On this day 50 years ago, the beloved creator and producer of the Super Smash Bros. series Masahiro Sakurai was born!
Growing up in the town of Musashimurayama, Sakurai is said to have been fascinated with videogames from his youth – eventually joining up with HAL Laboratory at the tender age of just 19 years old, and jumpstarting his career with Kirby’s Dream Land on the Game Boy. It was at this company that Sakurai would meet his co-worker and friend Satoru Iwata – who would go on to become President of Nintendo until his untimely passing in 2015.
Of course, Kirby wasn’t Sakurai’s only big hit while at HAL. He would end up working on a platform-based fighter tentatively titled ‘Kakuto-Geemu Ryuoh‘ (Dragon King: The Fighting Game), before getting Nintendo’s permission to use characters like Mario and Fox McCloud as the game’s playable fighters instead! The game would go on to become the massively-popular Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 console.
From that point onward, Masahiro Sakurai’s life would stay tightly entwined with the Super Smash Bros. series – which has since spawned four more (mostly) acclaimed sequels till today. The first game’s roster of 12 fighters would expand to a whopping 70+ characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch, with even more paid DLC fighters in development as we speak. Sakurai’s dedication to his work was very evident, especially when he revealed in 2013 that he was still developing Super Smash Bros. games while suffering from painful calcific tendonitis in his right arm.
Today, Sakurai is celebrated by many for helping to weave together so many videogame icons into the legacy of Super Smash Bros., and for his work on cult-classic titles such as Kirby Air Ride plus Kid Icarus: Uprising. The world of gaming would certainly not be the same without Masahiro Sakurai – and we certainly wouldn’t have it any other way.
Have a Happy Birthday, Sakurai-san!