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Web Video / Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games

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"I want to try and help make games around the world a little more fun."

Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games is an online video channel on YouTube. As the name implies, the series is all about Masahiro Sakurai offering his advice and opinions to up-and-coming video game designers on how to make video games more enjoyable and entertaining for the players who play them, as well as dipping into Sakurai's own history with creating games. Through the videos, Sakurai aims to both entertain people and educate them on video game creation.

The videos are divided into multiple categories:

  • A: Work Ethic — videos about the industry itself, generally giving advice as to how to work in a game design studio and how to present one's ideas.
  • B: Game Essence — videos about game theory and concepts that all video games should employ, such as the risk-reward factor and the release of tension a player gets by winning.
  • C: Planning & Game Design — videos about game ideas and mechanics, and how a designer should implement them into their game.
  • D: Design Specifics — videos about the thinking behind some of the smaller details of a game, such as visual effects or ways to give the player feedback.
  • E: Team Management — videos about how to effectively manage game development among an entire development team and properly communicate with them.
  • F: Graphics — videos about graphical fidelity, ways to implement effects, and tips on how to get the most out of a game's appearance.
  • G: Animation — videos about the way things move on the screen, such as the Player Character's actions or Idle Animations.
  • H: Effects — videos about the way that effects work, how they can be used, and ways to make sure that they show what a designer wants the effects to show.
  • I: Audio — videos about how sound design is incorporated into a video game and the overall effect it has on the experience.
  • J: UI — videos about user interfaces, and how to effectively display information to the player.
  • K: Programming & Tech — videos about subjects that revolve around technical interfacing with computers, such as file organization.
  • L: Marketing — videos about ways to effectively advertise your game to consumers before and after release.
  • M: Grab Bag — videos about things that don't neatly fit into any other category, such as ways to reduce input lag or game award shows.
  • N: Game Concepts — videos about how Sakurai came up with the ideas for each of his games.
  • S: Special — videos that feature unique content beyond the scope of other videos, such as Crossovers.
  • Z: About — videos that explain what the channel is about, or about Sakurai's own personal history.

The channel can be found here for English-subtitled videos, and here for Japanese-subtitled videos.

Tropes used by the show:

  • Alliterative Title: "My Feline Friend, Fukurashi" has this.
  • As You Know: "A Fight Between Live Action and Animation" starts with a very Captain Obvious version of this.
    Sakurai: Super Smash Bros., as you know, features characters from various distinct worlds coming together to battle. (beat) You did know that, right?
  • Camera Abuse: When Sakurai pretends to do a Hadouken in "The Shoryuken Command", the camera screen subsequently shatters.
  • Captain Ersatz: When discussing in "Making a Living Making Games" how it's good to have a first project be derivative, the example used is called Dragon Squat, which is meant to be a very blatant parody of Dragon Quest.
  • Central Theme: In regards to game design, Sakurai believes strongly in the concept of "push and pull", which is the idea of using risk and reward to encourage the player to extract more fun out of the game by testing their limits and pushing their capabilities; Sakurai refers to this concept "as the "game essence" that is at the core of all games that he makes and what he believes games should strive to achieve". That said, as mentioned in "Fun Beyond Game Essence", he acknowledges there are genres of games that don't necessarily rely on this element to be fun or successful, such as rhythm games, visual novels, and simulation games.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: On the crossover videos with Retro Game Master, the subtitles change color depending on who is talking, with Sakurai having a red tinge while Arino has blue. The narrator meanwhile retains the white subtitles from the rest of the videos.
  • Crossover: The October 13th, 2023 episode is a crossover with Retro Game Master, with Sakurai and Arino playing various arcade games together. While it is not the first time the two have appeared together, it is the first time Sakurai has done so as an independent creator. The episode notably combines the visual design of Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games with the narration and presentation of Retro Game Master. This was reciprocated by a special episode of Retro Game Master where Sakurai and Arino play Super Smash Bros. 64. There will be two more episodes on Sakurai's channel with him and Arino playing arcade games, while Retro Game Master will have four more episodes with Sakurai on their end.
  • Cute Kitten: "My Feline Friend, Fukurashi" devoted an entire episode to showing off his cat being adorable, including clips of her kittenhood.
  • Developer's Foresight: In "Voice Recording", the characters used to represent Pit and Palutena's voice actors are different between the Japanese and English releases of the videos. In Japanese, they're modeled after Minami Takayama and Aya Hisakawa, while in English, they're modeled after Antony Del Rio and Ali Hillis.
  • Edutainment Show: In the "About This Channel" video, Sakurai states that his goal is to both entertain people and educate them on video games. As such, the videos are short snippets on concepts while educating the viewer about Sakurai's thought processes and his observations on video games.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The "Grab Bag" videos usually have different versions of the Title Drop occur, with "Guidelines" in particular having the letters drop and Sakurai rotate them around like Tetriminoes.
  • Fake Interactivity:
  • Follow the Bouncing Ball: "Learn to Count Frames!" has this occur when Sakurai is discussing rhythm and beats, with Mario in his Super Mario World sprite acting as the ball, reminiscent of the composer tool from Mario Paint.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Presentations Are All About Speed!", a Title Drop occurs against a starry space background, during which a Crewmate from Among Us can be seen flying across the upper right of the screen at high speed.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Most of the "Work Ethic" videos.
    • "Game Development Isn't a Game": In many cases, you won't have the freedom to work on games you like if you're getting into the industry. You may even be forced to work on games you don't like. Sakurai uses an example of a person who likes really cute and adorable creatures having to create a model for a Flesh-Eating Zombie, even though they think it's gross. But at the end of the day, game development is still a job, and you must put aside personal preferences and treat it like a job.
    • "Try Telling That to the Player": The vast majority of players don't care if things went really badly during development. But even if things go completely awry, it's the developer's job to persevere and come out with a product that their audience will be happy with.invoked
  • Hypocritical Humor: In "Game Music and Ambient Sounds", Sakurai questions at one point whether or not producing too many songs for a single game is ideal. The video then shows a snippet of a presentation on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate pointing out that said game would have over 800 songs, including many rearrangements upon release (and that wasn't counting the many post-release additions thanks to DLC). Sakurai then humorously admits that he's not the one to speak.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: "The Shoryuken Command" starts with Sakurai pretending to do a Shoryuken; even shouting the Kiai.
    Sakurai: I just wanted to try it.
  • Inconsistent Episode Lengths: While each video is usually a few minutes long, it varies depending on which topic that Sakurai is discussing. "Presentations Are All About Speed!" even invokes this, as the video encourages a presenter to get to the point of their presentation when pitching a concept or an idea. To prove its own point, the video is only about one minute long.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:invoked In "Super Smash Bros.", Sakurai shows never-before-seen footage for the prototype of Super Smash Bros. 64, known in development as Dragon King: The Fighting Game. Prior to this episode's release, the only pieces of Dragon King that had been seen by the observable public were screenshots.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: In "Exercise While You Game!", while Sakurai is discussing how there are multiple things to watch while exercising due to subscription services, the first two characters shown on the television are copyright-friendly versions of Sherlock Holmes and Superman.
  • Limited Animation: What little art assets that aren't video game footage don't move around very much. For instance, treasure chest rattling will see the box randomly shift in angle a few times before opening up to reveal a static sword and shield that fly at the viewer.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: In "Mastering Up", Sakurai tells a story about how, in the days before the Internet, a staff member would have to take a train from HAL's headquarters in Tokyo to Nintendo's in Kyoto to hand-deliver a newly completed game's master ROM, hoping that it wouldn't get lost or stolen along the way. As he starts to tell the story, he insists that it's not a joke.
  • Never Mess with Granny: "Do We Really Need Enemies?" starts with Sakurai roleplaying as Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother, with the grandmother explaining the fundamentals of fighting enemies in video games. As she explains, the grandmother is progressively equipped with an axe and black-plated armor.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Invoked in Sakurai's arcade matches against Arino Kacho. They play against each other in various arcade games (ordered in chronological order), and in them Sakurai loses a match when he loses a single life, whereas Kacho only loses a match when he gets a game over. Surprisingly, in the first part of the challenge, Sakurai ends up winning five times, and in the four where Kacho wins Sakurai still manages to show an efficient performance.
  • Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: In the description of "Show and Tell: Some Rare Belongings" Sakurai admits to wanting to show even rarer stuff in his collection, but he wasn't allowed to.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience: "My Feline Friend, Fukurashi" is an episode that has absolutely nothing to do with gaming, and is instead a photo collage of Sakurai's pet cat, Fukurashi.
  • Painting the Medium: Sakurai will occasionally mess with his own episode format to align with what he's trying to teach.
    • "Presentations Are All About Speed!" keeps things short and wraps up in a little over a minute.
    • In "Loading Screens", just after Sakurai says, "not too many people are keen on waiting around while the word 'Loading' lingers on-screen," the series' signature loading bar graphic occurs. Except this time, the loading bar stretches out a few seconds longer as it shudders its way to 100% like it was actually a game that is loading the content from a disc or hard drive.
  • Parody Product Placement: In "Good Errands and Bad Errands", the video's topic is taken from Sakurai's column collection, Thoughts on Playing Games 2, but he has to emphasize that he's not trying to advertise it.
    Sakurai: This is not an advertisement. Wait, there's an e-book version, too? (Still not an advertisement.)
  • Paying It Forward: The channel introduction has Sakurai admitting that he wants to help future game designers so that people can keep making fun video games in the future.invoked
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: Played straight once in "About This Channel". Sakurai then comments, "That was a very YouTube thing for me to ask, but I promise I won't be doing it again in future videos."
  • Sorry to Interrupt: "The Family Computer (and the NES)" starts with the audience catching Sakurai in the middle of playing Ninja Gaiden (and dying).
  • Trolling Creator: Invoked in "The Fiend's Cauldron", where Sakurai caps off with a rather pointed remark towards fans who have been begging for a port of Kid Icarus: Uprising for years.
    Sakurai: It sure would be nice to play Kid Icarus: Uprising on a modern console. I wonder if someone out there will ever port it?
  • Uniqueness Value: In "Show and Tell: Some Rare Belongings", Sakurai displays some items from his personal collection that are otherwise unique to him or a very limited number of people. While this obviously includes the many game awards he's won over the years, he makes a point of displaying some more unusual artifacts, such as a Wii Remote with a Mii of himself engraved on it (as it was created by someone else, it looks nothing like the Mii he usually uses), a 3D printed statue of Pit and Palutena used as a model for the Kid Icarus Float from the 2011 Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival, a copy of Super Mario All-Stars: Limited Edition signed by Shigeru Miyamoto, and an Xbox 360 with his name engraved on a steel plate.
  • You're Insane!: In "Don't Anchor Your Center Point", after proposing that the camera's center point shouldn't be anchored to a character, Sakurai expects this to be his Audience Reaction.invoked
    Sakurai: (beat) You're probably thinking I've lost it right about now.

Tropes discussed in the show:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • Discussed in "Too Much Is Just Right", where he recommends throwing caution to the wind and distorting a character's model or sprite during an animation to make it look more dynamic. As a video example, he uses clips of Kazuya Mishima performing Roundhouse to Triple Spin Kick (in both Tekken 7 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), and freeze-framing to show Kazuya's torso twisting in an impossible fashion. It does help make the move look much more hard hitting.
    • In "Breaking Down Attack Animations", Sakurai mentions how during the initial start-up animation of an attack, the character appears to "skip" to their startup frames without a smooth transition. While a smooth transition would look realistic, this would be rather counterintuitive in a video game since it slows down the animation and attacks require immediate visual feedback once a button is pressed.
    • "Audio as Fiction and Non-Fiction" discusses how inserting realistic sound effects into action-based games often end up making the impact of each hit feel weightless. Japan has always favored Wacky Sound Effects as far back as yakuza movies in the Shōwa era. That said, there is a time and place for realistic sound effects to be used, with Sakurai pointing to Minecraft and noting how the realistic sound design gives weight to the otherwise blocky and unrealistic setting.
  • All or Nothing: Sakurai states in "Sora Ltd." that this is the way that his company works in regards to income. Generally, the company takes contracts that are based on revenue sharing. As such, Sakurai is not paid during the game development process; he's only compensated after the game releases, with his pay being determined by game sales. If a project does well, he earns quite a bit, since he admits he's "never had trouble paying the bills" after starting this way. However, if the project ends up falling through (even if it wasn't his fault), Sakurai is paid nothing at all.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail:invoked Sakurai discusses at the end of "Super Smash Bros." that you shouldn't let skeptical opinions of your work from higher-ups stop you from getting it out into the open. Prior to the release of Super Smash Bros. 64, the Nintendo executives who played the game had very high opinions of it, whereas the marketing team tried to deny Sakurai the chance to release the game because they thought it would be a flop, even though they hadn't even tested the game for themselves.
  • Art-Style Clash: Discussed in "A Fight Between Live Action and Animation" in regards to how the characters in the Super Smash Bros. series either have "realistic live action" or "cartoon" designs. When a character makes it into Smash, their designs are tweaked so there is less clashing of art styles between those meant to be realistic and those meant to be cartoony.
  • Because I'm Good At It: Downplayed. In "Game Development Isn't a Game", Sakurai says he creates games less because he likes them (though he admits that's how it should be), and more because it's what he's good at. There's nothing morally dubious about creating video games for a living, but Sakurai admits he develops games more through talent than passion.
  • Benevolent Boss:
    • Sakurai encourages this line of thinking. A recurring point of discussion in his videos is that a game's development leadership must always be open, honest, and able to accept feedback from their team. "Try Telling That to the Player" is about overcoming difficulties with team problems and how it won't matter to the people who are going to buy your game that things were hard during game development.
    • "Sora's Work-From-Home Strategies" has Sakurai going into detail about how the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate dev team adapted to teleworking throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as his attempts to solve team problems during development. After receiving feedback from a teamwide survey about working conditions and drawbacks to their new working environment, Sora Ltd. decided to personally foot the bill for nearly anything the dev team needed for a functional and comfortable work-from-home environment and allowed everyone to keep everything they got, no questions asked.
  • Catharsis Factor:invoked Sakurai notes in "Squeeze and Release" that the way in which a game stresses out a player should also be the way in which they can remove the tension by clearing the obstacle. Sakurai argues that every game must stress the player out at least somewhat, because it wouldn't be any fun if there was no challenge.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Sakurai mentions that this trope in other fighting games was what convinced him to use Nintendo characters in Super Smash Bros. When new fighting games come out, the player is suddenly introduced to a ton of distinct characters all at once, all of whom have the potential to be the main character of their own story. Sakurai felt that this approach would be very overwhelming for newcomers when applied to a console game as opposed to an arcade game (where a character can catch the attention of a bystander through the Attract Mode or another player using them), and the idea to use existing Nintendo characters stemmed from the idea that it would be easier for new players to get into the game if they already knew who the characters in the game were.
  • Covers Always Lie: In "Paint An Accurate Picture Of Your Game" Sakurai discourages the use of the trope, arguing that a game's cover should be an accurate representation of a its content, characters, and tone. The one time he feels that he veered close to this trope was the Japanese box art for Kirby Super Star, which used a simple image of Kirby and the game’s title burned into a piece of wood at the suggestion of Shigesato Itoi. While Sakurai lamented that the monochromatic box art didn't match the colorful and vibrant world of Kirby, he still feels that the cover art was appropriate since it paired well with the simplicity of Kirby’s design.
  • Crack is Cheaper: Defied in "The Price of Games". Sakurai states that the price of a game is meant to be reflective of the amount of content it offers, and usually ends up being a stark contrast to the amount of money and assets that are used up when creating a game in the first place, which is relatively cheap, all things considered. He does mention that the topic may vary between countries and what their inflation rates are like, but most of the recollections come from his firsthand experiences.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Sakurai notes that the idea of the knockback system in Super Smash Bros. was made with the intent of introducing player skill when in a disadvantage state so as to avert this as much as possible. In other fighting games, it was fairly common for newbies to get crushed by skilled players who knew how to use Combos, during which a player on the receiving end could do next to nothing while they watched their character get thrown around until they were K.O.'d.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Discussed in "My Feline Friend, Fukurashi", in which Sakurai mentions that, in a home with a cat, it is rare for much time to go by without someone commenting on how cute the cat is.
  • Disguised Horror Story: Discouraged in the "Paint an Accurate Picture of Your Game" video, where Sakurai argues that no matter how much you want to surprise people, it's more important to make sure people get an accurate impression of your game. He uses a horror game disguised as a cozy farm sim as an example of what not to do because it's likely to alienate players — people who appreciate horror will be turned off by the game's harmless appearance, and people who buy it expecting a fun farm sim will be upset.
    Sakurai: Imagine buying a banana, only to have it taste like an apple. That's not right, now is it?
  • Downer Ending: "Canceled Games" states that game cancellation, unless it's done in a game development process that isn't cost-effective, is the worst possible thing that could happen to an in-the-works game and the company behind it, as not only are the efforts of all the passionate game developers All for Nothing, but the money spent by the game company for budgeting resources and assets end up going out the window as a result, leaving them worse off than if they had seen the game through to completion.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: "The Fiend's Cauldron" has Sakurai reviewing the positives and negatives about the titular mechanic from Kid Icarus: Uprising, how it plays into the concept of risk vs. reward, and how he feels it competes with "regular" difficulty settings in other video games.
  • Dynamic Loading: Discussed in "Loading Screens", where he goes over how the first Resident Evil disguised its room loading process with the now famous door-opening animations. This not only helped disguise the loading process but heightened the tension of whether there would be a zombie or other such enemy in the next room or not.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In "You'll Forget the Hardship, But the Game Will Endure!", Sakurai encourages this line of thinking. Sakurai says that one should remember that lots of people are going to play your game, and one person's hardship is a small price to pay for that. That doesn't mean you should put yourself or your team through a lot of unnecessary hardships, but that cutting corners is going to haunt you for a long time. Sakurai brings up a moment at the ending of Kirby's Adventure where the screen was supposed to flash white, but it shakes instead. Even decades later, Sakurai still hasn't forgotten this slip-up.
  • Easter Egg: In "Distinguishing Between Major and Minor Elements", Sakurai mentions how the background designers for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate added several tidbits without his explicit permission that are nearly impossible to notice without dev tools. These include an Extra Life hidden behind a waterfall on Spiral Mountain and a model of Brick Road that can be seen inside Dungeon Man's head in Magicant. Sakurai generally doesn't mind the designers including these easter eggs, but he had to tell them to tone it back once he realized that his designers were taking it too far in some places. He cites the example of making the tires on the cars turn in Moray Towers, which is impossible to notice since the player cannot see the tires of the cars. Sakurai told his team to take out the moving tires, since programming this despite the fact that no one could see it in normal gameplay would cause a performance drop with no benefit.
  • Edge Gravity: Discussed in "Behavior at Ledges", where Sakurai gives multiple examples of how developers tackle when or when not a character should fall off a ledge, such as only occurring during certain moves, only when intentionally pushing a character over an edge, or even automatically course correcting regardless of joystick position.
  • Enjoy the Story, Skip the Game:invoked Discouraged. Sakurai remarks in "Fun Beyond Game Essence" that a good story alone will not make for a good game; for a game to truly shine, it has to be fun to play as well. Sakurai encourages visual novels to embrace the interactive nature of their software medium and other genres to have good gameplay alongside the writing to be a product whose sum is greater than its parts.
  • Ensemble Cast: Discusses this trope in his video on Super Smash Bros. 64. He notes that one struggle for console fighters is the abundance of characters who could all potentially be main protagonists or poster boys. To illustrate his point, he shows clips of obscure fighting games like Zero Divide 2, Twin Goddesses, and Battle Monsters, along with the usual suspects.
  • Good Bad Bugs: invoked"Let Players Cheat the System" encourages the use of mechanics overlooked in the game development process which allow for players to create exploits not intended by the developers (as long as they don't break the game's foundation). While such bugs or exploits weren't intended by developers, it creates a more memorable and potentially more fun experience for players.
  • Hit Stop: Encouraged in the "Stop for Big Moments" video. Sakurai goes over how a brief stop when the player hits something or takes damage makes it feel like the attacks onscreen have impact. He shows various forms of feedback when the player character dies, such as stopping everything, making the screen shake, and slowing things down during a death animation. In "Eight Hit Stop Techniques", he goes into more specific detail by discussing techniques he used in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • Idle Animation: "Assigning Animations" goes into detail about Sakurai's process, and why it's important to think about how a character moves, even when they're standing still. He also talks about the way animators have to fill in the gaps when it comes to animations.
  • It's Easy, So It Sucks!: Sakurai discourages this line of thinking. When discussing his work on the Kirby series, Sakurai explicitly made a game that was easy to play so that players of any skill level could complete it in order to have wider appeal. It worked for Kirby, and the franchise took off. Even after creating the Power Copying mechanic for more gameplay depth in Kirby's Adventure, Sakurai designed the game explicitly so the copying was optional, and that it was still easy to pick up.invoked
  • Jump Physics: Discussed, appropriately enough, in a video called "Jump Physics". Sakurai discusses how jumping is programmed — generally, giving the jumping character upwards momentum and applying gravity on each frame until the character begins to fall. Sakurai also discusses jumping in Super Smash Bros. and how there's a slight delay in jumping because it allows the player to use up-attacks without jumping if they need to.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • In "Making a Living Making Games", Sakurai states that should you find that your first video game goes horribly wrong in development, it's okay to give up, as you'll realize that the career path of game development just isn't for you.
    • "Canceled Games" has Sakurai discuss why games get canceled. The efforts of all the passionate game developers will be All for Nothing, and the money spent by the game company will go out the window. For a game to have the plug pulled on it, a cost-benefit analysis has to be done to show that the likely profits from the game won't match its development cost. While Sakurai says that it's an outcome to be avoided if at all possible, a company has to know when it's time to pull the plug if the game simply isn't going to work out.invoked
  • Licensed Game:invoked
    • In "Fun Beyond Game Essence", Sakurai argues that the main goal of a licensed game is generally to entertain established fans of the game's intellectual property with an enjoyable experience in the world of that IP over making new fans, in the same vein as other pieces of merchandise for that IP like the toys and The Movie.
    • He further discusses The Problem with Licensed Gamesinvoked in "Faithfulness Comes First in Licensed Games".
  • Loads and Loads of Loading:
    • "Say No to Slow!" completely discourages this trope, acknowledging that any amount of time in which the player isn't allowed to play, if it doesn't have anything worthwhile going on during it, is a complete waste of time for the player.
      Sakurai: This might sound like an exaggeration, but I'll say it anyway: To make players wait is a sin!
    • He acknowledges in "Loading Screens" that some loading is unavoidable, but devs should attempt to make it an immersive part of the game, or barring that, at least make the indicators simple or have the loading screens tie into the game's atmosphere thematically.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Sakurai says in "Meteos" that he was completely out of his element when working on Meteos, because he's extremely bad at Falling Blocks games. He's particularly awful at Puyo Puyo, since the multicolored Puyo give him a headache.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: In "Squeeze and Release", Sakurai says that a game with nothing to stress out the player isn't a fun one to play. By definition, a game has to throw obstacles at the player to stop their progress, all so that a player can clear the obstacles and move on.
  • Nostalgia Filter: "That Was Then, This is Now" touches upon the concept of comparing old games to new games. Sakurai acknowledges that while games in days past tend to be more inventive and experimental in nature before the modern concepts of game design were formed, games have objectively improved technologically and in scale over the years and the tinted lenses that we view old games through tend to be a byproduct of our impressionable youth. Sakurai claims that while video games wouldn't have made it this far without the games of years past, we should always welcome new games and keep an open mind towards new things.
  • Orchestral Version: Sakurai discusses his work with the "♪ PRESS START" orchestra concert series, which includes deciding with game songs are suitable for being rearranged to be played by a live orchestra. He also mentions how he was inspired by a previous video game concert series hosted in the 1990s by Koichi Sugiyama.
  • Poor Communication Kills: "Sharing Info Within a Team" is Sakurai discussing how to avert this. Sakurai says that a team can sometimes lose sight of what it is they're working towards, comparing it to someone making a screw for a car without knowing what that screw is going to be used for. Sakurai says he tries three things to keep everyone's communication open: a daily report to post progress and news, a Screenshot of the Day with a screenshot that people can comment on, and a project presentation every few months for each part of the dev team to show off their progress. Sakurai says that all of this is not only helpful to let everyone know what's going on, but it helps avert people "feeling like cogs in a machine".
  • The Problem with Licensed Games:invoked Sakurai acknowledges that licensed games don't have a great reputation in "Faithfulness Comes First in Licensed Games". He explains that since such games are being translated from other mediums, they may have stories and settings that don't play to gaming's strengths; and that devs can't really deviate from what's already been established. He also points out that the priorities of these games are different; fans of the license just want to immerse themselves in the franchise, so the actual "game" aspect isn't as much of a priority for them or for devs.
  • Prolonged Prologue: Discouraged in the "Just Let Them Play!" video. Sakurai says that taking too long to get to the gameplay of a game will just turn players off, and that trailers won't be helpful if a player can't even tell what kind of game it is. Sakurai argues that a player should have to wait three minutes at most before getting to a part of a game where they're in control.
  • Sequel Escalation: In "Super Smash Bros. Melee", Sakurai mentions how the concept behind Melee was rather simple: Super Smash Bros., but better.
  • Shoryuken: "The Shoryuken Command" has Sakurai giving a detailed analysis on the Shoryuken from Street Fighter (and its contemporaries by extension, such as Haohmaru's Ougi Kogetsuzan and Yu Narukami's Big Gamble), explaining how he believes it encapsulates the concept of risk vs. reward, from inputs to execution.
  • Show, Don't Tell: "Supervising Art Through Retouches" explains how the best way to get your point across when making revisions to background art and setting details is to actually make those revisions and present them, rather than vaguely describing what the revisions should look like.
  • Some Dexterity Required: Sakurai remarks in "Super Smash Bros." that the increasing complexity of fighting game inputs was what lead him to developing Smash's simple control scheme. Geese Howard's Raging Storm from The King of Fighters '96 and Haohmaru's Tenha Fujinzan from Samurai Shodown II, both infamous "pretzel motion" inputs from SNK, are demonstrated for reference.
  • A Taste of Power: Recommended in "Just Let Them Play!" as a means to get the player into the gameplay as soon as possible, including having the player start as a character other than the main protagonist (even if they are more powerful) if it suits the game.
  • Tough Act to Follow: "Competing with the Past" discusses how games in the modern era still have to compete with the expectations set by games of the past, and as such, need to offer variety and inventiveness to stand out from the crowd.invoked
  • Troubled Production: The video "Try Telling That to the Player" says that production troubles, setbacks, and delays are not things you can easily convey to the players of your game. Also, you may run into people on your development team who prioritize ease for the game creators rather than fun for the players, which Sakurai admits is understandable but to be avoided as much as possible. In any case, Sakurai discourages making excuses for why things turn out badly, because players "aren't going to cut you slack just because development was hard".invoked
  • The Twelve Principles of Animation: "Too Much is Just Right" encourages Exaggeration (as well as some Squash and Stretch) to better convey the action on the screen. He also stresses the importance of Anticipation and Follow-through in other videos.
  • Unlockable Content: In "Planning Your Game's Rewards", Sakurai mentions the importance of giving worthy rewards to the player once they meet major achievements, and cites examples of special contents that can be introduced this way, such as game specific collectables (in the case of Super Smash Bros, they would be the trophies, stickers and spirits), Secret Characters, and the ability to replay story cutscenes and soundtracks. He also mentions the Achievement System used in his games as an example of how to help the player keep track of all the possible feats that lead to unlockable material.
  • Violence is the Only Option: "Do We Really Need Enemies?" questions the fact that most games involve fighting enemies, with Sakurai noting that "all the shooting, smashing, and slicing!" in gaming can be off-putting to an outsider. He explains that the point of enemies is to provide an obstacle that provides stress for the player, for the purpose of releasing that stress by defeating them. There are other ways to cause and release stress, like having the player save up for an item to buy in-game, and he points to the Pacifist Route in Undertale as possibly even more of a challenge than just killing enemies outright. Not every game needs enemies, but there needs to be some kind of obstacle to overcome.
  • What Were They Selling Again?: Discouraged in "Painting an Accurate Picture of Your Game". Sakurai states that a game's advertising and box art needs to be emblematic of what the game itself is actually like, so that it doesn't end up alienating those interested in the game or fans of the series it's part of. Sakurai's most abstract box art is the Japanese box art for Kirby Super Star, but it still has a purpose. By suggestion of marketing legend Shigesato Itoi, the box art is designed to look like paulownia boxes, which are notoriously expensive, signifying that there's a big, rich "deluxe" game experience on the inside as per the original Japanese name of the game.
  • Work Hard, Play Hard: In "How I Stuck With My Column", Sakurai says that if you want to fully commit to something, don't treat it as anything serious and view it more as a pastime. Doing so will lift the burden of expectations.


Video Example(s):


Sakurai on Impact Sounds

Masahiro Sakurai talks about the tendency for Japanese movies and games to have exaggerated sound effects for action scenes, then points out how strange it would feel if they didn't do that.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / KungFoley

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