Super Smash Bros Ultimate has appropriately been seen as the ultimate version of the Smash Bros series. But acclaimed Smash Bros director Masahiro Sakurai attested that the series is just a roster of popular names and is indeed something special. He also talked about the game’s new World of Light mode, how the title got started, some of the challenges of implementing so many different characters, and more.
Sakurai wrote an article in the popular Japanese magazine Famitsu (via Siliconera) about the series. The Smash Bros director said that Super Smash Bros Ultimate started being planned just after the Bayonetta and Corrin DLC released for Super Smash Bros for Wii U back in 2016.
Originally, the team believed the restrictions of the Switch as a console would mean that the game might need significant differences between docked and handheld modes. Thankfully, it turned out that the Switch’s screen was pretty formidable which is why there aren’t any huge differences. However, it seems the game does run better in portable mode.
He also stated that a whole team was formed to work on Super Smash Bros Ultimate‘s spirits. They dedicated themselves to not only choosing the spirits but also to researching them and making sure the franchises were integrated correctly.
Apparently, some of the new characters posed some interesting challenges as well. In the article, the Super Smash Bros director explained the difficulty of working around things like the Inkling’s ability to dissolve into ink. This required the developers to consider how this would interact with the stages as well as other fighters so there was a lot to consider. Other characters like Simon and Richter were designed to try to look as much like their original games as possible, which was hard to do while also keeping consistent with Smash‘s style.
We found out a while back that all fighters are determined before the game even begins production, even the likes of Persona 5‘s Joker who was recently announced to be upcoming Smash DLC. The only aside to this being Incineroar as the team didn’t know what the new Pokemon would be yet but knew they’d need to have a spot free for one.
Sakurai reiterated that surprise characters like Piranha Plant are put there to be just that: a surprise. The director described that having just your standard heroes or villain type characters are boring. Putting in obscure characters like the carnivorous plant or Mr. Game and Watch (who has also seen some issues) adds a bit more spice to the games.
In this sense, Sakurai also stated that the series has evolved beyond the roots of “Nintendo All-Stars.” The Smash Bros director doesn’t believe that the Nintendo stars are what defines the series anymore and instead stated this has more to do with the way the game plays. He believes that it would no longer truly be Smash if it turned into a one-on-one fighting game with the same impressive roster.
As for the World of Light mode, Sakurai said it was directly inspired by the Subspace Emissary’s Maze from Super Smash Bros Brawl. This forced players to recollect all the fighters and Sakurai thought that this could be much more effective if a catastrophic event was the catalyst.
He also stressed that there is no wrong or right way to play Smash. Sakurai seems to believe that both the highly competitive and casual side of Smash deserve equal attention. The Smash Bros director also says that Elite Smash is specifically to let the best of the best play against each other for now. It’s possible it will be changed later but at the moment, it’s designed to stop too many newcomers from having to face off against seasoned players.
The good news is this long-time Smash Bros director and visionary said that he will always make creating Smash Bros a priority as long as Nintendo wants one to be made. He is, however, hoping that this could be a long time coming. Sakurai said he’s ready for there to be 10 years before we see another Smash Bros which could speak to the support we are likely to receive for Ultimate moving forward.
Sakurai thanked the team that has helped him to creates this mammoth of a Smash Bros game. He also expressed gratitude to the third parties who have allowed Smash to continue to incorporate their characters and IPs into the game. Sakurai has explained before that managing to get a new Smash Bros game is always difficult thanks to all these external factors and that having a game where “Everyone is here!” has been quite a miracle in the making.