We learned earlier this month that Sora from the Kingdom Hearts series would be the last DLC fighter joining the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, and it was truly a sight to behold.
During the announcement presentation, Ultimate director Masahiro Sakurai revealed that in the survey asking players to list the characters they most want to see in Smash Bros. sent out six years ago, the number one response was Sora, too. That’s part of why Sora being the final fighter makes perfect sense.
Sakurai touched on the difficulty in getting Sora into Smash during his reveal. Still, the director’s latest bi-weekly column, Sakurai’s Column 639: The Final One, sheds new light on just how complicated the process was for Nintendo. This comes by way of a column translation from PixelJunk’s community manager, who goes by PushDustIn on Twitter, and translator KodyNOKOLO on Twitter.
This is the summary of Sakurai's Column 639, “The Final One”. Sakurai discusses Sora’s inclusion in Smash Ultimate. @KodyNOKOLO is joining me with this translation and will be posting the second half. Please make sure to follow both of us for the full details! pic.twitter.com/GyBRbKOvUf— PushSusIn (@PushDustIn) October 20, 2021
“Even though he was highly requested, Sakurai thought it’d be highly unlikely to get Sora into Smash,” PushDustIn says in a Twitter thread detailing the translated column. “There’s no doubt that the team involved with negotiations for Smash Bros also thought it was impossible as well. But one day an opportunity came through. At a certain award venue, Sakurai had the chance to meet with a Disney representative. They said it would be great if Sora could get in.”
Sora’s inclusion seemingly started with this chance encounter, which is reminiscent of the literal elevator pitch that led to the creation of Kingdom Hearts (reportedly, a Square Enix executive and a Disney executive were in an elevator together, and the pitch happened during that ride).
“But that meeting alone wouldn’t be able to get Sora into Smash Bros.,” PushDustIn said on Twitter. “The higher-ups could feel differently and talks could fall apart. After long and careful discussions with Square, Nintendo, and Disney, the ok was finally given.”
Sakurai said in the column that Fighter Pass 2 was originally going to have just five fighters, just like the first fighter pass. However, once Sora was given the green light, Sakurai decided to add the sixth spot to Fighter Pass 2. PushDustIn then hands off the translation to KodyNOKOLO, who continues and says that Sora’s Ultimate development was supervised by both Disney and Square Enix, which meant there were “a lot of high hurdles to his inclusion and many guidelines to follow.”
“The first Sora model that the Smash team sent to Disney/SE was very quality and there weren’t a lot of issues...just kidding,” Sakurai writes in the column, according to KodyNOKOLO. “It was quite difficult.”
The Ultimate development team shrunk over the years – the entirety of Ultimate’s DLC took roughly three years of time – and then there was the impact COVID-19 had on the DLC’s development. Sakurai said developing the DLC was equivalent to developing a full game. He also said he feels he will only work on a few more games.
“With Smash Ultimate, Sakurai felt that he was able to offer a celebration of gaming, and he’s glad he worked on it,” KodyNOKOLO writes on Twitter. “Smash Ultimate isn’t an ordinary game, and he’s happy he was able to collaborate with many developers.”
There you have it – getting Sora into Ultimate was just as challenging as most thought. The game is all the better for it, though.
For more about Sora in Ultimate, read about why I think Sora’s inclusion in the game is a perfect series sendoff for the game’s creator, and then check out Game Informer’s original coverage of Sora’s announcement. Be sure to watch some of the Game Informer team play as Sora in Ultimate live today at 2 p.m. Central for today’s Game Informer Live stream.