Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai balances his fighting games for everyday joes, not the ultra-competitive experts who have turned the franchise into a tournament favourite.
Kotaku asked Sakurai if he ever takes feedback from core fighter fans into consideration when designing a new Smash Bros. game, and the director said he “mostly” does not.
“Basically, Smash Bros. is designed to be sort of targeted at the centre, intermediate players, and if you think of sort of a skill graph or something where if you’re targeting just the peak of that performance level, you’re targeting a very small group of people,” he said.
“We wanna avoid a situation where it becomes a game sort of like other competitive fighting games, where it’s only apreciated by a very small, passionate group of sort of maniac players. We definitely don’t want that sort of situation. It’s supposed to be a fun game for a wide variety of people.”
That said, Sakurai does appreciate very high-level competitive play, noting that he himself was once a hardcore Street Fighter fan, and won a 100-person battle in an arcade.
Sakurai said the team balances characters by having players go up against very highly-skilled opponents in simple arenas, then analyses video of the bout to see what needs to be done.
“Smash Bros. is all about position – where you’re at and what kind of power the player has based on where their position is at. So it’s something that players have to take advantage of,” he said.
“But if suddenly you create sort of a testing scenario where the position balance is removed from the equation, and you sort of start to see where, when you remove that one factor from the game, you’re basically testing two players in the same circumstances, that’s when you can really start to see the differences and balance between characters.”
Sakurai said that some of the charms of Smash Bros. are the verticality and the broad collision detection. The full interview goes into further detail on balancing and high-level design, and confirms that trip is not making a comeback; hit the link above to check it out.
Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U is due in 2014. The two versions won’t have crossplay but you’ll be able to import customised characters from one platform to another. The single-player won’t be like Brawl, but Sakurai is hoping to win over fans of the Wii title.