Nintendo marketing didn't want Nintendo characters in Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. prototype Dragon King: The Fighting Game
(Image credit: Nintendo/HAL Laboratory/Masahiro Sakurai)

Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai has shared a new look at the original, prototype version of the original Nintendo 64 game, and revealed that Nintendo's sales department wasn't a fan of the game's all-star roster.

The brawler started life as a prototype called Dragon King: The Fighting Game, designed at HAL Laboratory by Sakurai and programmed by future Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. A handful of details about this prototype have circulated the internet for years, but in a new video on Sakurai's YouTube channel, we get to see the first ever public footage of that prototype in action.

While most of the familiar Smash Bros. gameplay was already present in that prototype, the fighters are simply generic humanoid figures. "Now, when you think of Smash Bros., you can't help but think of its large roster of Nintendo characters, but this wasn't in the original proposal - it's something we negotiated for later," Sakurai explains.

"One common struggle found in console-based fighting games is the sudden abundance of potential main characters. Think about The Legend of Zelda - you have one main character, Link, with plenty of side characters and adversaries. From a publicity standpoint, that lets you start with one main character and expand from there, but with fighting games, you might suddenly have eight or even 12 main characters right out of the gate. For the customer, that's 12 new faces who just showed up out of nowhere, and it's not so easy to make someone care about them."

The Smash Bros. roster was made up of familiar Nintendo characters to get around that problem, but Sakurai says "the first impression this gave would plague us right to the very end. After Smash Bros. was finally finished, opinion within Nintendo was split - the developers who played games often really loved their time with the game, but the sales team and wholesalers? They flat out rejected the idea of having Nintendo's characters beat each other up. Though that was before they played it."

One more fun detail out of this video - Sakurai could've made a stealth and exploration-focused RC robot game instead of Smash Bros. It was prototyped at the same time as the fighting game, and Sakurai says "I felt like we were really onto something" with the concept. But Smash Bros. won out in the end simply because it would take less time to develop.

Sakurai has warned fans not to count on there being another Super Smash Bros. sequel.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.