Since Smash 5’s E3 2018 tournament, the world is watching to see if this game is another Melee or Sm4sh.
Smash Bros. Ultimate, often referred to as Smash 5, releases December 7, 2018. With the release date seemingly set, and barring any delays, this means that the gameplay shown off at the E3 2018 invitational could be as close to the final build as we’re going to see.
Will Smash 5 be the definitive version of the Smash Bros. games, or will Melee loyals always stick to what is arguably the most technical game in the series?
In a conversation with the Washington Post, Smash series director Masahiro Sakurai spoke of fan loyalty to the GameCube brawler.
“I think a lot of Melee players love Melee. But at the same time, I think a lot of players, on the other hand, gave up on Melee because it’s too technical, because they can’t keep up with it.”
Sakurai went on to speak of the physical injuries associated with playing fighting games like Melee at a pro level. “And I know there were players who got tendonitis from playing, and messing with the controller so much… that really is hard on the player. And I feel like a game should really focus on what the target audience is.”
This “target audience” that Sakurai is referencing is a really broad spectrum. He may be referring to those casually playing the game to pass the time with friends, a la what one might do with the Mario Party games. However, the loyal fans watching, training, and playing professional or even semi-pro level Smash are still on Sakurai’s mind.
“When you talk about audience, I don’t really think too much about the audience per se. I feel like a game, at the end of the day, is about playing the game. But if we focus too much on the top level players — or the audience — then the game skews a little bit too much on the technical side.”
Money seems to be a big influencer as to why Nintendo, and in turn Sakurai, is shying away from making another Melee-like Smash.
“The philosophy behind them doesn’t go in line with Nintendo’s philosophy in that some of these players are playing for the prize money. It comes to a point where they’re playing the game for the money, and I feel that kind of direction doesn’t coincide with Nintendo’s view of what games should be.”
Whether or not Smash 5‘s faster paced gameplay replaces Smash 4’s competitive scene, it cannot be denied that at the end of the day, Smash 5 feels like a director’s cut of Smash 4. At that, it may be too late to teach “old dogs news tricks” within the fervent Melee fanbase and competitive scene.