Nintendo recently published an interview with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai via Nintendo Switch news. Sakurai discusses the increased tempo, why items are in the series, changes and additions, how he chooses taunts to be in the game, the additions of Inkling and Ridley and much more. Read on below for a few excerpts from the interview:
How would you describe the overall pace or speed of the gameplay?
It’s more the sense of tempo than speed. For example, when a fighter is launched, by increasing the launch speed to a certain extent, the fighter quickly then becomes controllable. By slightly reducing the time the fighter can’t be controlled, we are aiming for a well-paced gameplay experience. We are aiming to make improvements here and there, like reconsidering buttons, allowing short hop attacks by pressing buttons simultaneously, etc to make the controls easier, but at the same time keep a good tempo.
Items have always been a big part of Super Smash Bros. What goes into designing new items and what do you think items add to the franchise?
The fact that in a fighting game, it’s usually a given that the more skilled player wins. There’s just the two players, no random elements, and it works. But when you have things like items, players who would normally lose, can sometimes win. In order to summon up this shuffling nature or this sense of randomness, I think items become necessary. Some people may never use them, but I believe it’s an important essence when we’re talking about people just gathering and playing together. So I’d like to continue to include them in the future.
Another change was adding slowdown to repeated Dodge Rolls. Can you talk about that?
Ah, yes. There are times where continuing to run away becomes advantageous. I think there are times when, for example, you can take the win by just being evasive with a fast character in a timed match. Since this is a game about characters, and at the same time an action game, we can’t really lower the stats of a character during those times – but I think we can add penalties for a certain level of timid gameplay, like using dodges repeatedly. Having someone just dodge repeatedly is not fun, right? I’d like to add penalties as much as possible to plays like that.
So you’re telling players to fight rather than run?
(Laughs) I wouldn’t go so far as to say “Fight!”, but I want to do something against passive gameplay. It’d be great if we can make these kinds of decisions for more types of situations, but the more we do this, the more we end up leaving our fingerprints – resulting in it being unfair. So we decided to make the conditions very clear, and added this penalty for the dodges.
In this game, there’s a new control option, the Jump + Attack buttons that does an automatic Short Hop Aerial Attack. What’s the thinking behind this addition? How do you think players will use it?
I feel that when it comes to techniques in games, the harder it is to pull off, the more it leans towards a core audience. For example, in the past, we had a feature where pressing the R Button can cancel out your landing lag, but we’ve since removed this. The execution is simple, but how you implement it has depth. The Short Hop Attack, which is usually hard to pull off, is an example. By simplifying the process of quickly tapping the jump button while executing an attack while in the air, anybody can use this technique, to an extent. This addition is one of a series of additions that drives at our core thinking with this game – the best competition happens after everybody can properly control the character.
Ah, that’s a good segue for the next question. Do you have any advice for new players?
It has always been the case, but we are aiming to create a game where even if beginners only use weak attacks or special attacks, it’s still a game. If you’re a beginner, things like what the new features are doesn’t really matter to begin with. But even if they don’t know these things, as long as they can have fun with what they can do within their community, I think that works.
We could go the opposite end of the spectrum, and increase the difficulty in command inputs to create something leaning heavily towards core players, where you can really compete with your skills. but not having this as a goal, is what makes Smash, Smash. So, I’d like to keep the controls as simple as possible. It’s of course not as casual as Mario Kart, but I want to keep it easy on the players’ hands!
Why is there a difference in damage dealt to fighters when playing in a 1-on-1 game as opposed toa 4-player free-for-all game? How does it affect the overall game balance?
As I was adjusting the balance of the game, one thing I was struggling with was the fact that the damage opportunity between a 1-on-1 match and a 4-player match is completely different. It makes sense, considering there are three times as many enemies, so you take on more damage. When adjusting the balance for a 4-player match, there was always a tendency to make the 1-on-1 matches last longer.
When advanced pros play 1-on-1, the back-and-forth frequently leads to rather long matches. So, in order to wrap up the time reasonably, we added the 1-on-1 damage. I think by adding this, the back-and-forth in 1-on-1 matches go a little quicker, improving the tempo of the game.
The Smash characters are known for having unique taunt animations. I’ve always wondered, how are these decided upon. Do you have a favorite one?
Well… it’s sort of whatever I feel like. (Laughs)
It’s just that without these appeals, it’s nothing but fighting. Since this is a game about characters, I feel it a bit limiting to only be thinking about attacking. Things like adding unique movements in idle animations or adding taunts is a subtle way to showcase the character’s personalities, so I do put a bit of thought into it.
As for a favorite taunt, I like all of them, so I can’t really say, but I do like Ridley’s down taunt. When you use it, Ridley, for some reason, stands up straight, so you can actually see how tall he really is. He’s pretty big. He’s about four metres tall.
Source: Nintendo Everything