Super Smash Bros. and Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai has talked about the importance of appealing to both casual and pro gamers with any game – including his upcoming title Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, out in December – and how that was influenced by the time he spent in Japanese arcades in his 20s.
Speaking to The Guardian, Sakurai said that Super Smash Bros. wouldn't be what it is today by “forgoing the pros, or forgoing the beginners” and that it’s “something [he holds] dear and important”. He cited an anecdote from his arcade days of how he became conscious of that:
“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!’”
Sakurai noted that Super Smash Bros. “is a game that lends itself to creating community” and he is “very proud” of the “the fact that we can collaborate with all these different people and characters and meld that all together without any inconsistencies”.
The 48-year-old game director, who founded his current company Sora Ltd. in 2005, buys and plays a lot of video games, a love that began while he was at school. “There was a two-year-period in school where I would do a part-time job to make enough money to buy games, that I would play to research,” he said. “I went out of my way to play games I didn’t like or find interesting. Those ended up being a lot more informative for me.”
Now Sakurai has so many games that he can’t display them all in his Tokyo house – “one of the biggest challenges of living in Tokyo is not having space to do anything,” he added – and he’s turned to digitally-downloaded versions in recent years. Beyond that, he writes a column for Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, in which he once detailed “seven-day work weeks” while working on the last Super Smash Bros. title that led to tendinitis in his shoulder.
Above all, Sakurai is a passionate advocate of gaming as a medium. “Even for people who say that they grow out of games, once they have kids and there’s a game they can play together, they return,” he said. “It’s not about quitting or graduating from playing games; it’s about finding what’s enjoyable for you at that time in your life, and playing that.”
If you’re a big Sakurai fan, the full interview over at The Guardian is worth a read.
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