Nintendo Life recently sat down with Masahiro Sakurai, lead developer for the Smash Bros. series, asking him a few questions regarding his insanely popular game franchise.

Sakurai first addressed how third party characters are chosen and incorporated into the game: “First off, I think about which third-party characters would make suitable guests for the game before beginning any negotiations. It goes without saying that Mega Man is a guest who could fit Smash Bros. with his range of moves and attacks, but PAC-MAN as a guest fighter needed some careful consideration.” Sakurai’s response makes complete sense, as not all popular third party characters would fit into a game like Smash Bros., and it is refreshing to see that he didn’t simply take whatever characters he could get.

SakuraiHe then went on to explain the large character roster, and that each character was made from the ground up: “In actual fact, since the development team is different for this game as compared to previous iterations, even the veteran characters were remade from scratch.”

It is good to see that the developers weren’t simply “cashing in” on these latest iterations of the franchise, but rather, taking an insane amount of time to carefully pick, create, and design each character. In fact, Sakurai even revealed that “the process, however, of actually creating a character often takes well over a year, where we are constantly working on the model, the animations, the audio and the balancing.”

“First off, I think about which third-party characters would make suitable guests for the game before beginning any negotiations.”

Another aspect Sakurai had to take into consideration was the voice of the fans and their impressions of past titles; developing a game is aimed at pleasing gamers, but where do you draw the line of familiarity and innovation? Sakurai explains, “I know that some sequels focus on fixing problems with the last game, but if we had taken that approach then we would have had less than half as many new characters, and the game wouldn’t have felt so different from the last one.” Sakurai’s vision for Smash Bros. is to please long-time fans, while bringing in new fans at the same time: “To do this we need to listen not just to the biggest fans, but to a whole range of different users to give everyone an experience that is fun.”

It’s great to see Sakurai taking his project very seriously, and trying to bring something new to the table. Make sure to read all of his thoughts in the entire interview. Smash Bros. for 3DS is available worldwide now, while Smash Bros. for Wii U arrives in North America first on November 21.