Super Smash Bros. series creator and director Masahiro Sakurai has been open about his thoughts and concerns surrounding the future of the franchise now that development on the latest entry, Smash Ultimate, has finally concluded. And in a statement to IGN, he reaffirmed his thoughts, saying it’s unlikely any future Smash title will be able to keep the same roster Ultimate has.
Nintendo doesn’t have any ongoing plans to make another Smash game in the near future, according to Sakurai, and he thinks it’d be best for fans to not “assume that there will always be another one.”
This lines up with comments Sakurai made in his final Famitsu column that was released in November, where he confirmed that he wasn’t thinking about a sequel to Ultimate even if he can’t confirm that it will be the last in the franchise. Additionally, he doesn’t see a way that the series could continue without him in its current form because there’s too much of himself in the soul of the game.
“The current Super Smash Bros. has too much of my personality poured into it,” Sakurai told The Verge. “In order for a long-time series to continue thriving today, we need to think about eliminating the series’ dependence on just one person’s vision. Of course, this is the way it is now because we weren’t successful in splitting the vision between multiple people before. This would be a challenge for the future and something that needs to be discussed with Nintendo, if there were to be a next installment in the Super Smash Bros. series.”
In that same vein, Sakurai also said he thinks Nintendo would seriously need to think about how to handle another Smash game if one is eventually developed because there’s a large risk of disappointing fans.
Those concerns spawn from multiple aspects of development, including his doubt that the current roster of nearly 100 fighters could be maintained or even expanded in future iterations.
“At the very least, I don’t think it would head in a direction where all of the current fighters are kept and the roster continues to expand,” Sakurai said. “I presume that running such a game on a hypothetical new system alone would exceed the game’s budget.”
Even with those concerns, Sakurai doesn’t think changing the franchise’s direction in a radical way, like swapping genres, will work because then it will lose what makes Smash Bros. so special. But he also said making Ultimate such an expansive title has made it “a tough act to follow.”
Moving forward, the legendary developer is unsure of his own future and he may end up stepping away from leading projects to explore different options, potentially dropping off the map for some time as he said in the Famitsu column.
Sakurai is going to “keep an open mind” about what he’ll do next but does plan to stay involved in the games industry, even if it isn’t in a role he’s held before.
In one final reflection on Ultimate, IGN asked about Sakurai’s thoughts at the end of development and if he feels like his last assignment from the late Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, was achieved.
“Yes,” Sakurai said. “I believe I was able to fully complete this mission.”