Few games have sparked more smuggish down looks as of late than the erroneously long-named PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. From its inception just a few short months ago All-Stars, as we shall call it from here forth, has been hailed as a blatant rip-off of Nintendo‘s wildly successful Super Smash Bros. franchise. What makes things interesting is that indeed it is just that, and I don’t think anyone should really care. Its not as if Nintendo invented the brawler-style crossover game anyways. I propose that we all get over calling this game, or any other for that matter, a rip-off of this or that and simply enjoy it or don’t.
Since All-Stars is essentially a clone of a game that pounds a now already firmly beaten trail lets look at what the game does to differentiate itself from the aforementioned Nintendo staple. The most important difference to note between Smash and All-Stars is the massive role the super meter plays in developer SuperBot’s game. In SSB players slowly raise the level of their opponent’s percentage meter. This meter hovers over the players name, and sits where the super meter resides in All-Stars. The higher he damage percentage, the farther you fly when someone whacks you with a pokeball until eventually you just ring-out and die. Conversely, here rather than grinding your opponent to a more and more fragile state you are instead grinding your meter to one of three levels unlocking subsequently stronger super attacks that kill your opponents.
I won’t lie here; when I first read that this was how the game would be played I was not pleased. This seemed counter intuitive and I wondered why anyone making a blatant clone would decide to deviate in such a strange way. No other fighting game I can recall works in this way. You simply have no health meter. You aren’t watching your life, and the life of others tick away and planning your attacks based that. Instead you’re watching everyone’s super meters. Steering clear of that guy that already has a level two and is trying to grab a level three to destroy the whole field. Trying to decide if you should jump on that weaker level one super you already have to score some points, or if you should wait a bit longer and risk getting killed in order to go bigger. I can now say after spending some quality time with Sony‘s flagship fighter that I am on board with this system. Fret not, fans of Smash. This works too.
Another key difference in the game exists in the form of the games levels. Each stage you duke it out on is comprised of two franchises. You will see levels based on God of War and Patapon. Yeah. I think it’s strangely awesome too. In addition to each level being arbitrarily based on two games instead of simply one as if to say “suck on that, Nintendo,” each level also has the potential to kill you. In the Hades level, the big, bad hydra might just reach out and smash you into oblivion. This element of environmental danger is something only sparesely experimented with in SSB and it definitely adds some spice to a game with already solid mechanics.
All-Stars gets a lot of things right and really only a few wrong. The game doesn’t take itself seriously, but the people making it clearly do and that bodes well for a game of this nature. While I don’t think the controls are currently quite as crisp and responsive as SSB, there really isn’t much I have to say negatively about PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. The game is simply fun and on top of that when it launched on November 20, 2012, buying the PS3 version will get you the Vita version for free.
This preview was based on the PS3 closed beta