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Sakurai Says Future Smash Bros. Games Will Need to Grow Beyond Him

Future games will need a bigger roster… behind the scenes, at least.


Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Super Smash Bros., said in an interview with The Verge that, after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, new games in the series will need to broaden their behind-the-scenes vision.

“I’ve been doing too much of the work myself, so I’d need to resolve that, too. The current Super Smash Bros. has too much of my personality poured into it. In order for a long-time series to continue thriving today, we need to think about eliminating the series’ dependence on just one person’s vision,” Sakurai said.

“Of course, this is the way it is now because we weren’t successful in splitting the vision between multiple people before. This would be a challenge for the future and something that needs to be discussed with Nintendo, if there were to be a next installment in the Super Smash Bros. series.”

There is certainly precedent for that kind of evolution in the games industry. Shigeru Miyamoto, the legendary game designer who served as director on the Mario and Zelda games, has moved into a more advisory role on recent entries. Outside of Nintendo, Sony’s Santa Monica Studio has shuffled directors up between entries. Corey Barlog, who directed 2018’s series reboot, has handed the reins to Eric Williams for the upcoming God of War Ragnarok.

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In the past, Sakurai has speculated over whether the series could continue without his involvement. In November, he told Famitsu, "I currently don’t see a path where Smash can be produced without myself. Honestly, we did actually try leaving it to someone else, but it didn't go well." But, for now, at least, the longtime series lead is taking a break.

Elsewhere in the interview, Sakurai said that adding new DLC fighters to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate required more work than adding characters to the initial roster.

“You may have already noticed, but DLC fighters tend to be more uniquely made compared to standard fighters on the roster. Some sort of new in-game system is implemented, their Final Smash is accompanied by a visual sequence, they have a relatively elaborate stage setup and guests, and their battle tactics and in-game systems clearly set them apart from other existing fighters,” Sakurai said.

“Fans are paying extra for these additional characters, so we tell ourselves that we need to strive and do our best to deliver content that is more than worthy. Given that, adding one piece of DLC fighter and their accompanying stages, music, and other content proved to be a greater challenge than adding one piece of content in the base game.”

Over the past three years, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has earned its hyperbolic title. With a roster of 82 characters from dozens of series (and many more Mii costumes), it’s difficult to imagine Nintendo topping it -- at least in terms of quantity. In fact, Sakurai suggested that future games might well pare down number of available fighters.

“I think we’ve reached the limit, at least in terms of volume of content and fighters. Basically, if I were to have the opportunity to work on another Super Smash Bros. game, that means we would have to shrink the roster,” Sakurai said, “but we need to think about whether fans would be pleased about that.”

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