The secret to success, as you might expect, is trying to make something everyone can be happy with.
Super Smash Bros. has an illustrious history of including notable third party characters from the full spectrum of the medium’s industry. These third party character inclusions are especially interesting—where Nintendo’s games, and therefore characters, all have a consistent visual style and tone (more or less), someone like Snake is more out of place next to someone like Pikachu.
But somehow, miraculously, it works. It should be absurd, but Snake fighting Kirby, and Cloud fighting Diddy Kong doesn’t seem dissonant or incongruous at all. How does this happen? For instance, in the 2012 game PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, even Sony’s own characters felt tonally inconsistent next to one another. How, then, does Smash manage to reconcile third party characters next to Nintendo’s own?
Speaking to EDGE (Issue 326), series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai discussed the process of trying to make each third party character fit into the game, noting that it is something that all parties involved try to come to an agreement on, but that the character is always recreated and reimagined in the context of what Smash Bros. is.
“There are cases where I will meet with the original creators myself once or twice, but in general communication is carried out through Nintendo,” Sakurai said. “In addition, it wouldn’t necessarily be the original creator I would meet – rather like how I was directly involved with the Kirby series, but don’t know about other projects now.
”We’ve made various changes so that both cartoonish and realistic characters can appear on the same screen together with it seeming natural, and the characters still looking cool. Character movements are also developed with a Smash Bros. style first. The end result from this is then passed on for review by the other companies, so they can point out any problems for us to fix. Though there might be differences in what is regarded as acceptable in terms of Smash Bros. and in terms of the original series, in the end we try to find something that both sides will be happy with.
“What I’ve always thought throughout my time working on this series is that if what I make is of good quality, more people will support it. I can feel the expectations coming from both inside and outside the company that Smash Bros. Ultimate will be able to do it right.”
Sakurai’s labor looks to be paying off, as Ultimate seems to work in spite of having so many third party characters in it (or maybe because of it). And, if Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime’s words are anything to go by, we can expect even more third party characters to be added to Smash in the coming months.