Masahiro Sakurai is now a YouTuber, and in his latest video, he showed a “never-before-seen” clip of the prototype that would eventually become Super Smash Bros. You can watch your eyes Dragon King: The Fighting Game from 1:25 in the video at the top of this post or jump straight to that moment click on this link.
The dragon king footage is clearly in an early stage of development, but you can already see elements that now form the core of the smash franchise, such as percentages representing health, the iconic three-platform “Battlefield” stage layout, and characters flying from the edges of the screen to their deaths. Fighters were just polygonal people – not Nintendo characters – and they could use moves like smash attacks, air jumps, shields, dashes and air strikes. “There were no special moves, dodges or even items yet, but the rules of the game were basically the same as… Smash Bros.‘ said Sakurai.
Dragon King was one of two games Sakurai was making
dragon king was actually one of two games Sakurai was making at the time. The other was an “RC robot adventure game where you hacked into security cameras to advance,” he said. For both, Sakurai did the design, graphics, modeling and animation, while the late Satoru Iwata, who was also known as a star programmer before becoming president of Nintendo, took care of the programming. In the end, Sakurai moved on to the fighting game because it could be completed faster.
Sakurai talked about some of the philosophy behind it Smash Bros., which to this day is quite different from most other fighting titles. He felt that complicated and combo-oriented games could be alienating. Instead of, smash relies on simpler controls and the accumulating damage system to make players more welcome and encourage improvisation. The addition of Nintendo characters came later in development. While the characters made it to the final game, of course, Nintendo’s wholesalers and sales teams “rejected the idea of having Nintendo’s characters beat each other up” prior to release, Sakurai said. (The first Smash Bros. was also the match that decided Kirby’s now distinctive voice.)