As announced earlier this month, Sora became Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s final DLC character. But how did Sora, Keyblade and all, end up in Smash Bros.? In his latest Weekly Famitsu column, creator Masahiro Sakurai explains just that.
Sakurai noted how Sora was the number one choice among players for a new character. The Kingdom Hearts character seems like such an obvious choice, too—especially because the character’s name is the same as Sakurai’s company. (This is something Sakurai humorously acknowledged in the reveal, and in a photo caption in the Famitsu article, writing, “Yeah, his name is the same as my company’s.”)
“As I think some can imagine, the barriers for Sora entering the battle were quite high,” he writes. “Even though players’ expectations were great, I honestly thought it was impossible.” According to Sakurai, the team that handles external negotiations thought the same.
However, one day everything changed. “By chance, I met a higher-up at Disney at an awards show,” Sakurai writes in the column. “I talked about how I’d like Sora to join the battle [in Smash Bros.], and I was told that they also thought it would be good if he was able to join the battle. What a surprise!”
After the chance meeting, Disney, Square Enix, and Nintendo all entered into long discussions about bringing Sora to Smash Bros. And in the end, Sakurai got the okay.
But why did Sakurai originally think it would be impossible? When characters come from other companies to the fighting game franchise, it’s not just a matter of adding them to the game. There are requirements, issues, and concerns about how they are depicted in game—companies are extremely protective of their characters. Sakurai and his team, of course, are incredibly sensitive to all of this; however, considering that he would not only need to approach Square Enix but also Disney, I guess he wasn’t initially optimistic.
“Supervision from both Disney and Square Enix is required for anything that Sora does [in Smash Bros.],” explained Sakurai. “It did feel like the various hurdles were high, and in reality, there were various rules in place for development to go forward.”
The development team created a high-quality character model from the start, and production was going more smoothly than Sakurai had expected. However, things were still difficult. In Kingdom Hearts, Sora uses aerial combat, and the challenge was bringing that style of fighting to Smash Bros. in a way that made sense, worked in-game, and was still true to the character.
“I think we got the feeling of the original games,” writes Sakurai. “What do you think?”