The outrage over the Super Smash Bros. clone characters has been heard and duly noted by director Masahiro Sakurai, but he believes that “a lot of them [fans] are children and it cannot be helped.” If you’ve been out of the loop, know that the latest entry in the Smash Bros. series added Dark Pit and Lucina, which some fans consider to be no more than re-skinned versions of Pit and Marth.
In the latest Famitsu column, Sakurai explains the decision to create clones of Lucina, Dark Pit, and Doctor Mario.
“There are 3 fighters [Lucina, Dark Pit, and Doctor Mario] that are alternate models (clones) in the game. Each was originally a color variation, but during development, they were given balanced characteristics. Since their functionality had differences, forms were separated from each other. However, it was vital that this didn’t increase the required man-hours. Some relative tuning was sufficient as it wasn’t necessary to create balancing from scratch.”
And it makes sense from a production standpoint. Had the company made the characters completely different from one another, it would have increased the man-hours and cost involved in development. The team did, however, attempt to make the lot as unique as possible, going so far as to give Lucina distinct sword properties, Dark Pit a special arm and final smash, and Dr. Mario his own customizable set — all without the headache of re-balancing the entire roster.
If you couldn’t tell from the previous quote, or from the mans attitude toward the subject in general, Sakurai is a little riled about the complaints; something he makes clear in some of his comparisons.
“This is like a free dessert after a luxurious meal that was prepared free of charge. In a restaurant with this type of service, I don’t think there’s anybody who would say, ‘Change this to a meat dish!!'”
“Yet, I’m told [to do that] about Smash Bros. But, I guess since a lot of them are children, it cannot be helped.”
Oh! Now you’ve gone and done it Smash fans! Sakurai’s giving you a comped dessert and a “luxurious” free meal and you’re asking for something else entirely! It doesn’t end there, though. Sakurai leaves with a little sage wisdom for those not in the internal affairs of Smash Bros. development.
“Could you please leave it to me to select [characters] with man-hours and costs in mind? However you look at it, the game is a great bargain buy as a result.”
Sakurai just wants a little appreciation for providing extras in the first place. After all, the characters could have just remained basic variations and we’d have missed out on Dark Pit’s “unique” arm altogether. In the end, it’s just a bit of added content that doesn’t push the game out of its intended schedule or budget. It’s not absurdly priced DLC; it’s not a desperate afterthought, outrage is hardly necessary. Indeed, it doesn’t make the game, but it also doesn’t break it in any way, shape or form.
You can also think of it this way: in the wonderful digital age that we live in, developers can constantly make changes to their games. Characters can be nerfed post-production and new things can be added ad infinitum. Have a little optimism, and believe change is on the horizon (however unlikely that may be). This isn’t the last Smash Bros. game; if your desired changes didn’t make the cut, keep complaining. Maybe they’ll make an appearance in the next one.
In the meantime, enjoy the excellent 3DS version of Smash and keep your eyes peeled for the Wii U version coming November 21, 2014.
Interview Translation: Nintendo Everything