Last year, Nintendo announced that famed designer Masahiro Sakurai, who created the Smash Bros. series as well as the Kirby franchise and more recently puzzler Meteos (NDS), had been brought on board to design the Wii version of Smash Bros. despite having left developer HAL Laboratories to found his own studio Sora. Today, Nintendo revealed that full development did not begin until much later, and the game has been "delayed" until early 2007. Previously, company president Satoru Iwata hinted, but did not state explicitly, the the game might be seen at the system's launch.
In a press briefing, Sakurai stated that the control scheme for the game has not been finalized, and may potentially use a GameCube controller. It seems more likely, however, that if Sakurai elects to go with a more standard control layout, it would use the Wii-specific retro controller unveiled yesterday. As far as whether the game will be online Sakurai states that there may be difficulties in satisfactorily preserving the fast four-player action online, but the team is shooting for it.
Though the control scheme may very well be quite similar to that of the previous games, it looks like Sakurai has no plans to simply clone Super Smash Bros. Melee. In an update on the game's official site, he says, " I also want to change the atmosphere of the game itself a little, too. But you'll just have to look forward to how I'll be doing that." To drive the point home, he makes the surprising announcement that renowned Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu will be providing music for the game, which will be performed by a full orchestra and chorus with Latin lyrics written by Sakurai. The main theme is offered for download on the site as well.
We've also got some screenshots, which given the early state of the game were labeled "in development." The official site also has a trailer, containing Snake's introduction to the franchise, which should be amusing to Metal Gear Solid fans.