Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai has fans concerned about his health once again, after describing how he hooks himself up to an IV drip to continue working on Nintendo’s multi-million selling series while sick.
Sakurai described experiencing symptoms akin to food poisoning while making Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. His solution?
For the development of Ultimate, Sakurai said he had changed his work-life balance to ensure he “always left the office by 10pm, no matter what”.
“I did take some vacation this year for three days (December 22nd through 24th),” he added. “I don’t think I can take a lot of time off around the holidays, though. We’re still developing our DLC, so my staff would have to handle my share of the work. We’re releasing Joker soon, and they wouldn’t be able to consult with me on him.”
It would feel farcical if it wasn’t so concerning. As I explored in my investigation into the human cost of Red Dead Redemption 2’s development, overwork leads to serious and long-lasting physical and mental health problems.
“Jesus this man is a machine but honestly its worrying if he has to use a iv drip at work,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Sakurai-san its not worth it. Take time off you’ve earned it.”
“Please don’t do this,” said another. “You’ll be forgiven for taking time off if you’re sick. If you need an IV drip, go to a hospital and stay there until you recover.”
Sakurai has always felt like he’s been leaned upon by Nintendo to come up with the goods and improve on the ever-expanding Smash Bros. roster each time a new game needs to be made.
Famously, Sakurai was not aware he had been drafted in to make a new Smash Bros. game for Wii until he heard the late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announce the game publicly on stage at E3 2005.
In 2013, Sakurai told fans he was concerned development of the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash Bros. may be impacted by pain in his right hand and arm diagnosed as calcific tendinitis, which had caused some of his arm muscles to rupture.
“There’s no instant cure for it,” Sakurai explained at the time, “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. I was told that the important thing was to keep my arm as rested as possible.”
A year later, in 2014, Sakurai said the Wii U version of Smash Bros. was likely to be his last, as the pressure of improving each game “wound up tightening the noose around my neck”.
And just recently, Sakurai acknowledged all of this while announcing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s DLC plan, which adds a further six characters to the game’s bulging roster and ensures his team is still kept busy long past launch.
“I wonder if I’ll ever get to take a break,” Sakurai said, looking straight down the camera. For your health’s sake, Mr. Sakurai, I hope you do.