Nintendo ended 2018 with a bang as the company launched Super Smash Bros Ultimate to the Switch, the definitive and most content-packed entry the series has ever seen. The hard-working Masahiro Sakurai was once again behind the scenes serving as the director of the game, a title he’s held since the series launched back in 1999. It’s clear based on previous comments that Sakurai takes his job very seriously, though, until a recent interview, it’s unlikely that many people knew just how intense he could get about it.
Speaking to the Japanese publication of Nintendo Dream, Sakurai discussed the development of Super Smash Bros Ultimate as well as his workload. Considering his track record, one would think that Sakurai has earned some leeway with his projects. However, he comes in every day while shouldering a lot of the burden which includes attending meetings, overseeing development, and going hands-on with the game itself.
In Sakurai’s mind, it’s just faster and more accurate if he handles things himself rather than telling someone what to do over and over. Even though Sakurai is considered freelance, he continues to work extreme hours with little to no vacation time.
I’m a freelancer, so I don’t have any strict rules on my time. As long as I can complete the game, I could show up to the office once per week and I think it’d be within the realm of forgiveness. But instead I make sure I come to work every day and write proper daily reports and such. I’m always working, but there’s a lot of things that keep me in good spirits!
Unfortunately, his tendency to work so often and for long stretches of time has caught up with him on occasion. In the interview, Sakurai mentions that he suffered from stomach problems similar to food poisoning. Instead of taking a sick day to rest, Sakurai instead opted to get an IV drip so he could continue to work like normal. While the interviewer was shocked by the revelation, Sakurai went on to admit that even though he’s always working, there’s a lot of things that keep him in good spirits.
The topic of Sakurai’s workload isn’t new as he’s previously referenced it in his weekly Famitsu column as well as jokingly commented on taking breaks in previous Smash Directs. Following the release of the 3DS and WiiU versions of Super Smash Bros, Sakurai even considered stepping away from the series due in large part to the rising stress and the toll it was taking on him. In 2013, Sakurai was diagnosed with calcific tendinitis, an injury which caused him severe pain and slowed down his usual working pace. While Super Smash Bros Ultimate may or may not be the last Smash game fans see for quite a while, Sakurai’s work on this latest game isn’t done quite yet as new DLC fighters are set to be launching throughout the year.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is available now on Nintendo Switch.