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Sakurai Explains Core Concepts of Smash Bros. Ultimate

3 min

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Sakurai Explains Core Concepts of Smash Bros. Ultimate
What made this series so great?

With many people only seeing Super Smash Bros. as a series of casual brawlers or platform fighters, its incredibly nuanced design is often overlooked. Luckily, Masahiro Sakurai continues to upload more and more videos to his personal YouTube channel, where he constantly shares his developer experience, going as far as to explain the significance of timing a hitstop just right to create a satisfying feeling of impact.

However, his latest video touches on a much broader topic of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's core concept, which you might find to be surprisingly simple - Everyone is here!

Yep, these few words were a surprisingly crucial part of SSBU's development. The ease of carrying things over from Wii U presented Sakurai with an opportunity to create a gigantic roster, and he didn't let the opportunity slip, even though achieving this ambition required a great deal of money and effort, especially thanks to so many characters from different rightsholders.

To assure high quality, Sakurai went over every character and noted down anywhere from 70 to 100 changes for each character. Not just in terms of balance or their movesets, but even visuals, sound effects, and other things.

It's interesting that when it comes to the pace of the game, he places Ultimate into the sweet spot between Melee and SSB4, as a game that is definitely not slow, but not too fast either.

This "Everyone is here!" mentality applies to stages as well. There are roughly 100 stage in Smash Ultimate, and you can multiply that by 3 when you consider that every stage also has a Battlefield variant with 3 floating platforms, and an Omega variant that reduces it to just the ground level.

That's a lot of content, and partially why they had to cut some of the older content that people could find in SSB4 or other titles. This is how Spirits and World of Light came to be. Sakurai still wanted people to have some compelling side content and a single player adventure. Spirits allowed them to achieve just that, they added a lot of the spirit (sorry) of the original IPs into Smash, and served as a vehicle for more interesting vs CPU battles, as they tried to recreate battles resembling other games.

Lastly, he notes that creating the game during the COVID-19 pandemic presented them with unexpected challenges, but they still managed to release all planned content before the end of 2021. Sakurai thinks that they succeeded in pleasing the audience with Ultimate, and it's hard to imagine another increase in scale or further expansion that would warrant a new title, but since they had the same feeling about some older games, it's impossible to say that there won't be another Smash game.

Whichever ends up being the case, I feel like netcode is definitely something they could improve on if there is ever a sequel, as even Sakurai himself notes that playtesting the game when working from home added additional problems.

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