Dear Mr. Sakurai
Thank you for the memories and joy
I vividly remember one holiday more than any other. It was Christmas 2001, I was six years old, snow was pouring from the sky as hoped by any child on that crisp holiday morning. Looking back I now know how little money we may have had back then, but regardless, Santa Claus knew just what would make me happiest that year. I also think that my parents wanted to do anything that they could to make that Christmas special following the September 11 attacks.
I rushed to tear apart the brightly colored gifts that rested underneath our small tree. Paper flew everywhere, tape stuck to my arm, and after what felt like an eternity, I finally managed to open both gifts: my first ever video game system, a Nintendo GameCube, and first game, Super Smash Brothers Melee.
I remember hearing a lot about this game on the playground or in class but hadn’t yet had the chance to play it. Now as I held my own sealed copy in my hands, staring at the beautiful artwork, my stomach fluttered in excitement and anticipation.
I asked if I could play it now and use the television in the living room. My parents smiled from ear to ear and said “of course.” I think they also knew Santa had made the right decision. I ran over to the TV that we had in the living room, had one of them help me plug it in while the other made some hot chocolate, turned on the console, and soon was greeted with the sound of an the the GameCube’s electronic jingles as the logo was created by what looked like a series of purple dominos.
I held my breath as I waited for the game to load and then sat in silent wonder as the intro began. A figurine of Mario was tossed into the air. A beautiful orchestra played through the theme that I can still hum note for note to this day. The change of pace as Sheik and Zelda stared to the stars… then the climactic “GET READY” as the figurines flew into the air following an explosion as the narrator yelled “Super Smash Brothers Melee!” I was already hooked.
I never would’ve dreamt at the time that this was the start of something far more than just having some good good quick fun over Christmas break. This would turn into a deep love for video games, specifically your work and Nintendo’s.
As I played more and more and began to realize what a good escape video games could provide as well. If ever my parents begin to fight, which they oftentimes did, it gave me a wonderful distraction away from it all. Drowning at their bickering with the sounds of Classic Mode and defeating Master Hand, unlocking new characters, Pikachu beating Bowser on Pokéfloats…(Semi off-topic but… Whatever happened to Pokéfloats?? We all miss it dearly.)
Throughout the years, I grew into more and more of a Nintendo fan, buying Pokemon games, Mario games, and Zelda games. Anything I could afford and that seemed interesting to me as a kid, a teenager, and now a guy in his 20’s following his own dreams of voice acting in the very games that you gave birth to. I won’t even to hesitate say that it was a mixture of these kinds of amazing games along with great cartoons I grew up watching like Kirby: Right Back At Ya! and Sonic X that subconsciously put the idea in my head to follow acting as a career later on in life.
In 2020 when the pandemic came around, I, along with many others dealt with his share of mental health issues. This seemingly unlimited time at home had its perks but also it’s problems. While I knew in my head that we would all make it through if we just did our part, it was still a scary moment in my 26 years on this planet.
Something that I turned to, just as I did when I was a kid needing an escape, was your creation, Super Smash Brothers. This time in its latest and most beautiful incarnation, a game called Ultimate. And Ultimate it was indeed. So many new and unique characters I might not have even heard of, one admittedly is now one of my mains Banjo-Kazooie!
On its face, it gave me something super fun to do, but on a deeper level, though, it kept me and a friend of mine together after he left NYC during the pandemic to stay with his parents. We would hop on a video call and push each other to improve in a weird time when, for us as actors, it felt like the world was standing still. Match after match, talking about how we were feeling that day, what we were working on, and how we could train to get better. Looking back on 2020, I played so many hours of that game, and under normal circumstances, I might have felt guilty about it. Given what we all went through though, and that it was this one game that kept us sane in a time when everything was upside down, I think all that time was very well spent.
If this manages to get to you, please know how deeply grateful we all are for the work that you’ve done. Your games have provided an escape to kids like me around the world when they might have needed it most. Your games provided the chance to improve a skill when the world felt like it was falling apart. Your games inspired, brought hope, and brought happiness to so many, and with your farewell yesterday after announcing the last DLC fighter, I felt that I needed to do anything I could to get these words of gratitude to you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Mr. Sakurai for the memories, the experiences, and joy you’ve given all of us.