Nintendo dropped an unexpected bombshell tonight during one of their regular Nintendo Direct webcasts: the upcoming Wii U and 3DS Super Smash Bros. sequels will be developed by Namco Bandai and not internally within Nintendo.
The new, still untitled Smash Bros. game is being directed by Yoshito Higuchi, who previously directed Tales of Vesperia, and has worked on the Soul Calibur series in the past. While it’s certainly a surprising announcement, this isn’t the first time Nintendo has tapped outside talent for the Smash Bros. series — the Wii’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl was co-developed with Game Arts, best known for their work on the Lunar series of RPGs.
Of course, Smash Bros. is still Nintendo’s premiere crossover franchise, so series director Masahiro Sakurai and his team at Sora Ltd. (a second party owned by Nintendo,) will still oversee the project.
Nintendo has yet to reveal any other details regarding the highly anticipated project, but Sakurai did say that he was “doing his best to bring old characters back to Smash Bros.” I’m not sure what he means by that exactly, given that Smash Bros.’s cast is made entirely of classic video game characters. Perhaps he means fan favorites like Roy, who was replaced by newer Fire Emblem hero Ike in the last Smash Bros., will return to the roster. With a major third party now involved in it’s development, I think it’s guaranteed that the next Smash Bros. will probably have more third party characters as well, in addition to the usual Nintendo stable of characters.
It is a little worrisome to hear that Nintendo isn’t handling the project internally, but Yoshito Higuchi is certainly a talented director, and Sakurai is at least still overseeing the development of the game. I’ve written many times on this blog about how I’m still not sold on the Wii U, but if they can pull off another quality Smash Bros. game, I may have no choice but to cave in and buy it. Nintendo’s certainly taking a risk by letting Namco handle the next Smash Bros, as the game could be a potential huge system seller if it ends up being good.