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With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate set to launch this winter, director Masahiro Sakurai has stated that one of the game's features that many fans are most excited about has him the most concerned. This latest entry in Nintendo's popular mascot-driven brawler has an insane roster, so the question of "what's next?" has to be asked for the series.
Sakurai penned a column for Famitsu (via Siliconera) about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, its reception following the big E3 reveal and his thoughts about how things are coming along. While Sakurai was mostly positive in his remarks, he didn't hide the fact that this latest iteration's "everything, including the kitchen sink" approach might make continuing Smash Bros. more difficult in the years to come.
I question what we'll do with the next title, and I feel that having 'all characters playable' (for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) may have been a Pandora's Box that could ruin possibilities for what's next in the series.
That's a reasonable concern, specifically because of player expectations and, these days, not meeting those expectations can have unfair consequences for developers. It sounds like Sakurai's big concern is, if every character from the entire Smash series (plus a couple extra) is playable in this next game, where can the series possibly go next without disappointing the fans?
Some would argue the series is due for a reboot. If this is truly the "ultimate" version of the current Smash formula, then maybe the best direction to head next is one that will lead somewhere totally unexpected. But even if that new game was technically great, you can't cut a roster from 60-plus characters to, say, a couple dozen and not expect to ruffle some feathers.
The good news is that Sakurai also said these aren't things he's too worried about right now. Instead, now that the reveal is over, he's back to keeping his head down and working on making SSBU the best game it can be. They'll worry about what, if anything, comes next after this game is well and truly out the door.
The rest of the column by Famitsu is extremely upbeat. Sakurai seemed especially pleased that the "every playable character" surprise did not leak before the Nintendo Direct reveal, as he felt that would have taken all of the wind out of the announcement's sails. Sure, people had suspicions that a new Smash was on the way, but there was very little floating in the rumor pool to grab hold of.
Sakurai also stated that the fan reaction he saw was "amazing," noting that fans got especially loud when characters like Wolf and Ice Climbers were revealed. He said he believes this was not because they were popular characters so much as the fact that they had been in previous games and were not in the most recent iteration. But, again, it's those reactions that have him worried about what this latest roster might mean for the future of the series.