In a two-parter column over the past few issues of Famitsu, Sakurai talked about changes made to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as well as why he decided to focus on bringing everyone back this time around. [Thanks, Nintendo Everything!]
Here are a couple of highlights from both articles:
On changes to the game’s core mechanics:
“First, I thought whether I should design the game’s mechanics as a new, separate entry or as an extension of past entries – the result, as you can tell, was the latter. Otherwise, size of the roster would probably be about a third of what it is now. There’s people who’ll still probably say that “the earlier entries are better,” too, of course; but while that mindset is something I should consider, I felt that “now isn’t the time to be thinking about that sort of thing.
With this game I’ve sort of upped the “tempo” – within an acceptable limit for those unfamiliar with the gameplay, of course. It’s not that the number of inexperienced players has increased since the Wii game, nor was it simply because the 3DS screen restricted movement visibility.
One example of this “tempo” would be increasing the velocity at which players now fly off the screen! You’ll still hear that familiar “whoosh!” when you fly off-screen, but the overall time it takes has been decreased – I figured that things would flow better if the animation were shorter so as to not restrain the player. I had wanted to implement this change in previous entries, but I had given up – particularly with the 3DS version – because there were too many instances where I’d lose track of where I was on-screen. Other changes include an increased jump speed, reducing the amount of skid after a landing, etc. Yet, I didn’t increase the game’s speed so much so that things would seem manic!”
On why ‘now’ is the only time Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can be made:
“I feel like this is the last time we’ll have something akin to having all previous fighters appear in one game. I can’t exactly say what the future holds, but I don’t think that something like this could happen again.
The cost of making a game like this is increasing and trying to replicate a project as big as this in the future would cost a lot of time, manpower, and money. Even if a game is just a port, there’s an incredible amount of work that goes into making it happen. Additionally, in the case of Smash Bros., we have to painstakingly go to each individual publisher to acquire their acknowledgement in order to have their characters appear in-game. If a character’s publisher requests something specific of us or puts limitations on our use, we have to acquiesce and do it right by them – no matter the cost. It’s pretty difficult to coordinate and adjust contracts; production is kind of an excruciating process! In fact, we only barely got permission for everybody that’s appearing in Ultimate!
But I get it, it’s reasonable for players to expect the roster to increase. Regardless of production circumstances, it’s relatively normal for a character from a previous entry to appear again in the next title.
For Ultimate, because the development company is the same, the know-how wasn’t reset – it isn’t like we forgot how to make a good game in between games. There’s no need to change the game’s “architecture” between handheld mode and docked mode, either. We can re-use assets from the previous game, too – things like that. All of these aspects combined was our “chance.” Everything was laid out for us, and the conditions were perfect; all we had to do was reach out and take that chance, and our wish for a game where “everyone is here” could possibly come true. If we were ever going to make a game this big, it had to be now… That was my line of thinking, and it ended up shaping how I planned the game.”
On directing games outside of Super Smash Bros.:
“Of course, there’s always that little voice inside of me that says, “I want to work on things that aren’t Smash Bros.,” and I listen to it. But even so, if it’s apparent that my games have even a little bit of personality in them and the player is able to appreciate that, then I’m grateful.
Still, it’s Nintendo that decides whether a new Smash Bros. game will be made or not. When I get that request, it’s my job to make that my top priority without thinking too much about other things. As it stands, I have a ludicrous amount of directing to do – my work is incredibly extensive, and I don’t think that’ll change any time soon! At the very least, it isn’t unreasonable to say that there won’t be another Smash Bros. for awhile after this one is finished.”
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will come out for Nintendo Switch on December 7, 2018.