Polygon Interviews Super Smash Bros. Director Masahiro Sakurai on Roster Selection, Says Creating a Roster Is Stressful “Almost to the Brink of Death”

By on June 24, 2013 at 9:37 am

Creating a roster for a dream crossover game may not be as fun as we all think it is. Masahiro Sakurai told Polygon in a recent interview, that selecting characters for the new Super Smash Bros. is stressful “almost to the brink of death.” Why? A number of reasons! He has limited space in the roster and in that space he has to include old favorites, new contenders, and has to satisfy the wishes of both Nintendo and Smash Bros. fans! If he starts running out of space, he has to start removing characters from the roster, and then anyone who liked that character will be furious with him and not like the game. Similarly, he might include characters that he believes have interesting and fun playstyles, but because of their obscurity they are liked by no one. It’s a rough job!

We have included an excerpt of the interview below. Be sure to head on over to Polygon to read it in it’s entirety, as Sakurai expands on what makes a character a candidate for Smash Bros. inclusion and how and why Megaman got added to the roster. Let’s see if Ridley is too big this time around.


“The amount of stress I feel, it’s almost to the brink of death,” Sakurai said of designing Smash Bros.’s character roster. “Because it’s not just a matter of me personally thinking this character or that character is going to be in the game; it’s that we also have the game balance, animation, graphics and sound to think about in order to make that character fully fleshed out in that universe. I have to think about all of that when I go through this decision-making process.”

Sakurai said that a Smash Bros. game is defined by the characters on its roster. Without the inclusion of Mario, Kirby, Samus or Link, some would say, “it might not be Smash Bros.” What defines the core of Smash Bros., he says, varies from player to player.

“Whether it’s a minor character or a character that is one of the most highly skilled and most played,” Sakurai said, “if that character is removed from the game, the people who live for that character in Smash Bros. are going to have their feelings hurt.

“I think we have to really consider that, so I take a very serious, hard look at that and have empathy for the players who look for these type of characters when we’re making these decisions.”

Source: Polygon

Angelo M. D’Argenio A.K.A. MyLifeIsAnRPG got his start in the fighting game community as a young boy playing Street Fighter II in arcades down at the Jersey Shore. As president of Disorganization XIII, he travels the convention circuit presenting a variety of panels from discussions on gamer culture, to stick modding workshops, to fighting game comedy acts. He has a passion for looking at the fighting game community from an academic standpoint and has completed several studies on effective fighting game learning and the impact fighting games have on social circles. A six year veteran of the gaming industry, he also writes for Cheat Code Central and is a lead game designer for Ember Games. On Tuesdays, you can find him getting bodied by Chris G and getting mistaken for Seth Rogen at The Break.
  • Asaid AieezyOle Falah

    Streesfu….STREESFULL? Lemme ask you somethin Sakurai…..who the fuck is gonna be “furious” thatyou didnt put the Wii fit Trainer in the game.

    • You could argue that putting in the Wii fit trainer was one of the most stressful decisions you could have ever made..because people are definitely furious about that decision. Whether he made it or not he now has to make it work that is stressful and a challenge at the same time depending on your out look of things.

      With having the restriction on the roster, and the fact that you might just find your favorite character missing because of the Wii Fit trainer is without a doubt a flame that won’t quell so easily.

      • GustavoGoose

        Ironically, Wii Fit Girl is getting much more attention than Megaman. Most of it is positive as well. Smash has a wacky out of the blue character in every iteration (64 may be an exception if you don’t consider Jigglypuff or Captain Falcon), Wii Fit Girl just so happens to have a moveset that really works for the game.

        • Louis Lam

          Look at all the fanart, I don’t think it’s the moveset that’s giving her all the attention…

    • Sander van der Ham

      I actually like Wii Fit Trainer, she looks really unique and fun to play with. Everyone is hating on her but no everyone seems to forget that there’s also Villager and Megaman that take up slots in the roster and everyone is fine with that.

      I’m sure Sakurai will deliver an amazing game regardless, Smash Bros. is one hell of a guarantee for hours and hours of fun.

      • Asaid AieezyOle Falah

        Be honest, if she wasnt announced for this game and the game came out and you saw the entire roster you wouldve never said “God damnit….why isnt the Wii Fit lady in here”

    • HappyOnion

      sakurai cant just add the characters everyone wants, thats not enough.Look at sonic, everyone asked for him yet he was not picked very often,tourney or casual wise. he just wasn’t as fun to play as unless you had an acquired taste (odd,forced moveset )or really just wanted to play sonic. im not sure if im in the minority here but id much rather a character who is FUN than a character who is just there for publicity’s sake. fun may be subjective but results speak for themselves, sonic is an example of this.

    • kingsharkboi

      There’s people puzzled about Wii Fit Trainer, but this comes as a suprise to me since Melee got Game & Watch and Brawl got R.O.B. These guys had moves that were either made up or made to look like attacks. Similarly, nobody asked for Ice Climbers, no Westerners asked for Fire Emblem characters, and I’m pretty sure nobody even expected Captain Falcon in SSB64. But believe it or not after many months these guys all get their own fans via people having fun with them in-game, especially the latter. Smash will make WiiFit Trainer popular if she’s good to play (similar to Spencer and Sentinel in Marvel), and arguably already has thanks to memes.

    • Kevin

      Well you might be right about Sakurai’s silliest decision, but knowing that there’re silly characters in Smash bros like Mr Game & Watch and ROB, i believe that the people will start to like the wii fit trainer, who knows.

  • “Similarly, he might include characters that he believes have interesting and fun playstyles, but because of their obscurity they are liked by no one.”

    Accurate as fuck.

    • Gethoff Mahfacebuk

      Can always just buy it used lol

    • Snow Loss

      Personally I enjoy seeing the obscure characters I’ve never heard of. Hell it’s how the US got introduced to Fire Emblem.

      There’s a few characters I think would fit well that I doubt will get in, but experiencing and discovering the weird and unexpected stuff is a huge part of a Smash Bros release for me.

  • $21192153

    Add banjo kazooie or Little Mac from Punchout

    • Vaughn Anderson

      He must first battle the fires of X-Box and use his Maximum Tomato on Rare so they can give him the Boss Key so he can battle Microsoft to rescue Banjo and Kazooie from their evil clutches! But if he fails… Dreamland will be engulfed by darkness and Kirby will have to save his world before they move on to another world… namely Pit’s…

      …*sits and grabs a bag of chips to watch this amazing episode of “Sakurai Z”* OwO

  • Kaihedgie

    I say let Sakurai do what he wants. Doesn’t need craploads of hatemail from angry fans right now, especially considering he injured himself just to present to us working builds for TWO separate consoles.

    • Justin Archer

      You’re saying it as if he does all the work by himself.

      • What he means is that people should just let him and his team work quietly.

      • Kaihedgie

        Of course he doesn’t, but he is the one directing all of this in the first place and he is immediately the first one everyone will go to

  • XaviIniesta

    I wanna see Lucina from Fire Emblem: Awakening.

  • Eder García

    sakurai maybe is right, is stressful because this time, he got pressure from namco/bandai because they want one of their characters in smash, the pressure from the fans because they want megaman and ridley, and finally the pressure from nintendo (mostly from iwata) because they want “unique” characters like wii-fit girl

  • Trevor Clarke

    Villager and Wii Fit Trainer

    Two people I fucking waited since Melee to see in a game, thanks Sakurai!

  • Unemployment Master

    If Captain Falcon and Sheik aren’t in the roster, I won’t buy it.
    (I won’t buy it anyways, I don’t have WiiU… Smith LOLOLOLOLROFL)