Masahiro Sakurai, the longtime director of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, announced on Twitter that he’ll be back for the game’s upcoming Switch entry. But considering how production on the last game physically affected the tireless developer — as he’s openly discussed multiple times — it’s surprising to hear that he’s planning to return.
“Right now we’re just at the stage where we revealed this game, but I’ve been working on this game in silence day after day,” Sakurai tweeted, according to a translation from fan site SourceGaming. “Please wait until we can release more information, or until release day!”
It’s unknown in what capacity Sakurai is working on the Switch version of Smash Bros.; Nintendo told Polygon it has no comment. Whatever his role may be, there are reasons to be concerned for how his involvement may affect his health.
Following the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Sakurai famously opened up in interviews and his frequent Famitsu columns about just how taxing development on those games was.
“You could say that all the effort in the past to stretch out, keep pushing myself, and provide all these extra merits wound up tightening the noose around my neck in the future,” Sakurai told Game Informer in the months after the release of Smash Bros. on Wii U.
That’s a dramatic way of describing working on a game, but considering Sakurai said he was doing the work of multiple people all on his own, it makes sense that he felt at the end of his rope with the Smash Bros. franchise.
It didn’t help that he also began to suffer from a serious physical condition as he worked on the fourth Smash Bros. In a regular Famitsu column, he described suffering from shoulder pains and joint inflammation that made it hard for him to use a controller or a mouse, especially to do things that required furious clicking. With Smash Bros. so reliant on button-mashing, these symptoms made things way more complicated for the workaholic.
But Sakurai also maintained in his Game Informer interview that he has an inability to just give up on something he feels committed to — even if his work on the Smash Bros. franchise has become increasingly debilitating.
“I also have trouble picturing someone else taking my place and providing all this value-added content without me,” he said.
Whether Sakurai is simply consulting or back in the director’s chair, here’s hoping that he’ll take better care of himself this time around. Super Smash Bros. for Switch is expected to launch in 2018.