Sakurai on Smash Bros. customization, randomness, Melee vs. Brawl, the fighting genre and more

Coming from a GameSpot interview with Masahiro Sakurai.

"I like to think of Smash Bros. as a game with lots of interesting accidents. For example, you might have a terrain change that signals incoming damage from a hazard. Those sorts of things are fun to anticipate and react to while fighting."



On character customization

"Perhaps the best way to think of it is: it's not the strength of the attacks that change--their power--but the directionality of those attacks will change with customization."



On tripping

"I think we're going in a direction where we're not going to include [tripping] this time around."



On random elements

"When you boil things down to pure competition, it's not always the most engaging experience. For example, think about the 50-meter dash. This is something that really comes down to speed. You see a lot of people progressing in a linear direction, and the person who is fastest in the beginning is quite often going to be the winner. It's predictable--and while it is pure competition, it's not necessarily engaging in the same way as events with unpredictability. As developers, we have to think about all of these circumstances when designing fighting games."


On Melee vs. Brawl

"When I began working on the first Smash Bros., there was a great focus on [highly-technical] fighting games, and that's something we've seen branch off into sort of a niche direction. Now, those types of fighting games have a very high barrier to entry for new players, while Smash was always meant to appeal to lots of people from different gaming communities. When you look at fighting game forums, you'll see a preference for Melee, and yet, I think there are lots of people in the silent majority who don't post online who prefer Brawl. Ever since I started working on the Kirby series, I've always thought about the needs of the less vocal, beginning players of games."

On game speed

"I would say that the speed of gameplay [in the next Smash Bros.] is going to be a little bit less than Melee, but a little bit more than Brawl. One of the best ways to look at the fighting game genre is thinking about this pinnacle--this peak--we've built up to where these games have become more of a hobbyist [genre]. I think that trend might be reaching an end."

On the fighting genre

"I think the idea of the fighting game genre can be somewhat limiting. People have defined in their own minds what constitutes a fighting game, and that can be such a specific set of characteristics that when other people are viewing a game from the outside and they learn it's a fighting game, they may predetermine it's not for them simply because of what they expect from it as a fighting game.

When planning the development of a new game, I always take a lot of care to discuss the concept and try to define it as best I can. For example, I like to think of Smash as a four-player battle royal action game. You'll notice that's a lot longer than saying it's a fighting game, because 'fighting game' is a completely different label. You can talk about a fighting game or an action game or a racing game, but as soon as you define your game specifically in those terms, you start limiting your creative range because you're thinking of the limitations of that genre. Perhaps the best thing we can do now is start with a concept rather than a genre. If we can do that, perhaps we can grow the whole idea a little bit."

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