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Article: Sakurai's Loss Of Respect

The Game Developers Conference has just come and gone. Of course, it had all kinds of news and previews of upcoming games, but the main focus was on Super Smash Bros. Brawl, as expected. Masahiro Sakurai, the creator/developer of the game and the renowned Kirby franchise, finally opened up and answered our burning questions about Brawl.

And that's when I lost all respect for him I ever had as a person.

Before continuing, I would like to point out 2 things. The first is that yes, I realize he is Masahiro Sakurai and I am Super Mallow. Don't worry, I'm not confusing our places or skewing our respective positions accordingly. Secondly, just because his name is Masahiro Sakurai, it doesn't mean he automatically gets respect. Like everyone else in my eyes, respect is earned, not given. Not even I can bend that information!

With that said, I would like to point out one thing: I still respect him as a game designer. I have no major reason to complain about his games: I am an avid fan both of Kirby and the Smash Bros. series. However, any designer that makes a game I am highly interested in would get my respect based solely on the game, so it's not like I'm holding him with higher regard than any other game designer out there.

Anyways, that's besides the point. When Super Smash Bros. Brawl was announced at E3 2006, everyone was in a frenzy, including myself. The specific date was May 10, 2006, when the first trailer was shown. It looked incredible, and as it is now, is expected to be incredible when it's released in 2 weeks or so.

But the main thing that caught me was the idea of the suggestions page. For those who are in the dark about it, Nintendo created a form where fans could suggest characters, stages, and other things to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. That, to me, was the greatest thing of all - let's get real: Super Smash Bros. is a fan service, as it should be. The idea that the fans were going to have input on such a mega title was absolutely thrilling to myself and many others.

So I immediately started acting on this possibility. Hundreds of thousands of people suggested their characters. Myself and others became big in promoting Geno and/or Mallow to make an appearance. We were able to get Geno to be a highly suggested character, according to numerous lists about a character's popularity.

Fast forward to early February, 2008. Brawl has just been released in Japan, and everything is now known about the game. Geno didn't make the cut, much to my disappointment, and there were a lot of characters that I would redeem as questionable choices. Still, I was hooked on the leaks, and I became excited for the game once more, especially after America getting numerous delays.

Now it's late February, and Sakurai has started to comment and answer the endless questions regarding the game. One of the comments he made absolutely disturbed me, and that was his acknowledgement of the final character roster. I don't know the exact quote, but he basically said the following:

"The final roster, outside of Sonic, was done by July 7, 2005"

Immediately, there was a huge, huge problem for me with that. 2005? Really, 2005? No, seriously, 2005? That's when the roster was finalized? I was in shock, because it didn't make sense. After all, didn't they start opening up the suggestions page in May of 2006?

Oh yeah, that's right, They did, 10 months later after the final roster design. See a problem here?

So, what does that mean? Well, to me, it meant two things. First off, Sakurai and Nintendo were able to pull a fast one on millions of fans. That's a no-no in my book. Secondly, Sakurai and Nintendo gave millions of fans, including myself, a false hope that was completely ignored by them; the outcome of the roster was predetermined.

With retrospect, it's easy to see what has happened. All of us fans, who put millions upon millions of dollars in these guys' pockets, were tricked for almost 2 years now into believing that we would have an impact on the game. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that they had to include anything from the fans' suggestions, but the mere thought that the fans had to jump through hoops to feel important enough in a way that it didn't matter because the outcome was already predetermined is absolutely absurd and ludicrous and unforgivable.

For a moment, take it from my perspective. I don't claim to be some sort of special person or anything, but I can claim to do more than the average fan. For 4 years now, myself and others have been trying to find some way to revive Super Mario RPG - Brawl was our best shot to have something including, mainly with Geno. We, after all, were the leading vote-getter for Geno in Brawl in terms of having people submit their suggestions through the before-mentioned form. Until the form was closed, we worked continuously, and it turns out that it never, for one moment, mattered what any of us thought or did.

And don't get me wrong - Plenty of other people and groups did the same with other characters such as Ridley and Dixie Kong. I can just relate to the Geno cause, so it was worth mentioning. No matter the group, they never had a shot, just like us or any other person who spent their time to suggest something.

But also take this from my perspective: When all the leaks were coming out, every time I got a rumor about a possible Mario RPG related thing in Brawl, I reported it. If it was a rumor, I said so every time. Yet, since it never turned out to be true about possible inclusions in the game, I was absolutely slammed all over the Internet, especially in communities dedicated to Smash Bros.

That's the difference between being Super Mallow and Masahiro Sakurai. Nintendo and him can lie for years to all their fans putting money in their ever-so-rich pockets, and no one mentions a thing. Again, I'm not comparing us two, because unlike him, I'm not accomplished. But I won't let him off the hook. After all, I don't think I'll be getting the return of my time spent covering any possibility of Mario RPG in Brawl.

Of course, being Super Mallow, I'm going to get both sides of the argument - Fair is fair after all. I know people have told me that this may get them into a potential Super Smash Bros. 4. Still, I don't buy that - the suggestions were for Brawl, not for Smash Bros. 4. And even if fan requests get into Smash Bros. 4, that's still years and years away. It's just not good enough.

People have also told me that I'm just like this because Geno did not get it. Absolutely not. None of this is the fact that nothing I wanted missed the cut. It's the fact that the roster was determined almost a year before the suggestions opened. We, the fans, do not deserve to be completely tricked out of our minds like that. We were all given a false hope that they knew would never matter, yet they did it anyways.

It's just absurd and ludicrous. It's low class. I don't care if he's Masahiro Sakurai and I'm Super Mallow, he shouldn't be praised as golden guy he's being seen as because he is the creator of the series.

I just can't respect someone like that.