Sakurai details how Kirby gameplay inspired Smash knockback mechanic

Masahiro Sakurai has revealed how Kirby led to an iconic Super Smash Bros. mechanic.


The release of Sora in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in 2021 marked the end of development for the most ambitious entry in the platform fighting series. After closing that chapter, legendary director Masahiro Sakurai created a YouTube channel to share insight and tips for budding game developers. In one of his latest videos, Sakurai revealed that Kirby inspired the iconic knockback gameplay mechanic in the Super Smash Bros. games.

In Sakurai’s 100th video, titled Development Secrets of the Original Kirby, the veteran developer goes in-depth on his work on the early Kirby titles. He reveals a slew of secrets and unknown facts about the games and the process of making them, but one concept really stuck out to us.

Sakurai was detailing the mechanic in which Kirby would go flying after taking a lot of damage. Unlike most platformers, the camera would not remain centered on the pink puffball when he was knocked back due to an enemy attack. Instead, the camera would slowly refocus on Kirby after he had settled. However, if Kirby got knocked fully off-screen, the player would lose a life. Sakurai then states “yes—these are the same rules as Super Smash Bros.!”

The mechanic is probably most known for its implementation in Super Smash Bros. It’s officially referred to as Launching and has been used for plenty of Smash-like games over the years. Kirby, of course, is one of the few characters to have been featured as a playable character in every Super Smash Bros. game. He also takes center stage in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s narrative mode, World of Light.

With Kirby being Sakurai’s original project before taking on Nintendo’s crossover fighter, it makes perfect sense that a mechanic from those older platformers went on to be a gameplay-defining feature in the Smash series. Although development on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is complete, we continue to follow the latest stories relating to the franchise.

News Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Scream nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

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