Masahiro Sakurai

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Masahiro Sakurai
桜井 政博
Sakurai in 2021
Born (1970-08-03) August 3, 1970 (age 53)
SpouseMichiko Sakurai

Masahiro Sakurai (桜井 政博, Sakurai Masahiro, born August 3, 1970) is a Japanese video game director and game designer best known as the creator of the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. series. Apart from his work on those series, he also led the design of Meteos in 2005 and directed Kid Icarus: Uprising in 2012.

Formerly an employee of HAL Laboratory, Sakurai left the company in 2003 and in 2005 with his wife Michiko Sakurai (also ex-HAL Laboratory) founded their company Sora Ltd.[a], under which they work on a freelance basis. He was also an author of a weekly column for Famitsu magazine from 2003 to 2021, and has done voice acting work in some of his games, most notably providing the voice of King Dedede in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards and the Super Smash Bros. series. Since 2022, Sakurai has been creating videos for his YouTube channel, Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games, where he discusses game design and his career.


Masahiro Sakurai was born on August 3, 1970, in Musashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan. One of Sakurai's earliest experiences in the video game industry began when he worked for HAL Laboratory, where he created the character Kirby at age 19 and directed his first title, Kirby's Dream Land.[1]

Sakurai left HAL on August 5, 2003, after growing tired of the sequelization passively forced by HAL, ending his work on the Kirby series. "It was tough for me to see that every time I made a new game, people automatically assumed that a sequel was coming," Sakurai commented, in an interview with Nintendo Dream, two weeks after he resigned from HAL. He explained that, "even if it's a sequel, lots of people have to give their all to make a game, but some people think the sequel process happens naturally".

Soon after, Sakurai began working on a project with Q Entertainment, along with Tetsuya Mizuguchi. This collaboration resulted in Meteos in 2005, a puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. On September 30, 2005, Sakurai announced that he had formed his own company, Sora Ltd.[2] Two games were announced to be in development but no information on the titles had been divulged. As for the future of the Super Smash Bros. series, Nintendo and HAL Laboratory president Satoru Iwata, during Nintendo's E3 2005 press conference, promised an online iteration of the game would come to the Nintendo Wii.[3]

In issue #885 of Famitsu magazine, Sakurai revealed that he would be serving as a director and game designer on Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. Super Smash Bros. Brawl was released in 2008, after personnel borrowed from 19 different developer studios assisted in development.[4] Sakurai had been updating daily the Super Smash Bros Brawl website called the Smash Bros. Dojo. Starting a year previous the release, he revealed Brawl secrets and gameplay content through the site. The Smash Bros. Dojo had regular updates from May 22, 2007, to April 14, 2008.[5]

The logo of Sora Ltd.

On the final day of updates, it was revealed that Sakurai provided the voice for King Dedede in Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards as well as Dedede in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. He and his company, Sora Ltd. alongside Nintendo, started a first-party studio, Project Sora, which was 72% owned by Nintendo and 28% owned by Sora Ltd. It was revealed at E3 2010 that Sakurai and Project Sora were working on Kid Icarus: Uprising for the Nintendo 3DS. Project Sora was closed and ended development on June 30, 2012.[6] At E3 2011, Nintendo announced that Sakurai was working on Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Sakurai began development of the title upon the release of Kid Icarus: Uprising in March 2012.[7]

In February 2013, Sakurai was diagnosed with calcific tendinitis near his right shoulder, which caused him substantial pain whenever he moved his arm. He mentioned that this could effectively slow down his work, as he does some of his game testing himself.[8] Sakurai's wife, Michiko, has worked on the graphical user interface for many of his games, including Kirby Air Ride, Meteos, and the Super Smash Bros. series.[9]

In a January 2015 column in Weekly Famitsu, Sakurai alluded to the possibility of retirement, expressing doubt that he would be able to continue making games if his career continued to be as stressful as it was.[10] In December 2015, Sakurai once again stated that he was not sure if there would be another game in the Smash Bros. series,[11] prior to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being released in 2018 with Sakurai once again as director.[12]

On March 14, 2022, Sakurai was awarded Best Creator by Weekly Famitsu. Sakurai also announced that he is working on a new project not related to game production.[13]

Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games

Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games
YouTube information
Subscribers548,000 (English)[14]
520,000 (Japanese)[15][16]
Total views11.8 million (English)[14]
28.1 million (Japanese)[15][16]
100,000 subscribers2022[17]

Last updated: May 19, 2023

Sakurai launched Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games, a YouTube channel in both English and Japanese in August 2022. The channel's videos are focused on game development and design as well as his career.[18][19] He stated that the channel was founded because he wanted to reach more people with his lessons after being asked to lecture at schools. Sakurai additionally noted that other venues for lessons from game developers, such as the Game Developers Conference, focused on more advanced, technical details, rather than more basic principles.[20] Less than a day after its launch, the English edition of his channel gained over 200,000 subscribers.[21] The opening and ending jingles for the channel were composed by Yuzo Koshiro.[22]


Year Title Role(s)
1992 Kirby's Dream Land Director, game designer
1993 Kirby's Adventure
1996 Kirby Super Star Director
1999 Super Smash Bros.
2000 Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards Voice actor (King Dedede)
2001 Super Smash Bros. Melee Chief director
2002 Kirby: Nightmare in Dream Land
2003 Kirby Air Ride Director
2004 Kirby & the Amazing Mirror Special advisor
2005 Meteos Game designer
2006 Sodatete! Kouchuu Ouja Mushiking
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Director, voice actor (King Dedede)
2012 Kid Icarus: Uprising Director, scenario
2014 Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Director, voice actor (King Dedede)
2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate


  1. ^ 有限会社ソラ, Yūgen-gaisha Sora


  1. ^ MacDonald, Keza (August 8, 2018). "From Kong to Kirby: Smash Bros' Masahiro Sakurai on mashing up 35 years of gaming history". The Guardian. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 9, 2018.
  2. ^ Gomez, John (September 30, 2005). "GameDAILY, Glu, Climax, Mforma, THQ Wireless & More Make Moves". GameDaily BIZ. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved May 11, 2006.
  3. ^ Casamassina, Matt (May 17, 2005). "E3 2005: Smash Bros. For Revolution". IGN. Archived from the original on November 9, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2005.
  4. ^ "Iwata Asks: Super Smash Bros. Brawl". Nintendo of America. Archived from the original on July 7, 2009. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
  5. ^ Sakurai, Masahiro (April 14, 2008). "Notice: No Further Updates". Super Smash Bros. Dojo. Archived from the original on December 29, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2008.
  6. ^ O'Brien, Lucy (July 11, 2012). "Kid Icarus Uprising Developer Closes". IGN. Archived from the original on May 17, 2015. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  7. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (June 8, 2011). "Smash Bros. U & 3DS development appears to be very early". Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2011.
  8. ^ Gifford, Kevin (February 27, 2013). "Why Masahiro Sakurai's bum right arm is hindering work on the new Smash Bros". Polygon. Archived from the original on April 1, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2013.
  9. ^ Aengenheyster, Justin (August 3, 2020). "Herzlichen Glückwunsch Masahiro Sakurai zum 50. Geburtstag!". (in German). Archived from the original on August 31, 2020. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  10. ^ Nakamura, Toshi (January 29, 2015). "Smash Bros. Could be its Creator's Last Game". Kotaku. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2015.
  11. ^ Makuch, Eddie. "Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS DLC Ending Soon Director Says". GameSpot. Archived from the original on December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  12. ^ Phillips, Tom (March 8, 2018). "Super Smash Bros. announced for Nintendo Switch". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on May 1, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  13. ^ "Sakurai Says He's Already Working on a New Project + Wins Best Creator". YouTube. March 14, 2022. Retrieved March 14, 2022.
  14. ^ a b "About Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games". via YouTube. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  15. ^ a b "About 桜井政博のゲーム作るには". via YouTube. Retrieved March 12, 2023.
  16. ^ a b "About Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games". YouTube.
  17. ^ Doolan, Liam (September 11, 2022). "Random: Masahiro Sakurai Shows Off His Silver YouTube Play Button". Nintendo Life. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  18. ^ Peters, Jay (August 24, 2022). "Masahiro Sakurai is the latest creator to join YouTube". The Verge. Archived from the original on August 25, 2022. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  19. ^ Nightingale, Ed (August 24, 2022). "Masahiro Sakurai launches new YouTube channel on game development". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on August 25, 2022. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  20. ^ Lee, Jonathan (August 24, 2022). "Super Smash Bros. creator launches educational YouTube channel". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 20, 2022.
  21. ^ Liam, Doolan (August 25, 2022). "Sakurai's YouTube Channel Surpasses 200k Subscribers In Under 24 Hours". Nintendo Life. Archived from the original on August 25, 2022. Retrieved August 25, 2022.
  22. ^ "The opening and ending jingles for these videos were composed by none other than Yuzo Koshiro. I imagine you've heard them many times by now!". YouTube. Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games. June 8, 2023. Archived from the original on June 9, 2023. Retrieved June 9, 2023.

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