‘Smash Bros.’ Director Masahiro Sakurai Discusses The Hero’s & Banjo-Kazooie’s Inclusions In ‘Ultimate’

Banjo-Kazooie join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo/Microsoft)

Banjo-Kazooie join Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo/Microsoft)

Game director Masahiro Sakurai has helmed all six Super Smash Bros. titles,  pulling heroes, villains and side characters from countless gaming franchises in his crossover series. Last year’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the series’ latest installment, and Sakurai is still working on it, developing DLC fighters to expand its already massive roster. Persona‘s Joker snuck in earlier this year, and at E3 Nintendo announced the next two newcomers: Dragon Quest‘s Hero and Banjo-Kazooie.

Sakurai also has a recurring column in Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu. He often discusses the games he’s playing or other curious happenings therein, but in this week’s issue he discoursed the inclusions of the two aforementioned newcomers. PushDustIn, Source Gaming founder and a well-respected translator in the Smash community, translated the column and posted the details in the following Twitter thread:

To summarize, the Hero and Banjo are the second and third content packs to join the Fighters Pass, Ultimate‘s five-character season pass. While Sakurai appeared eager to discuss both newcomers’ movesets and intricacies, he instead opted to focus more on how they got into Smash.

Dragon Quest is a seminal series that debuted in 1986, but this is the first opportunity Sakurai has had to work on the property. He was anxious about the responsibility that came from handling the storied series, adding how he decided Hero’s Final Smash “would have past characters from Dragon Quest to showcase the series.”

When thinking of Dragon Quest, Sakurai also “wanted to include the legendary Command Prompt.”

Continuing, Sakurai mentioned how there “is actually a restriction on which Dragon Quest protagonists can fight with each other,” but those restrictions were lifted here. Sakurai notes how Dragon Quest VIII‘s lead “was a request from Western fans.” The Heroes will have voice acting too, although that wasn’t originally the case; the initial plan was to keep them silent as the Dragon Quest leads tend to be in their home series, but Dragon Quest XI included voice acting, spurring Sakurai to change plans. All four Heroes will speak, and most of their voice actors will be revealed later.

Shifting to Banjo and Kazooie, Sakurai acknowledges their inclusion was a very requested one by Western fans, comparing them to Metroid‘s Ridley and Donkey Kong‘s K. Rool. As to be expected, Sakurai says it was “difficult” to add them to the roster. The duo debuted on the Nintendo 64 as new mascots for its namesake manufacture, but that changed in 2002 when Microsoft purchased British developer Rare. Rare retained the Banjo license following Microsoft’s acquisition and later released a third entry for the Xbox 360, titled Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts. However, getting the rights to use Banjo and Kazooie were easy “this time,” and he offered his thanks to Rare for their assistance. Sakurai adds how the conventional wisdom is that you shouldn’t help your rivals, but the console wars concept is one he rejects.

Our friends at Source Gaming have produced a video summarizing Sakurai’s latest column, which can be enjoyed below:

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