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Masahiro Sakurai

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Masahiro Sakurai
Native name 桜井 政博
Born (1970-08-03) August 3, 1970 (age 47)
Musashimurayama, Tokyo, Japan
Works Kirby series
Super Smash Bros. series
Spouse(s) Michiko 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 in those series, he also lead the design of Meteos in 2005 and directed Kid Icarus: Uprising in 2012. Formerly an employee of HAL Laboratory, he founded Sora Ltd. in 2005, a company he still works for. He is an author of a weekly column for Famitsu magazine, and has done voice acting work in some of his games.


One of Sakurai's earliest experience 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. 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.[1] Two titles 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's President Satoru Iwata, during Nintendo's E3 2005 press conference, promised an online iteration of the game would come to Nintendo's video game console Wii.

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.[2] 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.

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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[5] 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.


Release Title Platform Role(s)
1992 Arcana Super Nintendo Entertainment System Special thanks
1992 Kirby's Dream Land Game Boy Director, designer
1993 Kirby's Adventure Nintendo Entertainment System Director, designer
1996 Kirby Super Star Super Nintendo Entertainment System Director
1999 Super Smash Bros. Nintendo 64 Director
2000 Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards Nintendo 64 Voice actor (King Dedede)
2000 Kirby Tilt 'n' Tumble Game Boy Color Special thanks
2001 Super Smash Bros. Melee GameCube Director
2002 Kirby: Nightmare in Dreamland Game Boy Advance Director
2002 Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade Game Boy Advance Special thanks
2003 Kirby Air Ride Nintendo GameCube Director
2004 Kirby & the Amazing Mirror Game Boy Advance Special advisor
2005 Meteos Nintendo DS, mobile phones Designer
2005 Mushiking: The King of Beetles Arcade Designer
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Nintendo Wii Director, scenario writer, voice actor (King Dedede)
2012 Kid Icarus: Uprising Nintendo 3DS Director, scenario writer
2014 Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Wii U, Nintendo 3DS Director, voice actor (King Dedede)
2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo Switch Director


  1. ^ Gomez, John (2005-09-30). "GameDAILY, Glu, Climax, Mforma, THQ Wireless & More Make Moves". GameDaily BIZ. Retrieved 2006-05-11. 
  2. ^ "Iwata Asks: Super Smash Bros. Brawl". Nintendo of America. Archived from the original on 2009-07-07. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  3. ^ "Kid Icarus Uprising Developer Closes". IGN. 
  4. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (2011-06-08). "Smash Bros. U & 3DS development appears to be very early". Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2011-06-08. 
  5. ^ Gifford, Kevin. "Why Masahiro Sakurai's bum right arm is hindering work on the new Smash Bros". Retrieved 2013-04-19. 

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