E3 2014 has come and gone, and in its wake fans are left with a heap of new information and reasons to get excited for some of their favorite games. One game that had a major presence during the show was Super Smash Bros. on both Nintendo’s 3DS and Wii U — which we were more than happy to gather hands-on impressions of.

Despite revealing a pair of new characters during the company’s Nintendo Digital Direct, series creator Masahiro Sakurai had a few surprises left in store for journalists in the form of an in-depth question and answer session. We were fortunate enough to be invited to the roundtable, and (after witnessing the unveiling of Pac-Man) managed to learn quite a bit about the impending arrival of the highly anticipated Smash Bros. titles.

While some questions were frivolous, one brought forth a strikingly deep answer. One attendee inquired as how Greninja was selected for inclusion, as this decision would have had to been made well in advance of the Pocket Monster’s debut in Pokemon X and Y. As it turns out, the roster was finalized “a couple years back” and Greninja’s inclusion proved tricky for the Smash development team.

“All of the characters you see here and pretty much all of the characters that we’re still looking at have… were all decided right at the very beginning of development. And Pac-Man… that includes Pac-Man. These were characters all listed on our roster at the beginning of our development process… So, yeah, I mean, if we were waiting to pull something out of Pokemon X or Y, I mean, we would have had to have like this open slot just to see, so that’s… that wasn’t an option for us.”

“Oh, well, actually what they did is they said “You know, hey, here’s our… our Pokemon slot,” and then they said “let’s make sure that we have that and then we will fill it in.” However, if we decided at that point to wait for [the release of Pokemon] X and Y we would not have made it in time.”

Super Smash Bros Wii U Roster Greninja Details

“Actually, you know, we had a conversation within our development staff quite before that. We said “Hey, listen take a look at this, Greninja, and see is this a character that we think would work well and we had that session well in advance of X and Y. And you know, of course, since we did this way, again, way in advance of X and Y we… we’re doing it… sort of our reference materials were just some drawings at that point. The character that we’re seeing in the game right now is something that I took a really, pretty heavy hand in working on, again, because some of the information did come in late for us.”

“This probably creates like a super fast version of reference materials. Basically, he got the explanation of what Greninja was about, this character, and you know he uses these — if you guys remember from a couple years ago at a GDC talk these little flexible models that he used to create his like sort of motion capture basis.”

Super Smash Bros Wii U Roster Greninja Screenshots

Further elaborating on the development process, Sakurai (via his translator Tim O’Leary) confirmed that after gathering as much reference material from The Pokemon Company as was available, the character was locked in from a very early point in development.

“He actually went home the day that he received the information about this character and, himself, with that took all of the reference material, all of the photos they were going to use… by midnight. He just stayed up late and just did them all then and that’s how the end [result saw Greninja added to the game]. Just, like, this super quick reference material creation turnaround.”

“So I guess the answer to the question is that it wasn’t based on his popularity out of X and Y. The characters that we have here we decided were going to be put in the game a couple years back.”

Super Smash Bros Greninja

All of the information divulged from this question is solid insight into how Sakurai goes about putting in playable combatants, and it goes to show that he’s more than happy to work with the developers responsible for other Nintendo games, such as The Pokemon Company, in bringing accurate and relevant representation of various characters to Super Smash Bros..

Another interesting note to draw from these comments are that Sakurai mentions that there are still “characters being looked at,” which could mean his team is still hard at work trying to keep additional fighters from being left on the cutting room floor. It could also mean that some characters may have been shifted to DLC as a result of time restraints.

Regardless, if the roster was finalized roughly two years ago, as appears to be the case, then Bandai Namco and Nintendo have had a lot of time to work on building the largest roster in franchise history.


Super Smash Bros. will be hitting the 3DS on October 3, 2014, while the Wii U version will arrive in Winter 2014.

Follow Riley on Twitter @TheRileyLittle.