Kotaku speak to Kirby and Super Smash Brothers creator Masahiro Sakurai about the next installment of Smash Bros coming to the Wii U and 3DS. Here are some of my highlights from the interview:
Kotaku: My first question is, what is the process like for deciding which characters in a Smash Bros. game to include and which to cut from game to game?
Sakurai: The first thing is to take an idea. For example, imagine a game and characters within that game. Take a character such as the villager in Animal Crossing. The next process is think about that character’s role in their game and then the structure of the game we’re making. How do those work together with each other? What kind of interesting things can you do within the structure of the game? And then if you were to actually implement that character, how would the end result be, how it works with other elements of the game?
An important thing is that the characters stand out from one another—for instance, we might wanna be able to take characters that aren’t typically combat-based characters. So you might have a sword-based character, but other characters are not necessarily going to [have swords]. You’re not gonna wanna focus on that sort of element, just so there’s a distinction between all of the other combat-based characters.
They have to have something really unique that makes them stand apart from other characters in the game, and not limit yourself to characters that are just combat-based.
Kotaku: And you can also—on the 3DS version—play against people playing the Wii U version?
Sakurai: Actually, that’s not possible. What is possible is for you to be able to customize your character, transfer it to the Wii U, and then play there. It would be technically impossible, just because the stages are so different between the two versions, so there isn’t a situation where you have a handheld device and a console and you’re able to play at the same time. Just more of a situation where there’s integration, and [ability] to transfer data.
Kotaku: How do you manage to make each character still feel strong and still feel like they can be competitive with the rest of the characters, even with all those positional factors?
Sakurai: Yeah, if it was just a flat playing surface, it would be one thing, and you could determine pretty quickly which was the stronger character. But given the circumstances of the series, and there are so many factors, it comes down to a quite simple process, where you give characters a special—something special that no other character has. A special technique. And at the same time, as that ratchets up their strength, you also have to take something away, so it becomes a sort of game of checks and balances where you’re adding and removing.
So again, it’s very important to have that system of checks and balances where if a character has some very strong point, you have to give him something weak. If a person really likes that character, and they want to have that special strength, they’re going to have to sacrifice something to be able to take that weakness and create sort of a balance in that sense, where each character has something that certain people like.
Kotaku: Do you feel like there were flaws or weaknesses in Smash Bros. Brawl that you want to make better, or fix, or learn from for the new Smash Bros. games?
Sakurai: I would consider the changes that we’re making this time around not as fixes, but that we’re changing the direction. And so the vision for the overall balance of the game inSmash Bros. Melee, it was sort of more focused towards more hardcore players. Then when it came around to making Brawl, this was a game that was targeting a Wii audience where there were a lot of beginner players, so it sort of leaned a little bit more in that direction. So now, for this time around, we’re sort of aiming for something that is in between those as far as the speed of the game. Because I don’t really think this time we’re in a situation where we’re trying to accommodate that many new players like we did last time.