Sony’s big announcement yesterday was Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. It is a blatant ripoff of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. franchise, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is being developed by SuperBot Entertainment, who has dabbled in fighters before. All-Stars, like Smash Bros., is a party brawler. This type of game, which was pretty much invented by Smash Bros. is a very casual multiplayer fighting game, intended to be played in groups. The big hook with Smash Bros. was that it had representatives from all sorts of Nintendo franchises from Mario to Link. All-Stars is doing the same thing, but with Sony franchises. It certainly isn’t a novel idea, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea. After all the video game industry was founded on the principle that there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. Today we’re going to look at the ups and downs to this new franchise. Note that I will be comparing the game to Smash Bros. a lot during this post. This is not unfair, as the games are very similar and comparison is to be expected.
|I question the wisdom of the person naming this game. Was he the one who thought up the Wii U as well?|
First up let’s talk about the name and get the bad stuff out of the way first. As shallow as that seems. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is a really, really terrible name. It will undoubtably be shortened by fans to either All-Stars, or Battle Royale, and I question why the creators didn’t do this to begin with. Super Smash Bros. didn’t need to let everyone know that it was a Nintendo game with Nintendo characters, otherwise they would have named it Nintendo’s Big Party Fighting Game with Characters such as Kirby and Mario. All-Stars and Battle Royale in the same title is just redundant and the Playstation part is totally unnecessary. The assumed name for the game prior to it being announced was Title Fight. This wasn’t a good name either, but at least it wasn’t monstrous. This doesn’t change the quality of the game, but it certainly makes it harder to sell from a marketing standpoint. It doesn’t stand out. It seems generic, when it should be spectacular. The point is that a name has to be memorable, and Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is simply a collection of buzz words.
|The level design is very memorable, however.|
One of the upsides to this game is the sheer ability character compilation games have to pull in an audience. Just look at the (Insert random series) vs. Capcom series. They all thrive on fan support. Already we have confirmed: Kratos (God of War), Colonel Radec (Killzone), Fat Princess (Fat Princess), Sly Cooper (Sly Cooper), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), and Parappa the Rappa (Parappa the Rappa). As you may have noticed, this is a pretty diverse list. It is far more diverse than Super Smash Bros., including several characters from M rated series, instead of being limited like Nintendo is with its E rated franchises. The downside to this aspect of the game is that Sony’s first party franchises, while good, are nothing to get excited about. You can expect a representative from Jak and Daxter and Ratchet and Clank, Sack Boy, Cole McGrath, as well as Nathan Drake, but there isn’t really the level of fandom for any of the characters in Sony’s catalogue as there is with Nintendo’s first party. With the possible exception of Kratos, none of the announced characters hold a candle to any of Nintendo’s Smash Bros. characters in comparison.
|Don’t get me wrong. These come from great series, but all of their fanbases combined don’t make up 1% of Link’s fanbase.|
What Sony needs to do to turn their good, if not a little boring first party character list is to learn something from the most recent Super Smash Bros. game and include third party characters. Even Nintendo threw in Sonic and Snake into Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Sony, on the other hand, would be less limited by parental ratings than Nintendo and could include a much wider variety of characters. It doesn’t seem like they are going to add third party characters, but they should. You have no idea how many more people would flock to this game if they could play as Kratos, Bayonetta, Commander Shepard, and Ezio in the same game. Again, this isn’t to harp too much against Sony’s first party, but by casting their net wider they could reach a far more diverse audience. Remember, these character compilation games thrive on diversity of characters which is why the vs. Capcom series do so well. They offer a huge variety of characters from all of Capcom’s series as well as whoever they are vs. for the particular game. The simple fact is as much as I love the InFamous series, the Ratchet and Clank series, and so forth, I would be far more enticed to play this game if they opened it up more.
|If the premise of fighting with Bayonetta again entices you, look up Anarchy Reigns. You can thank me in the comments.|
One thing that Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale (Name still sucks) does really, really well is in its level design. The developers took the rather ingenious idea of mixing games in creating their stages. The basic concept of stages in fighting games is to have one stage per character. In Smash Bros. different games would be represented by stages, but they were still limited by one game for their inspiration. The developers for Battle Royale decided to merge two games together when creating stages. For example they have shown us a stage called Metropolis which is a mixup between the God of War series and the Ratchet and Clank series. What you get from this stage is a conveyor belt and other Ratchet and Clank style platforms, set against the Hydra boss battle from the original God of War. This was a really great idea. Instead of just wondering if certain games will be represented in stages, fans can now wonder how their favourite games will be combined together for new stages. Great, new concept and something that the developers deserve a huge amount of credit for.
|This concept could lead to some of the most clever level design ever seen in a brawler.|
It is very safe to say that the game will play like a dream. From previews we have seen, it looks like each character will be quite unique, such as Sly Cooper’s invisibility ability. This is great and immediately debunks my constant worry of identical characters (You did this to me Street Fighter!). Super attacks are integrated into the game in the same way as they are in mainstream fighters. Unlike the widely hated Smash Ball in Smash Bros. Brawl these special attacks won’t be activated simply by a lucky break, and thus will be far more accepted in competitive play. There will be items to pick up and, like Smash Bros. the item selection should be half of the fun. Will Fat Princess be able to pick up the Heavenly Sword and wail against Kratos, or will Sly Cooper find an Auger and take out Sweet Tooth from afar. Items and item variety is a really fun part of these games, and the randomness of items makes party brawlers fun and separates them from being purely competitive like mainstream fighters, who take themselves far too serious.
|It’s from Resistance, you Philistines!|
This brings me to possibly the biggest advantage Battle Stars All-Royale can claim over the Super Smash Bros. series, and that is the competitive sphere. Brawl alienated a lot of fans of Melee, who saw it as dumbing the game down and removing major elements for competitive play. While competitive play has never been the focus of party brawlers, Battle Royal Playstation Stars has the unique opportunity of cornering this market. Firstly there is the fact that Nintendo’s online presence can be best described as utterly absent, while Sony is quite capable in this regard. Therefore, All-Stars will be undoubtably integrating online play into the game. This allows for an online community who can set up a competitive presence. As long as the right features are present, such as turning off items, and the characters are relatively balanced, Sony may have a competitive brawler on their hands, one which fans will play much longer than a month after the game is released.
|I’m banned from competitive play, because of how damn awesome I am.|
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is going to be a good game unless SuperBot really drops the ball in developing it. There are definitely things that they could do to make it a bigger success such as including third party characters and giving it less of a generic overbearing name, but that doesn’t mean that the game will fail. The fact of the matter is that this game is safe, very safe. They are copying a formula that is known to work, and throwing in enough curve balls to make it their own. If Microsoft with its terrible first party lineup followed suit, it would still be a good bet that the game would be a success. What can I say, people love this stuff. Who doesn’t want to cave in Kratos’ skull with abominably cute mascots?
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer