"This is a Micro-man poseable action figure. It's about four inches tall and sold all over Japan," said Super Smash Bros. Brawl director Masahiro Sakurai in his morning Game Developers Conference lecture. The veteran designer then explained the figures were used to illustrate combat animations for the benefit of his design team.
"We created virtually all of the animations in Brawl without the aide of motion capture. Everything was done by eye," added Sakurai. "Visually communicating the moves for each character [with action figures] was very useful."
Sakurai later compared the jump animations of Mario and Samus, noting how Samus' leap has much more float to it than the plumber's.
"It's crucial to consider the reasons for this difference," said the Japanese designer. "Especially considering that Samus is wearing her power suit and looks so darn heavy."
As it turns out, the reason for this difference is not because Samus' suit was designed for space walks, but is actually to allow Samus more time to shoot enemies.
"Samus' slow speed of ascent and descent helps balance gameplay," added Sakurai.
Sakurai also went over the character of Solid Snake, a new addition to the Smash Bros. roster in.
"With Snake I really wanted the character to express weight. I'd like you to take a look at the crawling pose here," said Sakurai, showing a shot from Metal Gear Solid with Snake putting both shoulders to the ground.
"That was the way he crawled in that series. But in Smash, I wanted to focus on the aesthetic of crawling," he added, showing Snake in Smash Bros. Brawl, shoulders raised stylishly.
"Most of the time a single move won't require more than a single photo," he concluded.