Sakurai Shares First-Ever Footage of Dragon King, the N64 Smash Bros. Prototype

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Masahiro Sakurai’s new life as a YouTuber has really taken off, with the game developer sharing his thoughts, tips and snippets of his own history in the industry. Today’s video focuses on how Sakurai played with the original Super Smash Bros. came – you know, that little Nintendo crossover beat ’em up that has become one of Nintendo’s most successful games?

But in this video, Sakurai has not only delved into the original concepts and ideas behind his first fighting game, but has also shared footage of a never-before-seen game that served as a prototype for Smash Bros. – Dragon King: The Fighting Game. In the time-stamped video above, you can see how this four-player fighting game started life as if it just grew into something bigger

How it started...How it started...How it started… — Images: Masahiro Sakurai

It could have more generic looking characters (it’s a prototype after all), the similarities are obvious. The percentage of “smash” meters at the top; the platform-based arena; the way the characters fall into combat. It’s unabashedly Smash Bros. While items and special moves were missing, smash attacks, air jumps, dashes, shields, and targeted attacks were all there.

Dragon King and a second prototype – an RC adventure – were well received by Nintendo. The problem was that Sakurai’s team was already busy when he proposed these prototypes. Mother 3 for the 64DD was one of these, and a “snowboard-style version of Air Ride, unrelated to the GameCube game”, but both were canceled (Mother 3 eventually launched on the GBA and images from the Kirby game have recently been published).

Sakurai and his team needed a game fast, so they went for the four-player fighting game – which ended up being Smash Bros. became! are are you.…how are you. — Images: Nintendo

The full video features Sakurai’s explanation of why Smash Bros. became “an antithesis of fighting games”, a statement he has repeated, while also praising the genre as a whole. It’s a fascinating look at what is now one of the most influential fighting games of all time.

Check out the video above and let us know what you think of the Smash prototype in the comments!

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