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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sequel will take time, Sakurai says

"We don't have someone who can simply take the reins."

A still from Masahiro Sakurai's video discussing the development of the Smash Bros. series.
Image credit: Masahiro Sakurai

Masahiro Sakurai, chief developer behind Nintendo's hugely-successful Super Smash Bros. series, has discussed the future of the franchise and his involvement in it.

Sakurai has previously discussed his possible exit from the series after working on it for much of the past two decades. In 2021, with DLC support for Smash Bros. Ultimate finally beginning to wind down, Sakurai even discussed the idea of retirement.

Now, however, Sakurai appears to have changed his mind.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gameplay.Watch on YouTube

"What happens next time?" Sakurai pondered in his latest YouTube video discussing game development. "I mean whatever comes after Smash Bros. Ultimate. One option would be to separate the series from the original creator. But for now, at least, I can't really imagine a Smash Bros. title without me.

"You might think that's a natural stance for someone in my role, but I say so speaking objectively. I feel the same way [former Nintendo president Satoru] Iwata did when we formed the team for Smash Bros. Brawl. At present, we don't have someone who can simply take the reins..."

Sakurai also discussed the challenges of following Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - a game designed to be the pinnacle of the series, with every playable character from its history included, alongside many new Nintendo faces and other guest characters.

Simply replicating that, Sakurai has said in the past, would be an enormous challenge.

So, what's the solution? Sakurai says this is something that will take time to figure out.

"Smash Bros. is a massive, important title for Nintendo, so it's fair to assume there will be another one at some point, but it’s going to take some work to figure out exactly how to make that happen," he said.

"For my part, I'd like to keep working with Nintendo however I'm able."

Back in 2021, Sakurai wrote in his weekly column for Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu that it would "be nice to have a bit more free time".

"There's something pretty attractive about the idea of early retirement, right?!" he wrote. "The question of 'How much longer can I keep working at this job?' does cross my mind pretty often."

Later that same year, Sakurai revealed he had tried to pass on the baton and leave Smash Bros. series development behind, but that it "hasn't worked out".

Sakurai has repeatedly discussed the pressure of continuing to develop the series over the years, and the physical toll it has taken on him.

In 2019, Sakurai admitted using an IV drip to continue working while unwell rather than take a break, but said he had begun forcing himself to leave the office each evening before 10pm.

In 2013, Sakurai told fans he was concerned development of the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash Bros. could be impacted by pain in his hand and arm diagnosed as calcific tendinitis, which had caused some of his muscles to rupture.

A year later, in 2014, Sakurai said the Wii U version of Smash Bros. was likely to be his last, as the pressure of improving each game "wound up tightening the noose around my neck".

For its part, Nintendo has said it will not release the Switch's successor before April 2024.

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