Thank Iwata for Smash
Satoru Iwata has had a significant impact on the Smash series as a whole. So much so, that I personally consider him the, ‘second father’ of the series. While Masahiro Sakurai deserves all the credit for the creation and implementation of the idea of Smash Brothers, Iwata was instrumental in ensuring that the series made it into a reality. Today, I would like to briefly discuss Iwata’s involvement with the series.
Most gamers now know Satoru Iwata as the president of Nintendo. However, some fans may be unaware that Iwata actually has a strong history in not only management but with programming. Born in the cold Sapporo, Japan on December 12th, 1959; Iwata started programming games from a young age. When he was 19 years old he joined Hal Laboratory as part-time, where he started his professional career as a programming. After graduating, he was hired full time. Four years later, he would begin his career as a video game producer Hal. At this time, is credited with programming and producing such successful games like Balloon Fight, Golf, and Earthbound (Mother 2 in Japan).
Note: Most of the information here came from this site.
Super Smash Bros:
Even though Iwata was Masahiro Sakurai’s supervisor at Hal, they enjoyed a close working relationship and respected each other. Iwata produced two of Sakurai’s Kirby games. Later, when Sakurai came up with a way to revolutionize the fighting game genre, he approached Iwata to help program the prototype.
However, Iwata’s involvement did not stop there. Iwata helped Sakurai receive permission from Shigeru Miyamoto in order to use Nintendo characters in their new fighting game. Originally, Miyamoto turned down Iwata’s idea. Despite this, Iwata convinced Sakurai to demonstrate the idea to Miyamoto while withholding the fact that Miyamoto has already said ‘no’. This demonstration by Sakurai got Miyamoto’s approval, and thus Nintendo All Stars: Super Smash Brothers was officially born.
During Melee’s development, Iwata moved from his position in Hal took the position of General Manager of Corporate Planning at Nintendo. Despite his managerial position, he actually helped out with debugging and some programming in Melee. Because of Iwata’s efforts, Melee was able to release on time. Iwata is credited with a “Special Thanks” in the credits. After Melee’s release, Iwata would be promoted to the CEO of Nintendo, succeeding Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002.
After Melee and Kirby’s Air Ride was released, Sakurai decided to leave Hal Laboratory. Before leaving, he consulted Iwata on a number of topics. To Sakurai’s surprise, a sequel to Super Smash Brothers was brought up. Iwata promised Sakurai that if a sequel were to be made, Nintendo would consult Sakurai. This is because, Iwata believed that only Sakurai possessed the tact and vision to ensure that Smash Brothers was true to its’ source material, while being enjoyable and successful.
When the Nintendo Revolution was announced, Iwata had confirmed that a Smash Brothers game that made use of the Nintendo WiFi connection would be released alongside the console– much to Sakurai’s surprise.
Shortly after that announcement, Iwata and Sakurai met in a private hotel room. Iwata reaffirmed his promise to Sakurai. If, and only if Sakurai did not sign on to making a new Smash Brothers game, then Iwata would have staff remake Super Smash Brothers Melee with online capabilities for Nintendo’s new system. Iwata told Sakurai that he would probably not change anything else. No extra stages, no extra fighters. Sakurai was initially unsure whether or not to sign on to this project, but felt that a full re-release was unfair to the fans of the series. Eventually, Sakurai would sign on and make Super Smash Brothers: Brawl. For additional information about this, stay tune for a full translation of Sakurai’s Famitsu column about Brawl.
There isn’t any clear information about Iwata’s role in “Smash for”. It is important to note that after Brawl was released, Sakurai expressed interest in making a handheld version of Smash for the DS and might consider a new Smash for the next Nintendo system (Japanese). Sakurai ended up doing both with the 3DS and Wii U.
I do believe that Iwata has had a huge influence in Sakurai’s decision to work on Smash for Dlc. During the announcement of additional Dlc, Iwata stated that he approached Sakurai with the idea of a fighter ballot. From a business perspective making some DLC makes perfect sense, and the way that Sakurai is doing it does not contradict his earlier statements about DLC.
All in all, Iwata has played a huge role in Super Smash Brothers from it’s inception. Please take a moment…and please understand.
Yesterday, I wrote about Sakurai’s cat, Fukura. Tomorrow, I will finish either the Brawl translation piece, or write about Michiko Sakurai. I haven’t decided yet.