Masahiro Sakurai's work on Super Smash Bros. overshadows the rest of his catalog, but today we rank the best games he's worked on that aren't SSB.
Masahiro Sakurai has been making games professionally since the early '90s. He is most famous for creating the Super Smash Bros. franchise, which has been going strong since the debut entry in 1999 on the Nintendo 64. The fighting game series is so famous, many fans may not even realize Masahiro Sakurai has a slew of other projects under his belt.
Related: 10 Characters That Should Be In Super Smash Bros. (But Aren't)
The following list ranks eight of his best games he worked on to some degree, whether it be leading the project or consulting with the team. Along with bringing Super Smash Bros. to the masses, he is also known as a perfectionist who works nonstop, something which shows in almost every project he touches.
Kirby's Dream Land released on the original Game Boy in 1992. The game designer aimed to make a game all demographics could enjoy, which makes sense for the Game Boy platform which was popular among non-gamers. He created the character and game with Satoru Iwata, who would go on to become the president of Nintendo and lead the company to its greatest successes. The character was not originally pink. While it does not have a score on the Metacritic site, it is worth mentioning for the character's importance for Nintendo.
On the bottom of the list is Kirby Air Ride, a racing spin-off of the Kirby series. The game is intentionally simple, but it was also a major point of criticism. A racing game based on a Nintendo property undoubtedly draws comparisons to Mario Kart, and Kirby Air Ride definitely does not live up to that legendary series. However, taken on its own, Kirby Air Ride is a relaxing time. The unique progression and reward system is also a good motivator to keep playing.
This score is for the Nintendo DS remake, but Sakurai directed the original SNES game. Kirby Superstar is unique for several reasons. For one, it is jam packed with numerous features and gameplay modes which make sure one never grows bored with the offerings.
Related: 10 Most Adorable Enemies From The Kirby Franchise
Secondly, it includes cooperative play through all of these. Even the worst video games are made better when going through it with a friend, so playing through an already great adventure together makes Kirby Superstar one of the best games on the SNES.
Many popular Nintendo franchises had trouble adapting to 3D when the N64 came out. The Kirby franchise decided to play it safer and retain the 2D gameplay while utilizing the advanced graphics. Some commended the old fashioned style, while others were disappointed at the lack risk taking. It should be noted that Sakurai had little involvement with this game, as he did not want to heavily influence the team making the game. However, he did provide the voice of King Dedede, something he would do again Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
On the surface, Kirby and the Amazing Mirror looks like any other platformer from the series. However, playing it reveals some major differences. The layout and design more closely resemble Metroid, with Kirby traversing a giant labyrinthine map instead of separate levels.
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Sakurai worked as an advisor on this title, which expands Kirby's trademark powers and give him new power ups. Multiplayer is also available via the link cable. While this may seem like a hassle, it was worth it for some cooperative action before the days of easily accessible online multiplayer.
Kirby: Nightmare In Dream Land is a remake of the NES game Kirby's Adventure, the second title in the franchise. The remake retains all facets of the original release while updating the graphics for the handheld device and adding multiplayer. Like the first game, Sakurai and Satoru Iwata worked on this title together. Some have theorized that Kirby's star status in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's World of Light mode is a tribute to the late former president of Nintendo. Knowing the two's collaboration on this franchise, it is an easy idea to believe.
Kid Icarus is far from the most popular Nintendo franchise, and before Uprising came out in 2012 there had not been a game in the series since 1991. Kid Icarus: Uprising features two distinct gameplay styles; rail-shooting segments in the air and more traditional action level on the ground. The game was meant to showcase the Nintendo 3DS' abilities. While it received a generally positive reception, many were taken aback by the control scheme. It does not look like Pit will star in his own game again anytime soon. At least he still gets love in the Super Smash Bros. series.
Of all the games Masahiro Sakurai worked on, it is surprising to see the highest-rated one being a puzzle game. However, sometimes the simplest ideas make the biggest waves. The gameplay looks like a traditional match three, but a few twists help it stand out from the pack. Whenever you complete a match, the blocks jettison slightly towards the top of the screen. Blocks that hit the top of the screen disappear. Sakurai is credited as the game's designer, while others took over production and direction.
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