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Recent Pain in Sakurai's Arm May Be Affecting Next Smash Bros.' Progress

Jason Clement

Video game development can be exciting, but it can also be quite a pain at times as well, especially when a dev team enters the crunch period. In the case of Masahiro Sakurai, creator of Kirby and renowned developer of the Super Smash Bros. series, that pain is a very literal reality at the moment as he has recently been diagnosed with calcific tendonitis and several ruptures in the muscles according to his latest column in Famitsu, according to Polygon.


The diagnosis comes about a month after Sakurai revealed that he had Repetitive Strain Injury (or RSI), making it difficult for him to use a mouse, keyboard, or gamepad for an extended period of time without experiencing pain.


"It's posing problems when I'm test-playing something in progress,"
Sakurai noted.


"I figure that if I cut down on writing emails and other things, try not to type in so much data myself, and start giving more verbal directions, that'll reduce the amount of keyboard-oriented work I have to do," he said. But if I'm going to be supervising other people's work, there's no way to cut down the amount of mouse usage I need to perform. I'm trying to work it with my left hand in order to give the right one some rest, but that definitely cuts down on my work efficiency..."


In order to get around his RSI, his solution was to use a trackball in its place; something that was actually used to draw Kirby in the beginning, interestingly enough. Unfortunately, he doesn't quite have that option when it comes to playtesting games.


"There's no instant cure for it, so all I can do is either block the pain with injections or put my arm in a cast to keep the ruptures from spreading,"
Sakurai continued.


"I was told that the important thing was to keep my arm as rested as possible. In order to get it fully healed, the only thing is to not use my right arm or hand. So not only am I using a trackball with my left hand; now I'm using it to eat, brush my teeth, wash my hair, and even drive as much as I'm able to."


Naturally, this injury has taken somewhat of a toll on the upcoming Super Smash Bros. games in development for Wii U and 3DS, and because of that, Sakurai noted that even he isn't sure what sort of overall impact this will have on the project if things don't get better.


"Often I go in on my off-days to catch up on my own work, but with my body going on me like this, I have to cut these extra days out of my schedule and even with that I can't use my right arm very much to control things,"
he explained.


"If this disorder lingers, or if it never gets fixed, there's no telling what impact that would have on the project."


Until Sakurai's arm is better, it appears that development on the next Super Smash Bros. will be a bit more slow going than usual, but he's determined to do what he can to remain as active as possible on the project in the meantime. This news does make one wonder if his team and Namco Bandai will be able to produce a playable demo for E3 as Nintendo previously hoped for in a previous Nintendo Direct, but it appears we won't know until closer to the show now.


Despite his physical limitations at the moment, though, Sakurai stated that he now realizes how important it is to have your health and that he is glad he's still in good enough to shape to work. Hopefully he'll be back in top form sometime soon.


Source: Polygon (1, 2)

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