Masahiro Sakurai - the director and public face of the Super Smash Bros. series - is known for his tireless efforts when it comes to making video games. In a recent interview with The Guardian about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the 48-year-old Tokyo-based developer discussed how his gaming experiences growing up have had an influence on how he balances the competitive and casual aspects of Smash series over the years.
In the arcades, when I was younger, there was a game called King of Fighters 95, and I thought I was pretty good. I had a 50-strong win streak on Street Fighter 2 around that time. So I was playing King of Fighters once – and the way arcades are set up in Japan, you can’t really see the person you’re playing against, because you’re on opposite sides of the cabinet. I was feeling pleased with myself because I was winning, and it turned out to be a total beginner with their partner, just trying to have fun, and I thought, ‘Oh no, I shouldn’t have beaten them so badly. Now they’re going to feel like they never want to play it again!’ It’s important to think about the beginner crowd.
Sakurai has taken his arcade days into account during the development of the Super Smash Bros. games - acknowledging how competitive players and newcomers alike have helped transform the series into what it is today and grow the community:
If we were to lean towards one kind of player or the other … game development would be easier, but forgoing the pros, or forgoing the beginners, wouldn’t result in Smash as it is now, and that’s something I hold dear and important.
I realise that this is a game that lends itself to creating community. That’s something I’ve been aware of since the initial iteration on N64. I really want to continue to create something that doesn’t break or shatter that.
As much as Sakurai aims to please both types of players, he admit what he regularly thought about when watching professional Smash tournaments online:
The one thing I always think is that, if only they used more different stages and items, there’d be a lot more variety in the gameplay.
Around the time of this year's E3, Sakurai said he was cautious about focusing on top-level players, suggesting the game could become too competitive.
What do you make of Sakurai's most recent comments about the Super Smash Bros. series? Do you like a game accessible to all types of players, or would you prefer an ultra-competitive fighting experience? Tell us in the comments below.