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‘Super Smash Bros. 4’ gameplay compared to past games, director explains changes

Super Smash Bros. 4
Super Smash Bros. 4
Photo courtesy of Nintendo, used with permission.

In this month’s issue of EDGE, Super Smash Bros. 4 director Masahiro Sakurai was interviewed by the editorial staff and he shed new light on the development of Super Smash Bros. 4, compared its gameplay to past Smash Bros. titles, and explained how the game is now more balanced. According to a report by Nintendo Everything from Aug. 29, Sakurai went into great depth detailing many of the finer aspects of Super Smash Bros. 4 for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS and how the game will cater to all types of players.

While speaking with EDGE, Sakurai addressed the topic of Super Smash Bros. Melee’s continuous popularity with gamers. Sakurai feels that Melee became popular thanks to the game’s speed, but he admits the game’s controls were quite complicated. Due to the complex controls, this made Melee less accessible to novice players, thus making it a Super Smash Bros. title only for the hardcore fighting fans. Super Smash Bros. Melee becoming a hardcore fighting game is one of Sakurai’s regrets as he designed the game to be for players who weren’t skilled at hardcore fighters. Find Sakurai’s full statement below:

I think the popularity of Melee rested fundamentally on the game’s speed. The dazzling exchange of skills was the game’s most exhilarating aspect and the rough edges in terms of the game’s balance went mostly unnoticed. Even though the dynamic range of the characters was limited, the game somehow made its mark, even with hardcore fans of the genre.

Melee’s controls were, however, quite complicated and very tiring if the player really got into it in a serious way. This made the game less accessible for novice players and it basically ended up becoming a Smash Bros. game for hardcore fighting fans. I personally regret that, because I originally intended the Smash Bros. series to be for players who couldn’t handle such highly skilled games.

For Super Smash Bros. Wii U & 3DS, the most important thing to Sakurai and the development team was to give the game some breadth and depth, allowing each version to be popular with the novice crowd and the hardcore gamers. When directly compared to Super Smash Bros. Melee, the pace of Super Smash Bros. 4 has been lowered in order to achieve balance, but they kept the energy found in Melee since they no longer had to focus on novice players like they did in Brawl. Find his full comment below:

The most important thing is that the game have breadth and depth, since we would like them to be popular with both novices and hardcore gamers. We think that people who aren’t so good at turning the tables and coming back from behind can still get enjoyment out of the [new] game, even if they turn off items and Smash Balls.

Although the pace of the game had to be lowered compared to Melee in order to achieve this balance, we have managed to keep the dynamism because we didn’t have to gear towards novice players like we did with Brawl. In fact, we recreated all characters almost from scratch. Also, I feel on a personal level that this game is more interesting than the three previous games in the series.

When it came time for Super Smash Bros. Brawl to release for Nintendo Wii, Sakurai had a new challenge on his hands. With the success of Wii Sports and Wii Fit, the Wii’s market was made up of many first-time players. Sakurai explains that this meant he and his team had to make sure that everyone could use the game’s controls – like using the Wii Remote sideways. A result of this, Super Smash Bros. Brawl was a “rather tame game” that had some advantages, but also removed “some of the excitement” from the experience, admits Sakurai. Find his full comment below:

Games aimed at casual users, such as Wii Sports and Wii Fit, reinvigorated the market and their success lay behind Wii’s popularity, [so] we had to make sure that Brawl would also be fun for first-time players. We also had to make sure that everyone could use the controls, such as holding the Wii Remote sideways. As a result of these considerations, overall Brawl is rather tame game; this had its advantages, but it also took away some of the excitement.

With all of this in mind, Sakurai sought to find a nice balance between Melee and Brawl while developing Super Smash Bros. 4 for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. “We therefore want to keep a nice balance in which a wide variety of events can occur in the game, some of them quite outrageous. With this, Smash Bros. isn’t just a fighting game, it is an opponent-based action game”, Sakurai explained.

Super Smash Bros. 4 will be released for Nintendo 3DS on Oct. 3 in North America. Super Smash Bros. 4 for Wii U doesn’t have a confirmed release date at this time, but is slated for a late 2014 holiday release.

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