One of the key elements of any Super Smash Bros. game is the character roster. The balancing and creativity of the roster ensure an enjoyable gameplay experience, the variety of characters draws players into making a purchase, and the usual reveals can drum up more hype ahead of release than many games could ever hope to achieve. So how exactly does this crucial part of the experience take place?
Well, series director Masahiro Sakurai recently sat down with the folks at Game Informer to chat all things Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. When asked about the game's character decision process, Sakurai mentions that all decisions are made before the game even enters development, with clear goals put in place before work begins.
It is a project after all, so we take into consideration things like labor, man-hours, the time in which the title will be sold. We decide on the fighters from the very early planning stage, and from there, we calculate and begin production. We don’t add or remove any characters during the project.
We do things like base our consideration on the results of the Smash ballot, and also balance things out so that there’s a difference in the types of fighters.
One particular example mentions Incineorar - the latest Pokémon fighter to be added to the group. Apparently, as the development team knew that a new Pokémon game was on the way (which turned out to be Pokémon Sun and Moon), a character slot was saved especially for one new character from that franchise. Once the team knew a little more about the games, Incineorar was chosen above other potential candidates.
One character reveal that took almost everyone by surprise was the free DLC addition of Piranha Plant. This famous Super Mario enemy has been wiggling around on our TV screens for decades, but very few people would have ever considered it for an appearance in Smash. So was this decision made purely for the surprise appeal, or something else entirely? Here's what Sakurai had to say:
I’m actually not paying too much focus on the surprise element when we introduce a new fighter. The surprise element quickly fades once the announcement has been made.
Rather, I believe it’s important to have a good balance as a game. In the past titles in the series, Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B. and Duck Hunt Dog were some of the examples we offered outside of people’s typical expectations. However, if we don’t have these types of fighters, and we only had typical “hero/heroine” type fighters in the lineup, there’s not much difference. It’s probably not very interesting. Correct?
As huge fans of Piranha Plant at Nintendo Life HQ, we couldn't be happier to see it included in the roster and agree that straying from the usual "hero/heroine" stars is wonderfully refreshing.
But what do you think? Feel free to let us know your thoughts on these comments down below.