Famitsu magazine - Masahiro Sakurai's column, Vol. 597
On 16 January, I announced Byleth, the new fighter for Smash Ultimate. The protagonist of Fire Emblem: Three Heroes. This time I will write about the production background. For the fighter’s characteristics, there is a programme where I explained about it in detail, so please watch that!!
The new fighters are not decided by my own favorites, it’s Nintendo that brought in the talks. Anyway, the theme this time is a high degree of freshness. At any rate, characters from titles with a history of their own tend to get chosen as Smash fighters. The likes of the Hero from DQ, Banjo & Kazooie, and Terry from Garou had around 20~30 years since their debuts. That’s where I want to have a broad swing width.
This time, it was important to deliver an experience of playing as a protagonist of a title being played now right away. So I’m trying to work on a title where the original game was still in development by the time I started working on the production.
I don’t know what Nintendo is planning to sell in the future, so I look up at the decision. And the one that came up at that good timing was Three Houses.
I also understand. First of all, there are too many FE characters. And there are also too many swordsmen. However, it has been decided like that, so I am proceeding as-is. There are more other things that I must think about.
I asked the original game staff for an explanation on Three Houses, and after that I borrowed a development ROM and played it behind closed doors. If the project proposal weren’t made quicker by anyone in the team, the talks wouldn’t begin. For example, if the sound didn’t have a motion, if the motion didn’t have a model, if a model didn’t have a design, we wouldn’t be able to produce.
Such things reach many divergences that include stages, balances, debugging, publicity and more. Although things at the upper stream tend to progress quicker, I am building up the beginning. And for that sake, I need to know the details of the original game.
Normally, I have played and known a considerable amount of games, so if it’s something I have played in the past then both the talks and works will be quick. But I can’t help it when it comes to pre-released titles! That’s why I proceeded through the original game in parallel with other development works. Although there’s also a mode where I could just watch the movies, I still didn’t know the whole picture and the character’s gestures with just that. In the end, I had to follow the story from the beginning, but it has a complex structure with a branch to three parts from the beginning, so I had a hard time grasping it.
However, if I didn’t know the original game properly, I wouldn’t be able to find a good way to squeeze it down. I decide on the specifications of fighters and more by getting a grasp on everything.
There is a problem where there are too many swordsmen in Smash. So there I considered bringing in tactics only for that fighter, and from the intention brought in by the original game’s theme, I thought to adopt the 3 Hero Relics owned by the 3 house leaders into move input directions. I am also devising so that – for example – even with the same bow, they would have a largely different way of using it from Link or Pit.
And the end result is this Byleth. I hope you will check them to see how they are different from other fighters.
For the current valuation, Three Houses is being accepted broadly even in overseas as well. Its sales had surpassed 2.2 million copies, and it also received various awards including those chosen by players. That’s a good thing. There is no mistaking that it’s a good game, so it’d be good if the [amount of] players goes up.
And at the same time, I announced that we are creating 6th to 11th DLC fighters. [I’ll write] about these in the next column. See you again in the next two weeks!!