Nintendo launched the 3DS in March, and one of the biggest criticisms leveled at the device was the absence of big-name first-party franchises available for the new device. With many of those franchises--including Mario Kart, Star Fox, Super Mario, and Kid Icarus--confirmed for release this year, the publisher said at the 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo that the Smash Bros. franchise is also en route for the 3DS and newly unveiled Wii U console.
Unfortunately, it appears as if gamers won't be seeing those new installments in the crossover 2D fighter franchise anytime soon. As part of a weekly column in Famitsu magazine (translated by 1Up), Project Sora director of software development Masahiro Sakurai confirmed that the two Smash Bros. games are still several years off.
"Right now, we're devoting all our manpower to working on Kid Icarus," Sakurai wrote. "We've got no plans whatsoever--we've got two new games out in the open when there's no extra time to work with them at all. It makes me cringe, and I'm not sure it's the smartest thing to make gamers wait for several years, but the early announcement was made chiefly in order to attract new team members."
Sakurai went on to note that while his studio was prepared to bring the Smash Bros. franchise to the 3DS, plans for the Wii U installment were a bit more impromptu.
"Project Sora had intended to make a 3DS Smash Bros. once it had finished up a game on the system and had gotten used to the hardware's feature set," he wrote. "With the advent of the Wii U, though, we had a choice to make. Iwata asked us if we wanted to make the next Smash Bros. on the Wii U or 3DS, and my thought was that we had to go on both platforms."
As for why the game will be arriving on both the 3DS and Wii U, Sakurai said that it was the best way to grow the franchise.
"If we went solely for the Wii U, the HD graphics would really bump up the visual effects, but then we'd be stuck in another arms race," he said. "If we made this game another extension over previous one, we'd have to cut out the new things we could possibly do on the 3DS hardware and compete with ourselves again over the size of the character roster and the amount of gameplay we can put it."
"It wouldn't be a fruitful competition, but doing something completely new would be difficult for many reasons, not least of which that the gamers may not be satisfied with it," he continued. "That's why we decided to think about ways to link the personal connection one has with his portable system to the gather-around-and-play aspect of console systems."
Nintendo currently expects to launch the Wii U sometime between April 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012. For more on the system, check out GameSpot's Nintendo Wii U: Inside and Out feature.