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Monday, March 4, 2019

Don't Let Sakurai Die

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Yet another “Sakurai overworks himself and you don't care.” article.

I've been a consistent advocate for Super Smash Bros. series director Masahiro Sakurai's personal health. Ranging from “A Sonnet for Sakurai” that starts off hoping he doesn't die while developing Super Smash Bros. For Wii U, to writing that he deserves a day off following the release of Super Smash Bros. For Wii U.

And it turns out that hoping he gets a day off wasn't at all facetious on my part, according to this Nintendo Dream interview with Sakurai translated by Nintendo Everything

Check out this ridiculous quote from Sakurai about that topic:

Oh, but I did take some vacation this year for three days (December 22nd through 24th). I don’t think I can take a lot of time off around the holidays, though. We’re still developing our DLC, so my staff would have to handle my share of the work. We’re releasing Joker soon, and they wouldn’t be able to consult with me on him.”
Just so we're clear, December 22, 23, and 24 of 2018 were a Saturday, Sunday, and Monday respectively. Even the Japanese normally get Sundays off. This implies he normally works seven days a week.

Also in the interview is that Sakurai cites that he leaves the office at 10 PM as a pro-health measure, as opposed to leaving the office later than 10 PM. He didn't say when he gets into the office, but I'll assume it's around 7 AM. He has to wake up early enough to get his morning IV drip before going to work, though. ...Yeah, he goes to work with an intravenous drip session beforehand because of his health issues. Along with his wrist and his arm, his stomach has issues too.

I don't think Sakurai sleeps. I don't think he eats, either, given those newfound stomach issues. He'd clearly abstain from that Eating vs. Sleeping Splatfest.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Masahiro Sakurai Mii sleeping Fountain of Dreams Marx hat
Sing to Sakurai, and put him to sleep! He needs it!
(Also of note: he or his team fixed the error from Super Smash Bros. Melee
that sleeping characters have their eyes open in the Fountain of Dreams water reflection.)
(Also also of note: he and his team still haven't fixed Fountain of Dreams's frame rate issues from Super Smash Bros. Melee.
I'm sure that keeps Sakurai up at night.)

That'd explain why Jigglypuff got a buff (shocker!) to the amount of time she's sleeping after she uses Rest—buff in this case meaning she sleeps less. Not because Sakurai likes Jigglypuff and wants her to do better, but he's reflecting his new understanding of what resting is like. Shorter than ever before.

I theorised that Masahiro Sakurai kept undertaking very unhealthy development cycles because he felt he had to, since his former HAL Laboratory boss Satoru Iwata was now the boss of Nintendo, the firm that hired him to do freelance work for Super Smash Bros. 4 and Kid Icarus Uprising. But Iwata is dead is now. Sakurai is still doing his dangerous work... perhaps even more dangerous than before. Perhaps when Iwata was the one hiring him out to do projects, it left such an impression that Sakurai has been on a road to self-destruction... and he's gone past the point of no return, even without Iwata.

He's trying to delegate more to his staff, but according to the interview, he still has to intervene! For example, the team couldn't come up with a fun way to make World of Light work, so Sakurai was the one who had to draw out a map and then place the fights in the environments. That's not delegating!

We must save Masahiro Sakurai, before the worst happens to him.


But there's nothing worse to recovery than constantly being assailed by people demanding that their favourite character get in the game as downloadable content. Please leave Sakurai alone. The game has more than enough fighters and content as it is. Too bad DLC has gone from reviled to demanded in a matter of a decade. He'll never get a break.

Even though Masahiro Sakurai has a long, enduring grudge against Ludwig (even more on that later), Ludwig genuinely cares about Sakurai's health and continued existence. That's why Ludwig doesn't want Sakurai working on these large projects anymore, if he has to be working on making games at all. Ludwig additionally wonders who gets less sleep working very hard: Masahiro Sakurai, or President Donald John Trump?


  1. Um. You're joking about the IV thing, right? Because if you aren't, holy crap.

    1. From the Nintendo Everything translation:

      Q: Uh, so… Do you take some time off when that happens?

      Sakurai: No, I don’t. I just get an IV drip and go to work like normal.

      Q: Are you serious?!

      Sakurai: I guess I’m a hard worker? (wry laughter)

    2. It's one thing working much longer than the average Nintendo employee (apparently 7.75 hours). I probably wouldn't have made the article based on that alone.
      The IV thing took it over the line.


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