Gamer Roulette: Namco Crossovers to Super Smash Bros
A couple of days ago, the Nintendo Direct Podcast announced that Namco Bandai would have a major role in the development of both the 3DS and Wii U installments of the much beloved Super Smash Bros. franchise. This is no cause for fret, Nintendo-purists. Series creator Masahiro Sakurai and his development team over at Sora Ltd. will still be overseeing the project and leading overall development. While the decision to bring in Namco Bandai might seem out of place for Nintendo, this choice was not just a great one, it was a necessary one.
The new installments in the Super Smash Bros. franchise were announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) 2011, but development barely began a few months ago. Announcing a game (let alone two) a year before it even begins development is a risky move, and eager fans won’t wait forever without causing uproar. Nintendo knows this, and by enlisting the help of Namco Bandai, the total development time will be significantly reduced. Namco Bandai also aided in the development of Star Fox Assault and Mario Kart GP, so it’s not like the two companies have no history together.
But perhaps the biggest reason for Nintendo’s decision is Namco Bandai’s more than stellar history in the fighting game genre. Tekken, SoulCalibur, Dragon Ball Z, and the Naruto series of fighting games were all developed by Namco Bandai and have done commercially well. After the announcement, Namco Bandai producer, Masaya Kobayashi, stated that Tetsuya Akatsuka (sound and art director for the Soul Calibur series), Yoshito Higuchi (the director of Tales of Vesperia), and Kenya Kobayashi (the producer of Ridge Racer), who were all also the main development team for the Tekken series, would be heavily involved in the two titles. This kind of experience is something necessary because, for the first time since the series began in 1999, Nintendo has competition.
In April 2012 Sony announced PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a Smash Bros. style fighting game that involves various characters
In the end, Namco Bandai’s experience and expertise will allow the franchise to grow and become more fundamentally sound without changing what makes the series so unique and fun. Overall this was a smart move by Nintendo both from a business standpoint and an artistic one. Now, may the speculation as to which Namco character will be a playable fighter begin.