Sora Ltd. (有限会社ソラ, Sora Limited) is an independent Japanese video game company founded by Masahiro Sakurai and his wife Michiko Takahashi. It is used as an agency for both to manage contracts with publishers. They are best known for directing the Super Smash Bros. series (from Brawl onwards), Meteos, and Kid Icarus: Uprising.

Company history

On August 5, 2003, Masahiro Sakurai and his then-girlfriend Michiko Takahashi decided to leave HAL Laboratory.[1] Sakurai stated on an interview that the current state of the industry and the company's frequent need for sequels were his reasonings for their departure as well as wanting to be freelancers with their own company. Sora Ltd. was later established on September 30, 2005, with their first project being a collaboration with development company Q Entertainment for the Nintendo DS game Meteos, with Sakurai as its lead designer.

At a press conference set before E3 2005, Nintendo president (and Sakurai and Takahashi's former colleague) Satoru Iwata announced the next installment of Smash Bros. was not only already in development for their next gaming console, but would hopefully be a launch title with Wi-Fi compatibility for online play. This announcement came as a surprise to Sakurai, who was not informed beforehand that a new Smash Bros. was even happening. Soon after the presentation, he was called up to Iwata's hotel room and offered a position as the game's director, to which he accepted.[2] Development soon began on Super Smash Bros. Brawl in collaboration with Game Arts and Monolith Soft and was released on the Wii in 2008.

On January 22, 2009, a new Nintendo subsidiary was formed named Project Sora, with Sakurai serving as its president.[3] The staff initially consisted of 30 members (most of which Nintendo recruited for Brawl), with more being hired later on. An office was also opened in Iidabashi, Tokyo. Project Sora soon began development of the Nintendo 3DS game Kid Icarus: Uprising, which was released on March 2012. Soon after its release, the team was dissolved on June 30, with the official website shutting down the following month.[4]

During the E3 2011 press conference, Iwata revealed that Sakurai was considering making a new Smash entry for the Nintendo 3DS and the then-newly revealed Wii U, with some form of connectivity between the two. Development soon began in 2012 with Sora Ltd. working in partnership with Bandai Namco, who were announced in a Nintendo Direct to be the primary developer.[5] Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U was formally revealed during the E3 2013 Nintendo Direct hosted on June 11, 2013. Following the announcement, Sakurai began posting a weekday photo series known as the "Pic of the Day" on his official Miiverse account where he would reveal new elements to the game, such as new items, stages, and revealing veteran fighters. A series of cinematic trailers were also produced for each newcomer. Both games were released in the fall of the following year.

A new Smash title began development following the completion of DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, partnering once again with Bandai Namco. During the planning stages, Masahiro Sakurai revealed his intention to bring back every veteran fighter (something that was met with dead silence from the development team).[6] The new game for the Nintendo Switch was revealed with a teaser trailer during the Nintendo Direct hosted in March 8, 2018. Sakurai later shared on his personal Twitter account that he had been working on the game "in silence, day after day". The game was later formally revealed as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate during E3 2018 and was released worldwide simultaneously on December 7.

References

  1. PushDustIn (06/23/2015). “I’m Quitting Hal Laboratory!” (English). Source Gaming. Retrieved on 2020-08-30.
  2. Iwata Asks - Super Smash Bros. Brawl (English). Nintendo. Retrieved on 2020-08-30.
  3. Ashcraft, Brian (02/18/2009). Smash Bros. Creator And Nintendo Announce New Title, New Company (English). Kotaku. Retrieved on 2020-08-30.
  4. O'Brien, Lucy (07/11/2012). Kid Icarus: Uprising Developer Closes (English). IGN. Retrieved on 2020-08-30.
  5. Drake, Audrey (06/21/2012). Namco Bandai Developing Next Smash Bros. (English). IGN. Retrieved on 2020-08-30.
  6. Webster, Andrew (06/12/2018). Why Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was such a daunting game for its creators to build (English). The Verge. Retrieved on 2020-08-30.
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