PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)


Sony’s Super Smash Brawl All-Stars Royale with Cheese.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (2012)When I learned of the existence of today’s game, I scoffed.  I had no interest in playing this game.  Well, that’s not necessarily true.  I actually have had interest in playing this game many times before, and I’ve enjoyed playing.  Problematically, I enjoyed playing these games when they were called Super Smash Brothers.  But this time PlayStation was doing it.  I still only decided to play this game because I have a somewhat underused Vita and my roommate gave me a code that would get me this game for free.  Consider yourself endorsed, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, developed by SuperBot Entertainment and SCE Santa Monica Studio, published by Sony Computer Entertainment, and including the voices of Eric Ladin, Sean Pertwee, Tim Phillipps, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Unshô Ishizuka, Josh Keaton, Max Casella, Sanae Kobayashi, Terrence ‘T.C.’ Carson, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North, Dred Foxx, Quinton Flynn, James Arnold Taylor, David Kaye, Stephen Fry, Stephane Cornicard, Kevin Miller, Marc Silk, J.S. Gilbert, and, of course, Mario.  No one is going to read through all those names to see that one joke.

…story…Hmmm…  Well, a while ago, a company made a game called Super Smash Brothers because they had been around long enough and had enough iconic, exclusive characters that a game could justify it.  Years later, another accomplished company took their few iconic exclusives, added some exclusives no one gives a shit about, and acted like another character or two were exclusive, and pretty much jacked Smash Brothers blatantly.  And you use those characters to reach the end and beat a disembodied head to make your character glow blue in his epilogue.

You will find that the biggest problem I had with this game is that it is Smash Brothers.  It is so blatantly and unforgivingly Smash Brothers.  I feel like I will use the word Nintendo in this review more than I will the word Sony.  I felt like the credit sequence was so painfully long because they also had to thank everyone involved in Super Smash Brothers.  It lasts like a half hour!  I could bust through the story in less time than I could the credits.  And to refer to what it had as a “story” is true exaggeration.  Every character, no matter how different, hears that something is happening where characters from different worlds are collecting.  They go, they fight, they have a brief, one-stage-long rivalry with a character, and then they fight a disembodied head.  Winning gives them some sort of power that makes them glow blue, in the still-frame ending movie, and then a half hour of credits.  And the final boss was so disappointing to me.  The disembodied head has nothing to do with any Sony product I’ve ever experienced.  It DOES have something in common with a certain Nintendo product that ends with a pair of disembodied hands and polygonal, colorless versions of the other characters in the game.  I will eventually remember the name of that game.  But I believe Sony missed a huge opportunity to make the final boss Kevin Butler.  That would have been fucking perfect!  …SMASH BROTHERS!  That was it.

I was vaguely surprised to see that Sony had actually pulled off a fairly strong set of characters for their Smash Brothers rip off, but they cannot justify it nearly as well as Nintendo could.  Kratos, Nathan Drake, Cole MacGrath, Sweet Tooth, someone from Killzone, Big Daddy and Dante (neither of which are Sony exclusive, by the way.  And didn’t Bioshock originally come out as an Xbox exclusive?), Jak and Daxter, Ratchet and Clank, PaRappa and Nariko (why does anyone remember these two?), Raiden (the least favorite of all Metal Gear characters, since Nintendo already had the most popular), Sackboy, Sly Cooper, Sir Daniel Whogivesafuck and Toro Whatthehell from Huh? for Red October.  I lost focus near the end.  I started wondering if Xbox could pull this off.  My research pulled up Marcus Fenix, Master Chief, Blinx, Alan Wake, Joanna Dark, the Viva Piñata characters, the dude from Condemned (which admittedly might be a little dark for a Smash Brothers rip off), and no, they can’t pull off this kind of game.  Of course, they might be able to pull it off if they add in characters that are not exclusive to Sony (such as Big Daddy and Dante) or if they actually had the audacity to make Cole into 2 different characters, justified by being a good and an evil version of the same character.  Hell, I guess Microsoft could pull of this kind of game.  There are like 10 different Carmines in Gears of War, and they could always have Master Chief and crestfallen Master Chief.  And, strangely, the characters I enjoyed playing as most were the ones I didn’t know or didn’t give a shit about.  I liked Sir Daniel from the game I can’t even name because I gave all of my shits away to the orphans in Africa.  I liked the strange cat thing, Toro, from whatever the fuck crazy Japanese thing it spilled out of, partially because he felt like this game’s version of Kirby.  I even liked playing as Nariko.  Certainly more than I liked playing as her in the game she came from.  I kind of defaulted to Kratos most times, because I wanted a character that played well that wouldn’t embarrass me.  I liked the Big Daddy too, but watching a Big Daddy get suplexed by Sackboy is not something I endorse.    I do endorse beating the crap out of PaRappa, especially when he keeps shouting about how you’ve gotta believe.  Believe this, PaRappa: I hate you.

The gameplay in this game was as good as it was a few years back on the Nintendo, but they again failed to live up to Smash Brothers.  The biggest problem was that beating up enemies served no good purpose.  In Smash Brothers, you beat people up because weakening them makes them easier to knock out of the level.  There is no ring out in PSASBR.  In other fighting games, you beat up your enemies to take their life bar down to zero.  There are no live bars in this game.  You beat people up to build up super moves, and super moves are pretty much instant kills.  So, basically, your ability to win is only as good as your character’s super move.  Kind of takes a little bit of the fun and strategy out of it.  There were other issues, like how annoying it was to double tap on the screen to pick up an item instead of just pressing a button to do it, but I think I hate most games that force touch screen use on you.  The big problem I thought of in regards to playing this game is I don’t see any reason to do it.  With Smash Brothers, you did it on the big screen on a console that could support four players simultaneously.  On my Vita, I play alone unless I want to go online (which I never really do).  Of course, this game is also available for the PS3, so I might have liked it more that way.

Graphically this game was fantastic.  Sony will always have that over Nintendo because the decision makers in Nintendo really have gamers figured out.  But this graphical improvement comes at a cost.  The load times between levels are awful, and really take you out of the pacing of the game.  You play a level, taking three minutes tops to beat it, and then you can put the Vita down and go get a sandwich waiting for the next match to start.  The levels are also nicely designed.  They start off as one person’s level and, over time, get invaded by a character from another game.  Like playing in Ratchet and Clank’s Metropolis and having the Hydra from God of War pop out of the ground, or having a Metal Gear slice its way into the Patapon level.  The game was musically delightful, but there was a problem with my game and the sound at first, but I don’t really fault the game for it because it was patched while I was still playing it.  And after that, I got to listen to the music from Uncharted from time to time, and I am always ready for that.

Of all the categories that this game comes second to Nintendo in, there is one category that Nintendo could never touch Sony in: trophies.  Sure, one could argue that Nintendo did not do a Trophy or Achievement system, but that feels irrelevant.  The trophies in this game were super easy, and not even very time consuming.  It’s not much more complicated than beating the game with all the characters and using their Level 3 Super Move in their own level.  Then just grab Toro, go online, and get an easy triple and double kill with his Level 3 move that seems to kill everyone on screen no matter what.  Easy Platinum.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a decent enough game that was ripped off wholesale from Nintendo’s Super Smash Brothers, and without very much by way of improvement.  Their characters aren’t nearly as iconic and the gameplay feels pointless and unsatisfying in comparison.  But, this game is not without its charms.  If you don’t own a Nintendo system, if you’re looking for an easy Platinum trophy, or if graphics are more important than gameplay, I could see there being reasons to play this.  Ultimately, I wouldn’t have paid money for this thing, and I wouldn’t be able to recommend it to you.  PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale gets “Super Brawl Brothers” out of “Melee.”

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