noun: the best achievable or imaginable of its kind.
adjective: being or happening at the end of a process; final.
Will Super Smash Bros. Ultimate be the last game in the series? Is the subtitle more of a noun, or an adjective?
It certainly seems that this 5th entry in the series is a celebration of all things Smash. Until E3 2018, we were unsure if the Switch would see a simple port of the Wii U game, or if we would get a true sequel. From the moment the words “Everyone is Here” flashed across our screens, we knew that this game was something special.
With every character and nearly every stage reporting for battle, it’s easy to see why some would think this is the climax of the franchise.
Not to mention Sakurai’s constant threats that he may be finished with Smash development after each entry nearly kills him. He calls the games being completed a “miracle” and has battled various physical conditions while new games are in development, often putting strain on his wrists and his sleep schedule.
I believe we’re nearing a time of turnover in Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan. Of course, the President’s chair has seen a few different occupants in recent years, but their stable of developers and directors is also showing its age. Miyamoto-san has been actively raising the next generation of Mario makers, resulting in many of the new ideas found in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s only a matter of years before Aunoma decides that it’s time to retire as well.
Sakurai is a bit younger than his aforementioned contemporaries, but has seen more crunch-time than just about anyone in the industry. He also tends to take on more responsibility than necessary, insisting on doing all the balancing himself by hand. Carrying a franchise as large as Super Smash Bros., with a roster as big as it’s grown, is too big a burden for one man.
I can easily see Sakurai stepping down after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If he had additional games in him, I don’t think this Switch title would have gotten the name it did.
Now, from a business perspective it’s hard to imagine a world without a new SSB game in the pipeline. It’s one of Nintendo’s most dearly loved franchises, one of their best selling series, and is one of their few tenuous connections to hardcore, competitive gaming and events like EVO and Genesis.
I don’t think Nintendo will ever let Super Smash Bros. die, but Sakurai will likely pass the leadership on after the Fighter Pass DLC is complete.