Super Smash Bros. series creator Masahiro Sakurai deliberately played bad games to get better at game development

Says they were "a lot more informative" for him

Posted by Steven 'Dreamking23' Chavez • October 11, 2018 at 11:28 a.m. PDT

Super Smash Bros. series creator Masahiro Sakurai is an impressive individual. His work ethic and attention to detail is that of legends, and the work he's accomplished in the realm of video games has earned him a unique and devoted fan-base — which is interesting to see for a single game developer versus an entire gaming company.

Though Sakurai got his start working on the Kirby franchise with Japanese game development company HAL Laboratory, it's Sakurai's work on the Super Smash Bros. series that mainstream fans recognize him and praise him for.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming to Nintendo Switch later this year, and already the game is shaping up to be the biggest and most action-packed entry the franchise has ever seen. Several feats fans never believed possible have been achieved by Sakurai and his team in Smash Bros. Ultimate, including making every single character ever on a Super Smash Bros. game's roster playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — a task so crazy, Sakurai was met with complete silence from his team when he initially pitched the idea.

On top of that, we have newcomers to the series that fans have been dying to see make the cut for years finally joining the battle. Despite issues with size and scale, Sakurai managed to get Metroid antagonist Ridley and Donkey Kong Country's King K. Rool into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — again, something people never thought would actually happen.

When you really consider how much Sakurai has done throughout his career — especially with Super Smash Bros. — you can't help but wonder what kind of methods to his madness (and I mean that completely complimentary) he utilizes. Fortunately, an interview with The Guardian from back in August gives us another peek behind the curtain of Sakurai's game development thought process.

When it comes to finding inspiration for creating, often times you'll want to indulge in things that are great or masterful — usually in hopes of emulating the success in your own way. For Sakurai, though, he learned much more by deliberately playing bad video games.

"I went out of my way to play games I didn’t like or find interesting," Sakurai told The Guardian. "Those ended up being a lot more informative for me.

"At home I have literally thousands of games, and I think of them as pearls of wisdom from my predecessors. Game development is very difficult. Nobody sets out to create a game that’s not fun. It’s all of the challenges and difficulties that happen throughout development that determine whether a game is a failure or a success. I think playing those thousands of games is the single best and easiest way to learn from my predecessors."

Sakurai recalls back to when he was studying to become an engineer, but had already been bitten by the video game development bug. He says that he used to work part-time just to earn money to purchase video games, and would do research for what would ultimately become his career path later in life.

Despite his admiration for older video games, Sakurai also takes the time to play the new products on the market. Though he was speaking more about general love for games and not necessarily game development, Sakurai stated the importance of sitting down with new titles to "know what's out there."

"Of course I do go back to old games if I need a refresher, but I think it is important to intentionally play and observe new games, to know what’s out there," Sakurai started. "Games that are coming out now are just incredible; they’re amazing."

"I went out of my way to play games I didn’t like or find interesting. Those ended up being a lot more informative for me"
— Masahiro Sakurai.

Masahiro Sakurai's commitment to game development is truly spectacular. In the past, the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate developer worked himself to the point of injury.

During Super Smash Bros. Melee's production, Sakurai worked for 13 months straight without a day off. We also learned that he would put in 40 hours of work straight and take only four hours off for sleep, which ultimately led to his collapse and hospital admittance.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U / 3DS's development also brought about health issues for Sakurai, as he suffered from calcific tendonitis in his right arm. The condition impacted Smash 4's production, and Sakurai would frequently use his days off to continue working on the project.

Thankfully, the Smash Bros. creator has since dialed by his exhaustive work schedule. Back in June of this year, Nintendo of America told Gameinformer that Masahiro Sakurai has been in good health during the development of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming to Nintendo Switch on December 7th, and we're anxiously waiting to see what Sakurai and his team have yet to unveil.

Photo source: Nintendo.

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