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 (born on August 3, 1970 in Tokyomarker, Kantō region) is a Japanesemarker video game designer, the creative force behind both the Kirby and the Super Smash Bros. series on Nintendo platforms. He is currently Director of Software Development for the video game developer's Sora Ltd. and Project Sora. He is also the author of a weekly column for Famitsu magazine. He has developed a cult following for his cute, colorful character designs.


One of Sakurai's earliest experiences in the video game industry began when he worked for HAL Laboratory. It is here that he created the character Kirby at the age of 19. He would soon direct his first title, Kirby's Dream Land.

Sakurai resigned from his position at HAL Laboratory on August 5, 2003, leading many to believe that the Kirby and Super Smash Bros. series would cease to continue. Reasons for his departure are said to be because he was seeking more freedom and was not happy with the structure that was present at HAL Laboratory. Most of all, however, Sakurai grew tired of the sequelization of the industry and at HAL.

"It was tough for me to see that every time I made a new game, people automatically assumed that a sequel was coming," said Sakurai on August 26, 2003, in an interview with Nintendo Dream, two weeks after his resignation from HAL Laboratory. "Even if it's a sequel (laughs), lots of people have to give their all to make a game, but some people think the sequel process happens naturally."

His resignation came just days after an interview where he openly criticized the company for circumstances surrounding the development of the Nintendo GameCube racer Kirby Air Ride. He has publicly stated that he wishes HAL to continue working on the Kirby series. It is known that Sakurai holds no resentment towards his past at HAL Laboratory, or his old characters. To this day, Sakurai's signature is a Kirby face.

After his departure with HAL in August 2003, Sakurai began working with Q Entertainment, along with Tetsuya Mizuguchi. This collaboration resulted in Meteos, a unique puzzle game for the Nintendo DS.

On September 30 2005, Sakurai announced that he had formed his own company, Sora. Two titles have been announced to be in development but any information on the titles (other than that they are in development) has not yet been divulged.

As for the future of the Super Smash Bros. series, former HAL Laboratory President and current President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, during the Nintendo E3 2005 press conference, promised an online iteration of the game would come to Nintendo's video game console, Wii. In issue #885 of Famitsu magazine, Sakurai first revealed that he would be serving as a director and game designer on Nintendo's highly anticipated game Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the console.

Sakurai completed development of Super Smash Bros. Brawl in 2008. He developed the game, despite personnel borrowed from 19 different developer studios being put in charge of preliminary development of it. Brawl was released on January 31, 2008 in Japanmarker, and on March 9, 2008 in North America. Sakurai had also been updating daily the official Super Smash Bros Brawl web site called "The Dojo". Starting a year previous the release, Sakurai had started revealing Brawl secrets and gameplay content through the site. Regular updates began May 22, 2007 and ended on April 14, 2008. On the final day of updates, it was revealed that Sakurai provided the voice for King Dedede in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Sakurai's name also appeared under "Voice Actors" in the final credits of Kirby 64.

Sakurai and his company, Sora Ltd. alongside Nintendo have started a new first-party studio, Project Sora, which is 72% owned by Nintendo and 28% owned by Sora Ltd.

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