Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of the legendary Super Smash Bros. series, doesn’t think the fighting game franchise is a good fit for online play.
As part of a new YouTube video, Sakurai explained some of the intricacies of developing Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii, which had online support. “I don’t think online play and Smash Bros. are a very good fit for each other,” Sakurai said in the video.
“One of the best parts of Smash Bros. is how players can become champions among their friends. But being subjected to online competition can cause people to lose confidence, which isn’t great.”
Sakurai then went on to explain that Smash Bros. uses fully synchronous communication, and compared it to Mario Kart, which utilizes asynchronous communication. “You’re limited to playing with people as close to you as possible, so it works best sticking not just to your own country but your own local region within it. Plus, network lag tends to make the game a pretty choppy experience.”
Despite this, Sakurai noted that regardless of his personal opinions about online play, it doesn’t matter. “If my job is to do it, I’ll do it,” he said. After online play was implemented and working properly, Sakurai thought, “Wow, it’s actually possible.”
Since Brawl for the Wii, every Smash Bros. game has featured online play, including the most recent installment, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Other fighting games, such as the upcoming Street Fighter 6, use rollback netcode to circumvent online lag. Rollback netcode essentially predicts what a player’s next move is and then rolls it back to replace it if the prediction is incorrect. In general, rollback netcode is an effective workaround, though the Smash Bros. series has yet to implement this feature.
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