Mashahiro Sakurai has said that it’s unlikely that he will work on any more games in the Smash Bros. series.
“I can’t positively declare there won’t be [another Smash Bros. game],” Sakurai told Game Informer. “With both Melee and Brawl, I made those games with the thought that there wouldn’t be any more sequels. Thus, I really can’t deny the chance for another. However, as for myself, I don’t think there will be.”
He goes on to cite unsustainable expectations, “In terms of scope, and in terms of sheer number of characters, we went beyond our limits long ago.” Staring at the towering character select screen in the newest Smash Bros. game, it’s not difficult to see why. 51 characters in a game is a grand scope for any game, but they’re all there. And subsequent games, if they follow the trend, will have even more.
In the face of that, there is reason to suspect fans will be unhappy with anything less. He goes on to say, “And yet, if we cut the number of fighters or modes in a future game, I’m sure there would be complaints.”
As a result, the outlook looks grim. “You could say that all the effort in the past to stretch out, keep pushing myself, and provide all these extra merits wound up tightening the noose around my neck in the future,” Sakurai said, continuing. “That may seem like it contradicts my personal desire to keep giving gamers as much as I can, but I don’t see any easy answer for it.”
However, Sakurai has said things of this nature before, and somehow found himself at the head of a new Smash game all over again. Concluding his statement, it seems that there is still a glimmer of hope, however slight. “And yet, despite that, I also have trouble picturing someone else taking my place and providing all this value-added content without me.”
Back in August, Sakurai admitted that making a new Smash Bros. game was the source of a lot of stress. For a series like Smash Bros., where the ideal result is a large roster of well-balanced characters foiled with a solid helping of game modes and items, it’s not hard to imagine that there’s a great deal of stress involved with trying to deliver a fully-featured, fully-finished product in time for release. As the series has continued, so has its scope – and the result is a massive undertaking that he had said was taking a toll on him.
He spoke briefly about having how his personal limits are exceeded with every new title, especially in terms of character creation, and how the included features, campaigns, online support, and other details put a critical weight and edge onto his health and team. “But the players don’t know about how hard we work. That’s not a problem because that’s the case for any product, but it’s important to remember that you can’t take anything for granted.” However, he feels such personal pride in the quality of Smash Bros. games that he puts those feelings aside. They’re a part of game development, and as such, he feels that he needs to work his hardest and best to make absolutely certain they produce the best game they can. Even in the face of this, he expresses regret that he’s unable to fit every feature he wants into a game. But, by admission, every failure is just an opportunity to pour that into his next game. It’s that work ethic that serves as the backbone for Smash.
However, his most telling statement was a simple line at the end: “The pain goes away, but your work always remains.”
Looking back, it’s a stark outlook on the work. Passion can only fuel so long, and inevitably, the toll of so much work on the horizon isn’t one that’s sustainable in the long run.
It can be hard to look at any future for Nintendo that doesn’t have a Smash Bros. somewhere, being a massively popular title on every platform it has touched. Only time will tell whether or not this really spells the end for a Sakurai-led Smash Bros.
Ewan Moore reviewed Super Smash Bros. for Wii U for Continue Play this week, scoring it a cast-iron 10/10 – one of the few games to receive such a lofty accolade. “Super Smash Bros is what Nintendo has always been about,” he wrote. “Simply put, Super Smash Bros for Wii U is fun.”