both competitive and casual players to enjoy themselves.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.