In his latest Creating Games video, Sakurai discusses the process that went into creating the first Super Smash Bros. game for the Nintendo 64. You can check out the full video below:
Following the launch of Kirby Super Star, Sakurai went to study 3D game development and came up with two prototypes: a four-player free-for-all fighting game, and an RC robot adventure game that involved hacking security cameras. Although both of Sakurai’s prototypes received praise, the rest of Sakurai's team were busy working on other projects such as Mother 3 for the 64DD. Those other projects eventually fell through though, and thus Nintendo needed to release a finished game as soon as they could. The RC adventure game would’ve taken too long, so they opted to work on the fighting game that was initially known as Dragon King: The Fighting Game.
Sakurai then shows off a never-before-seen look at Dragon King. Though it lacked things like special moves and dodges, you can see some concepts that would remain in Smash such as aerial moves and platforms you can jump through.
Sakurai states that while Smash is often seen as an antithesis to fighting games (a claim he himself has echoed in the past), it is not a rejection of the genre. The core component of fighting games in which you defeat an opponent by stringing together several attacks was still there in Dragon King. One new element Sakurai wanted to introduce however was the accumulated damage system, as this would allow for more improvised scenarios for both players and would rely less on mastering a difficult button input. Though this was aimed for players not familiar with more advanced combos, Sakurai states later in the video that he tried to appeal to more traditional fighting game players through other means. One example was with the Smash Bros. DOJO!! website which had tips and strategies for the game.
A big issue with Dragon King came with the fact that it introduced a bunch of main characters at once, which meant people probably wouldn’t care much about them. Other fighters such as Street Fighter bring in a bunch of main characters at once as well, however those were arcade titles which had the advantage of people watching others play in a public setting and thus becoming slowly hooked onto a specific character. This was not the same for home release fighters such as Dragon King. To fix this issue, Sakurai and his dev team contacted Nintendo and asked them to use their iconic characters so players would already be familiar with most of the cast. Nintendo’s reaction to the game after it was finished was mixed; developers of games loved it, however the sales team rejected the idea of having Nintendo characters beat each other up. The opinion of the latter seemingly changed once they had played the game.
Sakurai ends the video with the following quote:
You can check out all of Sakurai’s Creating Games videos here. He plans to cover the origins of Super Smash Bros. Melee next in his Game Concepts category.”As anyone who’s toyed around with the various rules in Smash bros. knows, the game is very flexible in how it lets you play. You can turn items on and have a chaotic four-player battle on a random stage, or have a white-knuckle 1-on-1 bouth with items turned off. This philosophy - of playing what you want, how you want - was, to an extent, established here in the first Smash title.”
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Author’s Note: That RC robot game idea seemed pretty cool, shame it never saw the light of day. Anyway what did you think about Sakurai's video? Let us know in the comments below!