Thank You, Sakurai

Throughout my entire life, there’s been one game having followed me around, giving me endless memories, fun moments, and frankly – love. What the Super Smash Bros franchise means to not only me, but my friends, family, and people all around the world is unexplainable.

The latest entry, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, has finally reached its end. While it stands to believe we’ll get some minor updates and patches going forward, the development of new fighters is done with the release of (the heavily anticipated and amazing) Sora from Kingdom Hearts.

As the tagline of the game says… Everyone Is Here!

What Ultimate has achieved is nothing short of incredible. From getting the band together and getting every single fighter that ever touched this franchise, or from the fact that they almost got every single of the most requested fighters – how impossible it may have seemed. Ridley which was requested since Melee, Banjo Kazooie as the long-standing dream, Sora as the most requested fighters, and Steve as the seemingly impossible icon.

I’ve spent countless hours with Smash Ultimate, but my journey with the franchise began a long time ago. Having played every single entry, and having done so almost religiously at points the franchise holds a great deal of importance to me.

As you might know, I’m a massive fan of crossovers. From the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the amazing crossovers in gaming. Seeing my favorite characters cross universes literally brings me more joy than a good story ever could. That’s why Noctis in Tekken 7, or every easter egg in Astro’s Playroom fills me with so much joy. I love seeing these characters interact.

And the fact of the matter is; Smash might’ve introduced that into my life. I remember being very young and being windblown of seeing Pikachu beat the ever-living shit out of Mario – something I immensely enjoyed. And what could top the highs of Sonic and Snake joining the roster?
Sakurai posts daily screenshots on his Twitter.

In my opinion, the fact of the matter is that Smash might be the biggest representation of what games are supposed to be: Joy.
I get immense joy from most aspects of the game. From the amazing trailers to the fun presentations, to the great gameplay, and to the well-crafted characters that are filled to the brim with love and care put into them.

And at the center of it all, is Masahiro Sakurai.

I feel like companies go more and more by a faceless corporation strategy. Most companies see their releases as “Let the game talk for itself”. While we still see Hermen Hulst at PlayStation, Phil Spencer at Xbox, or Doug Bowser at Nintendo from time to time – we’ve long moved away from the Reggie’s of the companies – the faces that kinda seeps into gaming culture as a whole. The two people I can see that even remotely fit this description at this point (In my opinion), are Josef Fares and Masahiro Sakurai, for widely different reasons.

While Smash Bros is, and always has been a team effort – of course – Sakurai is such a vital part of that. It’s quite clear how much the man cares about the game when you’re watching the Smash directs, which are even called “Sakurai Presents” instead of the normal “Pokemon Presents” or “Animal Crossing Direct”.
The love and passion, as well as the blood, sweat, and tears he’s obviously putting into the game, hasn’t gone unnoticed by me – and seemingly a lot of people feel the same way.

How is this a real game?!

To put this into context: I saw people legit wishing for Sakurai to be the final character in Smash, to honor him and his legacy.
Think about that: Smash is a fighting game, with crossovers. And it does it pretty much flawlessly. And I’ve seen people just wanting Sakurai to be happy, because of the gratitude they feel toward him for what he’s done for the fans throughout the years.

“He can finally rest”, was a sentiment going around Twitter. “Take care of yourself and take time off now”. In an industry filled with hate, and bad antics; It’s pretty refreshing to see that. After the final direct, #ThankYouSakurai trended on Twitter, with people sending him love. It was beautiful to see, and frankly, well deserving.

I will say it right now: Super Smash Bros Ultimate will go down in history as one of my most beloved games of all time. For me, it’s much more than just a game. It’s a part of my life, a part of why I play games, a part of why I love the things I do, and frankly an inspiration to me as a creator.

While I doubt this is the final time we see Smash, I do believe this is the final time we see the entire cast of characters in a game like this. And while I do believe Nintendo and Bandai will work on Smash in the future, I suspect that the future will be without Sakurai at the helm. We might see a different Smash, and that’s entirely okay. Sakurai deserves to finally rest. He created the Ultimate game, and that’s no small feat.

Thank you, Sakurai. For everything.

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