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Smash Bros. creator doesn’t want to waste one second of your time


Masahiro Sakurai, the celebrated creator of Nintendo character Kirby as well as its Super Smash Bros. platform-fighting franchise, said he once vetoed the inclusion of Dolby Surround sound support in a 20-year-old game because of a loading screen requirement that he felt would inconvenience the user.

The game in question, Kirby Air Ride, was a kart-style racer that launched for Nintendo GameCube in 2003. Sakurai, speaking in a livestream with PlatinumGames co-founder Hideki Kamiya, mentioned this to illustrate how far he was willing to go to get video gamers to the action.

The two were discussing the 10-year anniversary of the Arcade Archives series of emulated video games which, per the series title, delivers games that launched on arcade cabinets to home console users. Sakurai said that Arcade Archives maker Hamster Corporation should shorten the time it takes to boot the games, to more properly deliver that arcade-style feeling of going machine-to-machine and getting into a game immediately.

“Rather than just tossing in a coin and getting into the game immediately, you must click an icon, wait for the logo, wait for the title, look at the instructions screen, wait until everything loads, and then you’re finally at the main screen, after which you can start playing,” Sakurai said, according to a translation.

Sakurai considers all of this such an abuse of the player’s attention that he threw out Dolby Surround from Kirby Air Ride because it added two seconds to the game’s boot screen. For the record, here’s what that looked like in 2003:

“I feel very sorry for making the user wait,” Sakurai said in the conversation with Kamiya. “If you take one second from each user, that means you’ll be taking 10,000 seconds from 10,000 people. The more this repeats over the years, the more time you will cause players to lose.”

It may sound obsessive-compulsive but coming from Sakurai, it’s perfectly fitting with his character as a designer revered by those who play his games. It’s also refreshing to hear a software designer — of any application — stand against extra layers of friction in the user experience.

Sakurai, 53, was the creative director behind 2018’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch, a comprehensive, built-from-scratch adaptation that saw every character in the 25-year-old series (and more) return to the game on modern hardware.

The post Smash Bros. creator doesn’t want to waste one second of your time appeared first on ReadWrite.


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