Masahiro Sakurai, best known as the creator of Kirby and the current producer for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. games for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, was present at the Tokyo Game Show last month. This year, Sakurai was one of the judges for the Game Desingers’ Award, a part of the Japan Game Awards. Unlike other groups responsible for giving out awards, Sakurai understands how unfair these award shows are. He recently expressed his thoughts in a column he writes for Famitsu Magazine. The magazine is in Japanese, but Polygon provides a translation of this particular column.
Me and the other judges are all busy people and we have trouble getting time for games. If we spent time checking out even all the big-name titles alone, to say nothing of smartphone apps and so on, we wouldn’t be able to make any of the games we’re involved with. We’re free to judge as we like, but if you ask us whether we’re taking a fair, in-depth look at every title out there, that’s not the case. Besides, it’s presumptuous to judge someone else’s title, in a way, since any developer has to give his all to produce any kind of good product.- Masahiro Sakurai
Sakurai then transitioned to how it is important to recognize unique and innovative design techniques. By awarding developers who work hard to create something new, Sakurai believes he’s helping to negate the amount of remakes and sequels that the industry has seen in past years.
Is there any industry that relies so much on reusing and reusing their old title as much as video games? Compared to other media like movies, dramas, animation, novels, and comics, the glut of franchises and remakes is at an unnatural level. – Masahiro Sakurai
As a key member of Nintendo, this is an interesting position to take on sequels and remakes. From that company, we’ve seen remakes of Pikmin 1 and 2, The Metroid Trilogy, Ocarina of Time, and now The Wind Waker HD. Sakurai understands the appeal of remakes, but feels developers shouldn’t become stagnant with just pushing out copies of what they’ve already done.
Good games attract fans, and if you have fans, you have an advantage. You try to use that to make the title something bigger, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to give up on innovation. Popular, well-made games deserve praise, but titles that have some kind of unique creative spark to them also need to be praised in this way. That’s what the judges are trying to do here, and it won’t work if it was just popular majority vote. That would lead to people just voting on names and past performances. – Masahiro Sakurai
Do you agree with Sakurai? Should developers constantly be looking to innovate and create new franchises, or should they focus on polishing and adding to the universes they’ve already created? Let us know in the comments!