Sakurai Talks Challenge of Fitting Kazuya into Smash Bros.

In his latest column in Famitsu, Masahiro Sakurai discusses the challenge of fitting Kazuya into Smash Bros. He covers the fundamental differences between the two franchises, and goes over how they ended up solving this conundrum. His new column is an interesting read to be sure.

Sakurai Talks Challenge of Fitting Kazuya into Smash Bros.

In the latest issue of Famitsu, Masahiro Sakurai (director of Super Smash Bros.) discussed the latest DLC fighter. Specifically, he talks about the challenge of fitting Kazuya into Smash Bros. This edition of Sakurai’s weekly column was fully translated by Nintendo Everything.

Tekken‘s Kazuya Mishima is the 10th fighter to enter the arenas of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The “Sakurai Presents” video below provides a pretty comprehensive look at his moveset. Meanwhile, this new column in Famitsu focuses on the character design. Sakurai details the thought process that went into solving the problem of fitting Kazuya into Smash.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Mr. Sakurai Presents "Kazuya"

Sakurai first notes how the Tekken and Super Smash Bros. franchises are different. Naturally, differences in play style made it harder to stay true to Kazuya’s roots. He also noted in the video that the games have very different pacing. As a result, they had to speed up Kazuya’s movement in Smash. Otherwise he just didn’t play very well in the hectic battles of this game.

“3D fighters like Tekken and Virtua Fighter, though like Smash in some ways, are inherently different games. The former are games of distance. Players gauge the distance to their opponent and judge when either player is vulnerable after attacking. There’s an emphasis on calmly selecting the appropriate options and in some ways it’s similar to rock paper scissors. The latter is a game about positioning. You get KO’d at the border of the screen, so being in the middle of the stage is considerably different to being in the corner or in the air. it’s a dynamic way of playing and is surprisingly similar to playing marbles.”

Sakurai says he wanted fitting Kazuya into Smash to be more about Tekken‘s core concepts. Conversely, he did not want to simply drop some Tekken content into Smash Bros. Ultimate and call it a day. As a starting point, they used Tekken‘s basic body movements, and the power of Kazuya’s Devil form. They kept 1-button inputs for his regular moves, and used all 8 directions on the joystick to add more moves. Another important design choice was to have a hard line between KO and combo moves. Of course, some of his moves had to be tweaked to work well in the Smash format.

Smash Bros. Ultimate x Tekken - Kazuya Mishima Character Reveal Trailer | E3 2021

“We found that command moves from Tekken needed some adjustments because above all, they would be weak if left untouched. Leaving those moves unchanged meant they would have slow attack speed, no reach and a lot of recovery. Keeping with the flow of Smash Bros means moves need to charge up before an attack otherwise they won’t be as powerful. There are lots of moves with this drawn-out motion in Smash Bros, so this just meant we were keeping Kazuya’s moves in line with the rest of the game. It keeps things looking fresh, too.”

In the end, Sakurai said he feels that he and his team found a good “middle ground”. More precisely, he means a sweet spot between Kazuya’s Tekken gameplay, and the standard style of Smash gameplay. With Kazuya now playable, there is only one DLC fighter left. Who might it be? 

Kazuya is certainly a more technical character to play as. However, Sakurai reminds players they don’t have to use all of his moves. He advises us to utilize the ones we can remember and have fun. Sakurai is happy with the job they did fitting Kazuya into Smash, but how do you feel?
Sakurai is happy with the job they did fitting Kazuya into Smash, but how do you feel?x
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