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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Masahiro Sakurai's Day Off

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Should be "days" or "weeks". Maybe "months".

With Super Smash Bros. For 3DS and Super Smash Bros. For Wii U now released in all regions and the Pic Of The Day ended, what will happen with Sora Limited's Masahiro Sakurai? Well, we know he is stuck having to make DLC for those games like the Miiverse stage (which should be cool) and Mewtwo (who I'm not a fan of). And doing those things takes a lot of work, as I've written before.

But after all of that is done, how about Sakurai gets some time off? The guy has literally worked tirelessly for years. Do remember that he started production of Super Smash Bros. 4 immediately after his previous (and very amazing) game, Kid Icarus: Uprising. As in, coming up with design documents was his way of being able to rest. I guess it's a different kind of work than personally play-testing and coding things in and breaking your arms in the process, but it's incredibly taxing work either way as anyone in the industry can tell you.

So Masahiro Sakurai says he wants Super Smash Bros. For Wii U to be the last Super Smash Bros. game he makes. And... I think he should be allowed that request. I love the Super Smash Bros. series, but Sakurai has stated that he hit his limit a long time ago in coming up with features for the series. (That also gives more credence to my statement that Mewtwo will be the only character DLC.) He wants the series to continue on, much like how the Ace Attorney mainline series is able to continue without Shu Takumi, and pretty much unlike how Mega Man is unable to continue without Keiji Inafune. (Mighty No. 9 doesn't count.) I guess Capcom has all kinds.

Masahiro Sakurai should be like Ferris Bueller and get a day off.
I could've had the whole article be a parody of the movie. Maybe I'll do that at a later time.

Sakurai left Nintendo and HAL to begin with because he was upset with sequelization. And the first thing he did was create Meteos. ...But after that, it's been nothing but being contracted by Nintendo to do what they want. ...Which have been sequels. (Granted, Kid Icarus: Uprising is only barely a "sequel".) See the problem?

It's true that in business and economics, humans are "resources" to be used (hence your local human resources department). They're inputs. But you still gotta treat them right. After all, treating them wrong is what companies like Electronic Arts do.

Unfortunately, it is actually very common for Japanese videogame companies to run their employees into the ground. Hell, it's very common for videogame companies to do that in general, and very common (dangerously so) for Japanese companies to do that in general. Put the two together and you get chaos. Well, in Japan they feel resigned to their fate. Except for Sakurai, who likes to talk about overwork in his Famitsu column and is one of the only Japanese developers to do so.

Masahiro Sakurai is a brilliant developer, but his management style naturally lends itself to him having to overwork himself since he insists on doing things personally. All the ideas come from him (and menus from his wife), which leaves the code monkeys from whatever company he borrowed them from feeling... unhappy, I can imagine. I wouldn't really want to work in that kind of corporate culture: I'm being worked to death, my boss is literally being torn apart, and I have to watch as he sometimes basically does my job for me because he's a perfectionist.

The end result happens to be very amazing games, but the working conditions to get there sound awful.

Sakurai needs to take a long time off and get hobbies again. Stop developing games for a bit. I hope he has some money saved up that he can just take a vacation. I mean, the guy is a freelance contractor, so he can decline projects if he wants. He can say "no" next time Iwata comes up to him and asks him to make Super Smash Bros. 5! And when he does come back from his vacation, he can make the original and truly special ideas that he wants to.

...We just hope that they end up on Nintendo systems, of course.

Ludwig runs KoopaTV a bit differently than Sakurai would run a videogame project, but he ends up doing everything anyway. If you would like to lessen his load, you can take a look at the Jobs section of the site.

Ludwig writes on a brief history of Sakurai's work as a freelancer, and how very unfree it is. Will Sakurai be able to ever work on what he wants?
Even after Super Smash Bros. 4 and its DLC are done, it turns out that balance patches are not. They all ignore a specific character, though.
Sakurai provides some insight into his work schedule. He really doesn't get a day off.
It took seven years, but Masahiro Sakurai finally has days off.


  1. So I guess I shouldn't be asking for a Kid Icarus Uprising sequel, huh?

    In all seriousness, it must be crazy stressful to be a perfectionist in the video game industry.

    (Also, a movie reference I actually get? What is this madness?? XD)

    1. Kid Icarus Uprising sequel in... 23 years, now!

      Being a perfectionist in the videogame industry is probably one of the most stressful positions you can be in. Making videogames is hard enough!

      At least with the "most stressful job in the world" (USA president), thanks to forced separation of powers (unless you're like the current occupant of that position and you want to try to destroy that), you CAN'T be perfectionist and, say, go write Congress's coding... erm... legislation for them!

      (:o )

  2. That picture



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