News Article

Masahiro Sakurai Outlines His Heavy Smash Bros. Workload

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"It's faster and more accurate to do it myself"

It's been highlighted in the past that not only is Masahiro Sakurai keen to implement his own vision and high standards, but that he's a particularly hard working individual. In fact early this year he highlighted how an arm injury was impacting his work, but that he was nevertheless persevering.

One message that is consistently shared by Sakurai-san when discussing work on the new Super Smash Bros. titles on Wii U and 3DS is his determination to oversee key elements himself, in particular the physics, balancing and move-sets of characters. That's been emphasized again in the director's Weekly Famitsu article, as translated by Kotaku.

With the previous Smash Bros. games, I would input all the fighter specs and attack hitboxes, and with the new games I'm doing something very similar. If I were to hand over the work to someone else, it would be a full-time, multi-person designated workload.

It's faster and more accurate to do it myself than to tell someone else over and over again what to do.

Dealing with such specific details in the famous fighting series is no doubt demanding, though praise is reserved for development partner Namco Bandai and the tools it's made available, making the process relatively quicker and easier. Despite this it's detailed that Sakurai-san can often only get down to editing work at around 10pm on a typical work day — 12 hours after starting — so he's known to go into work on a Saturday to focus on smaller details with less distractions. Despite this challenging workload, Sakurai-san remains positive.

I'm thankful to be able to work a job where I can offer enjoyment to more and more people. More than anything, it's fun to see things come together!

With that level of commitment, we can't help but be confident that the final games will be worth the wait. As we're often reminded, making games isn't easy.


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User Comments (39)



AJWolfTill said:

I know this game will be good, but will it be an advancement? I hope we get some new game modes to replace the unique subspace mode we are apparantly not getting this time round.



Jayvir said:

The fact that this game will be more balanced will instantly make it better than previous ones. I just hope they do away with cloned characters unless they are simple skins



2Sang said:

I wish they'd give him more people to do minor things like trophies and stickers



luckybreak said:

Hopefully more than just a balanced HD version of brawl. Hoping to change it up with character customization. If you are desperate to play a new smash check out project M.



AdanVC said:

Total respect to Sakurai-san. I admire all people like him who are very passionate about what they like to do the most and I'm sure the new Smash Bros is going to be the BEST!



rjejr said:

Doesnt encourage me that we'll see this game in early or mid 2014. Guess it will be next years big holiday game. Hopefully MK8 can make it out in the spring.



NintyMan said:

I admire his work ethic. Passion and commitment more often than not leads to an excellent game. I remain hopeful that these will be the best Smash Bros. games ever!



Royalblues said:

3DS version for me. This Purple handheld beast is all I play nowadays.
I hope it keeps getting good games, and eventually take the original DS's place as the best handheld console of all time.



raith said:

He's very passionate about his work, and it shows. It's a lot of work, but that's the burden of being a perfectionist. I hope after all his hard work, Iwata lets him work on a new IP, or at least one that is dormant like Kid Icarus was.



MixMasterMudkip said:

Great... but can i please have my precious Ice Climbers back now?

Disclaimer: I realize this is a lot of work for him to do, and I'm in no way ungrateful to him. While I'd be disappointed, their absence would not effect my final thought on the game. BUT THEY MUST RETURN!!!



Megumi said:

No clue how he managed to do all of this with a injured arm, but whatever. Can't wait to get this game sometime next year/'15.



Gioku said:

Pretty awesome! This guy is my hero/role model, lol. Someday I'd like to be just like him, making my own games.

SSB4 will truly be a Sakurai game.



WebHead said:

It's great that he's passionate. At the same time though, it seems as though he doesn't really trust anyone.

Either way it's gonna be one heck of a game.



KingMike said:

I thought Sakurai said he over-exerted himself making Brawl. And now he's going through it again making the next game?



Mikky said:

Sakurai reminds me a lot of... me. I'm also the type of person to reserve most of the responsibility to myself so that everything is the way I want it.



JadedGamer said:

I read the extended article on polygon. It said hes taken up residence at his workplace. He works from 10 am to sometimes 7-9 pm long after the staffers have gone home. His dedication is unparalleled. Its got to be crazy doing 2 games at the same time.But he doesnt cut corners, thats comforting



Senario said:

I will probably get the Wii U version but I hope he knows what he is doing. I want smash 4 to actually have a competitive and casual aspect. Sort of like melee. Melee was good for both and brawl was pretty bad for anything competitive. Characters were too floaty, not enough hitstun, only a few chars could chain grab(no skill required in brawl), slower characters didn't have options to fight back like they did in melee, techs were varied and inconsistent across characters and are actually glitches in brawl instead of intended.

All in all I am sure smash 4 will be fun for a short while but honestly I can see Sakurai not giving the competitive players a bone. He will get damages and hit boxes right but hitstun for combos likely won't be present at any non lethal %. Slower characters will have no real benefit for being slow and probably be punching bags. Chain grabs will probably still be char specific instead of something almost anybody can do. And air dodges being multiple completely ruins any sense of airborne combos or skill in using your air dodge wisely. After all, Sakurai sees the game as a party game and not a fighting game and he is the one who thought of tripping.



Pit-Stain said:

Poor guy. Despite his arm injury, he's working just fine for the fans, and those fans, are us. Do your best Sakurai-san, don't overdo it too much.



Dpishere said:

I know the final product will totally be worth it, thanks for all your hard work Sakurai!



Caryslan said:

@Senario Personally, I would to see all chain grabs gone in Smash 4. As someone who plays heavyweights, its unfair to be locked into a chaingrab and have no options to escape until your opponent either messes up or you get a lucky break and they trip. And even if they mess up, the damage is often severe and puts you at a disadvantage for a minimal amount of effort on their part.

Maybe the Ice Climbers can keep their chaingrab, since that's supposed to one the key things behind the gameplay of those two, but I would be very happy if all other chaingrabs were removed. The ones in Brawl were excessive, and often resulted in severe one-sided matchups. And honestly, I feel its a cheap way to win.

If chaingrabs do return, then maybe they could put a grab break or reversal system. As an example, every third throw that's chained offers the victim the chance to either reverse the throw(meaning they throw the opponent instead), or do a grab break that pushes the opponent away stopping them from finishing the chaingrab and giving the victim a chance to recover.

I really hope the throw and grab system gets a serious overhaul in Smash 4. Too many characters in Brawl were hurt by cheap chaingrabs and throws that they had no defense against.



Arminillo said:

All I got out of this is that he is directly and intentionally responsible for Meta Knight's crap.



Senario said:

@Caryslan Well that is the thing. In brawl chain grabs were broken because 1. Only a select few chars could do them and 2. They required no prediction such as falco who had a down throw that always sent the enemy straight forward.

In melee, chain grabs had to be done by reading where your opponent is moving. So if you were thrown upwards you could press a direction to drift left or right and the opponent had to predict where you would fall. Actually the fun fact about chain grabs in melee is that they were the bane of both Fox and falco due to how fast they fell. They aren't broken when the majority of the cast can do it only if the player is skilled. And honestly, Smash isn't the place for over complication with a grab break system.



HyperSonicEXE said:

Well somebody needs to at least check his work. Peer review this broken crum we got in Brawl, and the exploits that started with Melee.



Caryslan said:

@Senario Fair enough, I played Brawl alot more seriously than I ever did Melee, so I'm more used to how Brawl handled things. Brawl Style Chaingrabs were broken, and often causes horribly one-sided matchups to happen. Donkey Kong had virtually no chance against King Dedede once he got locked into the chaingrab. Now, without the Chaingrab, I've read that the Donkey Kong/ King Dedede matchup is much more even and fair.

Quick question, did Melee's chaingrabs allow you to grab soemone while they were still in hitstun and unable to tech? Because Brawl has tons of those where you can be grabbed during hitstun or while you're unable to tech or shift directions.

That is something I don't agree with. At least give a player in hitstun mercy frames where they are immune to grabs so they can tech or shift their direction. It could be only a few frames, but require the thrower to predict an oppoent. I'm not totally opposed to the concept of chaingrabs, I just don't like the ones in Brawl where someone has no chance of getting out unless there is a mistake in the chain.



CaviarMeths said:

I admire his work ethic, but it does sound a little controlling. A good leader is able to delegate.

He, along with his entire staff, probably work on Saturdays anyway though, as the Japanese work week is 6 days long.



Senario said:

@HyperSonicEXE Melee had few/no exploits. L canceling was an intended mechanic that existed in smash 64 and was better then as it canceled all the Landing lag. Wave dashing was also noticed by the devs and left in. And really was a physics thing with a directional airdodge, something that added not only Wave dashing but an interesting option for recovery. Particularly for Jigglypuff and Link who airdodged towards the stage then hookshotted.

Maybe you could call the moonwalk an exploit as that IS a glitch. But it has little competitive value besides being flashy on captain falcon.

I agree with peer review though. Brawl had zero peer review. Melee if I remember had it.



Interneto said:

"If I were to hand over the work to someone else, it would be a full-time, multi-person designated workload. It's faster and more accurate to do it myself than to tell someone else over and over again what to do."

I'm not sure if I like that approach...



Justaguest said:

He seems like someone Id hate to work with but also someone who gets things done. should be a good game



HyperSonicEXE said:

Chaingrabs and Wavedashing are the major problems. Wavedashing was more or less gone with momentum airdodges in Brawl, and chaingrabs are the same thing as Infinites and need to be managed out.

Peer review, say maybe Miyamoto or Iwata or someone with balancing experience, someone at Bamco that focuses on hitboxes and balancing, would help prevent things such as:
Marth's high priority on all attacks
Sonic's homing attack glitch
Snake's remote detonator exploit
Metaknight's flying exploit

Diddy Kong is fairly powerful, but you have to know how to use him. So I don't know if I would call him broken or not. Hard for me to judge.
Again, two heads are better than one. Whoever reviews Sakurai doesn't have to code or balance, just let him know to change something that's off.



Senario said:

@HyperSonicEXE I have already explained why chain grabs weren't a problem in Melee above and a return to that style of grab would be welcome for the competitive scene and unnoticed by the casual scene. The execution isn't easy unless the opponent is the better player by a wide margin, and they still mess up occasionally. After all, we are human. It is why Fox doesn't win tournaments often for melee, consistency issues with playing because he just has a lot going on to play him right.

EDIT: Correct me if am wrong about this but brawl had a stale moves system where moves did less damage if they were used too much right? That should be removed. Works for regular fighters where there are traditional infinites but smash has too few to vary moves when some of them aren't very good and others are staples to get kills. Example, you don't use falco's forward air or up air much in melee. And Dr mario, ganon, shiek, and capt falcon rely on their forward air to get kills.

Wave dashing I feel wasn't a major problem as it added options for everybody in terms of movement. You could do interesting things with it such as sliding off a platform to edge guard or go in for an approach. Wave dashing has existed in regular fighting games and that is where the name comes from. It added far more to the game than it hurt because characters like Roy would be unplayable without wavedashing.

I would be fine if it didn't make a return as long as airdodges are limited to one in the air. Another gripe is auto grabbing of the ledge even if you are facing away. It made things like mario's cape useless as an edge guarding tool. In general Brawl lacked depth.



Caryslan said:

@Senario Why not just return the Stale Move Negation to how it was in Smash 64 or Melee? It was in all three games, and I never heard of 64 or Melee players complaing it about too much.

I think the reason why Stale Move Negation has gotten such a bad rap is thanks to Brawl, where it was much more severe than it was in the first two games.

I don't think removing it is the best answer, since I agree with the idea of the system. It encourages a player to keep using different attacks and not just rely on a handful of moves. I say bring it back to where it was in Melee and Smash 64.

By the way, I know I'm in the minority but I liked Brawl's airdodge system. But I can see how it could be abused, so maybe some counters could be put in place to keep it controlled ? Maybe make the window of the airdodges smaller, have longer lag between airdodges, or introduce air based grabs that throw an oppoent back on stage or keeps them in the air?

Or at the very least, if they do return to Melee's airdodge system, take out the mechainc where an airdodge put a player into a helpless state. If you're forced to airdodge off stage or onstage, then allow a player to keep their jumps if they have not already used them. It would also put an edgeguarder at risk since someone could time their airdodge, and retain full control over their recovery.

Maybe a mix of Melee and Brawl's airdodge system? Have it where you only have one airdodge, but it does not put you into a helpless state like in Brawl and you retain full control over your character.



Senario said:

@Caryslan Interestingly enough, in melee chain grabs had to be executed while an enemy was in the air and slightly above ground and hadn't touched the ground. Grabbing a person who had fallen on the ground but not gotten up didn't happen.

Well you are making it too punishing to be on the offensive with edge guarding if you allow the enemy to air dodge offstage and keep their recovery. A lot of melee's airdodge system allowed you to airdodge right or up as you approached the stage to grab the ledge. It also was it's own sort of third jump due to direction. Jigglypuff used it often to recover since sing is b up. A good player knew to use their jumps first and honestly didn't need to dodge so far out from the stage usually as the opponent following them so far off the edge was potentially dangerous due to counterattacks and missing the opponent to fall to their deaths. Edge guarding was fine because it speeds up the game. And it locks the guarding player into covering only one possibility of getting back on the stage, not mentioning if they time the roll back onto the stage wrong. It happens a lot with link due to his hookshot. Oh and edge guarding stops chars with a bunch of jumps or distance for recovery instead of allowing them free reign to recover. I think a helpless state was fine since it still allowed you to drift left and right. It was punishing for spamming airdodge and slowing down gameplay.



NightmareXIV said:

I know how hard video games are to make I'm working on my own Pokémon game with a few of my friends, and it's not easy.



WaveBoy said:


It's funny, because sakura noted before that he wasn't interested in working on the next Smash unless he did something completely new, a shake up or altered the experience in some unique way. but this doesn't look to be the case, as smash bros U looks to offer a near identacle experience to Brawl with the expected new slew of weapons, characters and stages. bummer. still excited for it, but i'm a bit.....underwhelmed? ribbit.

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