SNK’s Yasuyuki Oda jokes about bringing Sakuria in to help with new projects, praises Smash Bros. and Japanese fighting game relations

The respect shown by fighting game devs for each other is something special.

Over the last eight years, SNK has gone from rough waters to a resurgence in the fighting game market as it has released several big consecutive titles and is now planning for a return to one of its most beloved classics in the Fatal Fury/Garou series. 

The man leading that return is senior producer Yasuyuki Oda, who started his career with the company back during the end of its golden years on titles like Fatal Fury Special and the original Garou: Mark of the Wolves. And with that history, experience working on titles like Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken while at Dimps, and SNKs successful revival, he is finally ready to tackle his golden goose.

At Evo 2022, Oda and the SNK team announced a new Fatal Fury/Garou game was officially greenlit, with more information slowly coming out over the last month or so about the direction of the game that he has been trying to get made since coming back to SNK in 2014.

But, this project goes beyond SNK, as former employees from those old titles who are no longer with the company are being brought in to collaborate on the next game.

Oda even joked about potentially bringing in Super Smash Bros. series creator and producer Masahiro Sakurai to help out with a project or two while discussing relationships between fighting game developers in Japan. 

Related: Yasuyuki Oda wanted SNK to revisit Garou: Mark of the Wolves

In an interview with VGC, Oda expanded on his thoughts regarding working with Sakurai to bring Terry Bogard to Super Smash Bros, noting the inclusion did not impact the decision to make a new Fatal Fury game but just kind of put wind in the sails kind of thing.

That being said, Oda previously mentioned to Dot Esports at Evo that he was surprised by how few people knew who Terry was when he was announced for Smash initially, but looking back, he sees the entire situation as a positive. 

I think in the end, it was a full net positive even if people were a little bit surprised at the end, Oda said to VGC. I think anybody who has actually played with Terry in Smash Brothers has been like, oh, wow, this guys cool. So definitely, it was a cool positive net effect in general and didnt really negatively affect us in any way.

Part of that positive impact came from Sakurai himself, who is an avid fan of most video game franchisesbut was visibly giddy when he was able to do his presentation on Terry and all of the historical SNK content coming to Smash Ultimate.

This is not only because he and his team always give it their all when trying to make a character fit in Smash, but also because he himself is very passionate about the franchise and even gave fans a detailed history on the series and recommendations on what games they should try that are available on Switch. 

It was really amazing to see how much he loved the series, Oda said.

From there, Oda was asked about the influence of Smash Ultimate on the market and wider fighting game development in Japan, to which he kind of shrugged offstating that while there is obviously an influence from the game that broke all previous fighting game sales records, he and the team at SNK are focused on bringing back the key franchises that have been dormant for a while.

That doesnt mean SNK wasnt paying attention to what Smash Ultimate was able to pull off, noting there is a possibility a more casual crossover title from the King of Fighters franchise could do well since it fits that mold already. VGC even pointed out Sakurai is between projects and SNK might be able to get his help on the project.

Thats a great idea! We might have to talk to him. (Laughs) He started a YouTube channel recently, right? Oda said, referencing Sakurais jump into content creation on a YouTube channel where he teaches game development.

It is a well-known fact the fighting game development scene in Japan is very close, especially among higher-ups at companies like SNK, Capcom, and Bandai Namco who gather semi-regularly to discuss ideas, collaborations, and host things like the Fighting Game Roundtable. And, while this doesnt always lead to working together it does show just how much care can go on behind the scenes to ensure as many people succeed as possible. 

As VGC pointed out, in a recent Haradas Bar episode, a show hosted by Bandai Namco and Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada, there were hints dropped that Tekken 8 was not fully revealed at Evo because Harada knew SNK was going to drop its own big news at the event. Something Oda acknowledged is entirely likely. 

To a certain extent, we do try to take some care, but thats without any internal info or anything, Oda said. For example, we know Street Fighter 6 is the big thing right now, and if we go head-to-head with them, everybody is going to be at a disadvantage.

Tekken 8 was revealed during the September PlayStation State of Play and now joins Street Fighter 6 and the new Fatal Fury title as big fighting games coming out in the coming years. 

You can read the full interview with Oda-san, which delves further into SNKs history and the companys approach to developing its newer games on VGC.

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