Masahiro Sakurai’s most recent video focuses on Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a game concept. During this video, Sakurai relayed the story of how he became the Director of Super Smash Bros. Brawl despite no longer being with Nintendo at that point, as well as a few behind the scenes stories about the game’s development.
“It was E3 2005, the day after the Wii was announced, when President Iwata approached me with an offer to develop a Smash Bros. title for the Wii,” begun Sakurai. “I had already gone freelance, and had I turned the work down, they might have left Super Smash Bros. Melee’s 26 fighters completely untouched and simply rereleased the game as-is for the Wii. That’s what Mr. Iwata once told me.”
The conversation with Iwata that Sakurai was referring to actually happened during an Iwata Asks interview between Sakurai and Iwata. During this conversation, it was actually revealed that Iwata was sort of hoping to pressure Sakurai into taking the reins for Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s development with this statement.
“Before the presentation, we polled a large number of people on what Nintendo titles they hoped to see made available for network play and many put Smash Bros. at the top of their list,” said Iwata to Sakurai. “So I announced this subject, emphasizing that I was hoping that a Smash Bros. game would be released as a Wi-Fi compatible title. However, most people from Japan that were in the conference room took this as an official announcement that Nintendo was going to release a new Smash Bros.”
Iwata would emphasize that he actually regretted how he handled this considering that a third entry for the Super Smash Bros. series wasn’t in development at the time. However, Iwata quickly hatched a plan to try to get Sakurai involved with the project despite him no longer being with HAL.
“So, during that E3, I invited you to my hotel room and told you what I was hoping to do,” continued Iwata. “That was the start of the project, there wasn’t any specifications set, nor was there any framework.”
“I had considered what I would do if you turned me down and decided that I would need to take the existing Smash Bros. title, Super Smash Bros. Melee for Nintendo GameCube, and try to make it Wi-Fi capable while preserving as much balanced gameplay as possible in the event you didn’t want to get involved,” declared Iwata. “Maybe it’s more appropriate to say that I realized we wouldn’t be able to add any new elements to the game without your help and I think I said as much when we discussed it at the hotel. It wasn’t right, but you might even say I used it as a threat of sorts.”
Funnily enough, Sakurai noted that this did indeed have the desired impact on him as he did become the Director of Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a result of this conversation. Sakurai even confirmed that he was considering other work at this point, but went with the Super Smash Bros. project as he “decided there were no other jobs with the potential to make people as happy as the Smash Bros. project would. After all, it was already clear that lots of people were looking forward to it.”
Though online play was an essential part of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s plan, Sakurai himself had some reservations about implementing online play. “Personally speaking, I don’t think online play and Smash Bros. are a good fit for each other,” stated Sakurai.
Sakurai believed that it was important for players to sometimes feel like a champion among their friends. However, players can be made to lose confidence in themselves with online competition.
Additionally, Sakurai wasn’t even sure how well online play would hold together since games like it needed to use synchronous communication whereas something like Mario Kart can more easily get away with asynchronous communication. Needless to say, Sakurai says that he was surprised that the team was even able to get online play to work at all.
By the end of the video, Sakurai casually mentions just how successful Super Smash Bros. Brawl was and how the series might not have continued without Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
“Excluding the combined sales Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U and 3DS, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is the second best-selling entry in the series,” noted Sakurai. “If we hadn’t been able to make the game at all, that may have spelled the end of the Super Smash Bros. series as we know it, but that’s a conversation for another time.”
Check out the video below to hear about everything Sakurai had to say about these subjects and more: