According to Japanese news reports, Sakurai-san made the revelation in his Weekly Famitsu column, stating that he leaves of his own free will and not because of poor relationships, or because of a desire to move to another company.
However, other reports from the region suggest that Sakurai-san felt he wasn’t able to develop the games he wanted for Nintendo, and eventually decided to go on that basis.
For now, the veteran of several console generations, who first came to the gaming world’s attention with Kirby’s Dreamland for the Game Boy, will be taking up light freelance work until he can find something else that suits his talents.
Worryingly, he states in his column that although Kirby will remain under the caring control of HAL Laboratory, he is uncertain about the future of Smash Bros at Nintendo.
Masahiro Sakurai’s successful career at the former playing card company really began when in the early 90s he found himself penning a new Game Boy game and stumbled upon the inimitable Kirby design.
“I needed a dummy character to represent what the real character would be doing in the game,” he confessed in a recent interview. “I just put a Kirby-shaped blob in my presentation as a place-holder, but everyone liked it so much we decided to keep it in the game without any major changes.”
He was also the man originally responsible for Kirby’s characteristic pink hue. “Mr. Miyamoto, on the other hand, envisioned Kirby as yellow,” he explained. “Since Kirby’s first game was on Game Boy, no one knew what Kirby’s true colour was unless we told them.”
Nintendo has yet to comment on the loss of Sakurai-san or the circumstances of his resignation, however the split does appear to have been very amicable. Nevertheless, it will be seen as more bad news for a platform holder unable to reclaim its former glory in the home console market.
Meanwhile, reports suggest that Nintendo President Satoru Iwata will be making some sort of statement on the company’s current position this Thursday in Japan. According to a Japanese Nintendo magazine, he may also unveil new software for the GameCube.