Director Masahiro Sakurai has always placed a great deal of importance on balancing games in the Super Smash Bros. series, and he won’t be making any exceptions for the upcoming Wii U and 3DS game. In this week’s issue of Famitsu, Sakurai talks about the importance of balance in his feature column.
“Now that Sunday’s day off is past, I’m currently working on the character adjustment for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U,” says Sakurai. “At the moment, Bowser is very strong. He’s really strong. Fans of Smash Bros. probably never saw him as too much of a strong character, but this time, his ability to knock others out is very strong!”
Sakurai goes on to mention that Bowser’s Smash attacks, special attacks, and aerial attacks now have quite the ability to send opponents flying through the air, and the best part about this is that it feels great. This great feeling is what he’d like to focus on for the upcoming Smash Bros. game, and is putting more care into that part of the game than ever.
However, having strong attacks are also something that must be carefully balanced, Sakurai says, as it may feel unfair to opponents if they’re too overpowered. So, to meet the right standards, Sakurai and the rest of the development team have been spending a lot of time adjusting stronger attacks to see what works best.
“Doing things like simply ‘lowering the performance’ can make games lose its fun,” says Sakurai. “Additionally, making a strong attack weaker can take away from the ‘good feeling’. By making adjustments that get rid of all advantages and disadvantages, it can turn a game into a mediocre one without any challenge.”
According to Sakurai, this is something you can feel while playing other competitive games. He compares it to the depth of working on an RPG title, where there’s a lot of things that are taken into consideration, such as obstacles and what players need to do in order to clear certain areas. Simply making enemies stronger or weaker doesn’t solve the problem.
“Rather than directly weakening an attack’s advantageous parts, we’re putting effort into keeping them strong, while adding other weaknesses to them,” Sakurai explains. “Like giving the attacks punishable openings, or weakening the character’s mobility or recovery rate. We’re making comprehensive adjustments to characters, even for parts that might seem completely irrelevant.”
Sakurai also talks about the difficulty in adjusting balances for things such as four player free-for-alls and 1-on-1 fights, as their circumstances are completely different. This can’t be helped at times, he says. For example, some attacks such as Captain Falcon’s “Falcon Punch” might work well when there’s more players, but might not ever hit during a 1-on-1 fight.
“The game balance of Super Smash Bros. Brawl started six years before its release, and it most likely goes back even further during its time of development, and it’s never been reformed even through the updates afterwards,” says Sakurai. “We’re at a stage where we’d like to release the new title as soon as possible, and offer something more enjoyable than ever.”