Did Masahiro Sakurai Consult On Def Jam Fight For New York? 1
Image: EA

EA's Def Jam video games were certainly something, right? The notion of EA teaming up with a famous rap label feels like something that could only come from the same decade that gave us 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.

Def Jam Vendetta kicked things off in 2003, followed by Def Jam: Fight For NY (2004), Def Jam Fight for NY: The Takeover (2006) and Def Jam: Icon (2007). All of these games, with the exception of Icon, were developed by Japanese studio AKI Corporation (now known as syn Sophia), famous for its wrestling games.

Those of you who recall this game might remember seeing a familiar name in the "EA Thanks" section of the end credits: Kirby and Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai.

As noted by the utterly peerless @gosokkyu, Sakurai has previously mentioned that he has undertaken anonymous supervision work on a wide variety of video games. Was Fight For NY one of those games?

Investigating this, we spoke to one of our shadowy industry contacts (yes, we have them, honest), who told us that this could potentially be related to a wrestling title which Nintendo of America was planning on developing with AKI.

Rumour has it that Nintendo was exploring the possibility of using the lapsed Pro Wrestling IP for this venture, and while our contact isn't sure the plan ever made it beyond the walls of NOA, there's a slim chance it could have involved Sakurai at some point. We didn't want to take this for gospel though, so we also reached out to the Def Jam: Fight For NY art director Daryl Anselmo to try and find out more.

He told us that at the time Fight for NY was being developed, Sakurai was briefly independent and visited the EA Japan office for what he suspects may have been a roadshow.

A roadshow, for the uninitiated, is when a developer has their own game or company that they are trying to get off the ground, so they line up hundreds of meetings with publishers, institutions, and investors, to secure financial support. It just so happened, though, that when Sakurai came to pitch his ideas to EA Japan it also lined up with the Def Jam Fight for NY development, so the developer was tapped to give a presentation on fighting game design.

"I recall that I had attended a smaller break-out meeting with him (in Tokyo) where the group was discussing fighting game design," says Anselmo. "I remember being very impressed by how he was able to visually articulate game concepts. He did these very passionate white-board sketches and had a mastery of 'powerpoint-style storyboard animation, circa 2004' which was pretty important for fundraising at the time. That's pretty much all I recall. I'm not sure about the greater context of the meetings with him. Stan Chow might know more."

We reached out to the executive producer of the game Stanley Chow to see what he was able to add, and he confirmed that Sakurai indeed spoke to the team. However, he doesn't remember Sakurai ever being officially brought on board to consult or give feedback.

"As far as I remember Sakurai came and gave a general presentation to the Def Jam team about the mechanics of fighting games. I don't recall him specifically consulting on or giving feedback on Def Jam: Fight For New York."

The likeliest scenario, therefore, to explain his mystery credit is that when it came time to put them together, someone simply remembered Sakurai's presentation from earlier in development and felt it was significant enough to include him in the "EA Thanks".

Even if Sakurai didn't "officially" consult on the game, it should be said that we still get a strange joy out of seeing his name mentioned in the same breath as Method Man – and maybe that's enough for us.

[source x.com]