Masahiro Sakurai has, for a long time, been one of the most polarizing developers in fighting games. A famed producer of the Kirby franchise before producing the Super Smash Bros. series, Sakurai has possessed an ever-changing stance on competitive fighting games. From calling fighting games “too hard to get into,” to having to create a website explaining advanced nuances of the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64, Sakurai’s original stance was to make Smash accessible, but competitive and flexible. He further developed Super Smash Bros. Melee in a way that would allow it to be played either casually or competitively.
Soon after, during development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Sakurai completely flip-flopped on his stance and went out of his way to make Brawl limited technically–and thus less competitive–as possible, even going so far as to implement the infamous randomized character tripping into the core mechanics. But seeing the differences between Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, one has to wonder: had his outlook again changed?
PushDustin from Smashboards and Soma from Source Gaming sat down for a podcast to discuss the possibility. Going over translations of interviews and writings of Sakurai from the last couple decades, they try to come up with the solution. They also try to understand how he came to his stance that caused the design choices in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
[Editor’s note: Sakurai has discussed his current outlook on fighting games at length in his Famitsu column as well, worth a look for comparison.]