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'New fighters aren't decided by my own tastes but are brought in by Nintendo' — Masahiro Sakurai on designing Byleth in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Sakurai acknowledges that there are a lot of Fire Emblem and swordsmen reps in the game already

Posted by Justin 'AdaptiveTrigger' Gordon • February 5, 2020 at 6:24 p.m. PST • Comments: 20

Byleth's reveal in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was originally met with some controversy from the community. It's often stated that there are too many Fire Emblem reps and swordsmen that play too similarly.

In a recent Famitsu column, Masahiro Sakurai talked about how Byleth came to be in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Notably, he even acknowledged the sentiment that there are a lot of Fire Emblem characters and sword fighters currently in the game.

"New fighters aren't decided by my own tastes, but are brought in by Nintendo," said Sakurai. "The theme this time was 'something fresh.' For Smash Bros., we tend to always bring in fighters with a lot of history. Dragon Quest's Hero, Banjo-Kazooie, Fatal Fury's Terry, all of these characters first appeared around 20-30 years ago. There's a lot to incorporate from."

"New fighters aren't decided by my own tastes, but are brought in by Nintendo. The theme this time was 'something fresh.'" - Masahiro Sakurai

In this regard, Persona 5's Joker and Fire Emblem: Three Houses' Byleth are actually different in regards to the rest of the Fighters Pass. Persona 5 was originally released on September 15, 2016 while Three Houses exclusively came to the Nintendo Switch on July 26, 2019. These two characters don't have decades of history to draw from like the other aforementioned challengers.

"This time, we thought it important to have a character from a game people are playing right now, and have them almost immediately get to play them in Smash Bros," continued Sakurai. "And so, the timing for 'Three Houses' fit well."

Of course, Sakurai appears to be well aware of the reactions from the Smash community. Undeniably, Fire Emblem combatants represent a percentage of the roster that is disproportionate to the series' success when compared to other franchises.

"I understand what you're saying," declared Sakurai. "First of all, there are too many Fire Emblem characters. And there are also too many swordsmen. But, since it was already decided, I had to follow this path. I can't spend time thinking on it, but must focus on other things instead."

Sakurai apparently made great strides in order to make Byleth seem like a unique addition. Rather than just making them into another sword user, Sakurai considered using the other relics — Amyr, Areadbhar, and Failnaught — into Byleth's moveset.

"Smash Bros. has a problem of having too many swordsmen. So with that in mind, I analyzed what's unique to this particular fighter..." - Masahiro Sakurai

"After understanding everything, I decide on how the fighter should work," said Sakurai. "Smash Bros. has a problem of having too many swordsmen. So with that in mind, I analyzed what's unique to this particular fighter and with the intent of carrying through the spirit of the source material, I had the idea of using the heroic weapons of the three heads of houses from the game, and using these as the directional moves for the character."

Sakurai didn't just stop at ensuring that Byleth had more than just sword attacks though. He also wanted to make sure that Byleth's bow attacks were different enough from Link and Pit's bows.

"Also, even if a bow isn't exactly new for Smash Bros., we've made it so that it differs quite a bit from Link's or Pit's," continued Sakurai. "And at the end of all this, what we have is the current Byleth. To find out just how different the character is from others, I advise trying them out in the game."

A special thanks goes out to Nicholas 'MajinTenshinhan' Taylor for his translation and contributions to this article.

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