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Christmas is no deterrent to the fervid goals of Smash Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai and team (though that’s probably because the holiday isn’t as big a deal in Japan compared to the ol’ U.S. of A.). In his latest Famitsu column, Sakurai discusses topics that have come up since the game’s release — most notably, the reveal of Persona 5’s Joker at The Game Awards. Here’s a rundown (translation courtesy of Nintendo Everything):

  • Joker is not yet at a stage where he can be considered playable, but progress on him is going swimmingly. Sakurai has previously shown a lot of respect for Persona 5 in his columns, so being able to work on the character has been “an endless source of motivation.”
  • There’s an aspect about Joker he wants to talk about, but will hold his tongue for the moment (it presumably relates to his gameplay mechanics in some way).
  • Nintendo approached Sakurai about revealing Joker at The Game Awards. Sakurai thought the timing was grand (“it really was what made the flower that was Ultimate’s release bloom”) but didn’t have any gameplay to show off, so they used an animated cutscene instead.

  • Sakurai came up with the trailer concept after seeing the TGA venue, coming to the idea of Joker — much like in P5 — infiltrating the place to steal its treasure: in this case, an invitation to Smash.
  • He’s quite familiar with the P5 writing style, so dialogue wasn’t an issue. He had difficulty scheduling Joker’s voice actor for the occasion. (It’s unclear whether he’s referring to Joker’s Japanese VA, Jun Fukuyama [Roy], or his English one, Xander Mobus [The Smash Announcer]. Since he alludes to being in the recording booth however, it can be presumed that he’s talking about Fukuyama.)
  • He isn’t sure whether they can do reveal movies for the other DLC characters, but he’d like to do what he can so others can enjoy them.
  • Sakurai is extremely grateful and honored to see Ultimate’s reception post-launch. He’s gotten many letters from fans… many of which tell him to take a break! Fortunately, he’s now able to take weekends off and just doing regular schedule work. “I’d also been living as a recluse up until now, I’m thinking that now’s my chance to go out and see as many people as possible.”
  • Now that the game’s launch has passed, the team for DLC has shrunk somewhat, and will continue to do so. They’ve set aside a budget for the occasion and have a bit of a surplus, which is nice.
  • Sakurai notes that online matchmaking is not going well, and has plans to fix it. He offers no specifics, but has suspicions on what adjustments need to be made.

That’s all for this Sakurai column, though another one will inevitably come along shortly. Stay wired for more.


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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.