By Steven ‘Dreamking23’ Chavez
Back then, it was called Dragon King: The Fighting Game
Creator of the Super Smash Bros. series, Masahiro Sakurai, has been actively creating content and sharing it on YouTube as a means of walking fans through some of the intricacies of game development. In the latest installment of his “Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games” channel, the legendary developer discusses what now has to be his most popular body of work — Super Smash Bros.
This episode focuses on the very first entry in the series, Super Smash Bros. 64, and how it came to be made, and while we’ve heard some of the details of that story before, Sakurai brings an exciting twist with him. For the first time, Sakurai shares never-before-seen footage of the original prototype for Smash 64, which at the time was going to be a fighting game called “Dragon King: The Fighting Game.”
As we know, Super Smash Bros. started out as a four player free-for-all battle game with no health bars that pit very basic humanoid figures against one another. Sakurai created the prototype with the help of the former CEO and president of Nintendo, the late Satoru Iwata, and eventually, they would ask Nintendo to borrow their most popular characters for this fighting game.
Before it was Super Smash Bros. 64, however, it was Dragon King, and Sakurai presents the footage of this early demo while providing some interesting details on what all it included.
“There were no special moves, dodges, or even items yet, but the game’s rules were basically the same as Super Smash Bros., as you can see,” Sakurai begins. “It had smash attacks, midair jumps, shields, dashes, and five-direction aerial attacks.
“A Battlefield stage layout, too. Though you could change that,” Sakurai continued. “At the time, we were very limited in how we could configure models, but they still move pretty well, I’d say.”
Sakurai goes on to say that though this prototype, as well as a prototype for another game that featured a robot and focused on stealth and exploration, were met with high praise from Nintendo, there was no one available to actually make the games at the time. The rest of the team at his company was already wrapped up in other projects such as Mother 3 for the Nintendo 64DD, a “snowboarding-like version of (Kirby) Air Ride,” and other titles that were never announced.
All of those projects ended up falling through, and this left Nintendo in a position where they needed a finished game and the ability to finish it quickly. With the fighting game being a title that could be developed more swiftly than the robot exploration game, Sakurai opted to pick it and went ahead with development.
In the prototype’s footage, we see several elements of the game that would make it into Super Smash Bros. While it’s obvious that many of the mechanics and functions carried over, interesting facets like the stock sky and starry night backgrounds that were clearly placeholders would end up being used in some capacity for stages like Final Destination.
There’s even a rough version of the fighters’ health percentages shown here, but initially they were up at the top of the screen instead of at the bottom as we see in Smash Bros. The overall look of this prototype is naturally pretty basic, but the combat and movement of the characters is actually fairly smooth and close to what we see in the final Super Smash Bros. 64 game.
There is a ton of information and insight about Smash Bros. here, so be sure to check out Sakurai’s latest video below. If you want to jump right to the Dragon King prototype footage, you can skip to about 1:20.
Source: Event Hubs