Ever since it was officially announced earlier this year (following months of rumors pointing towards its existence), PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale has been getting a mostly positive response. There have been those critical of the game's set-up, insisting that Sony and SuperBot Entertainment are doing nothing more than ripping off Nintendo's mega-successful Super Smash Bros. series. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery however, and that Sony has a loyal fan base all its own so the game sounds like a win-win in formula.
To be honest, PlayStation All Stars does stand out on its own when it comes to formula. The developers at SuperBot have eliminated the cheap deaths that come from falling off a stage or getting knocked into the stratosphere at the brink of 200 percent damage. Instead it's got a concentrated battle system that allows you to build up super attacks to up to three levels, then unleash them to earn points that add up at the end of the round. The stages also show a brilliant amount of variety, from an ever-changing Buzz! TV game show stage to a homage to LocoRoco on the PSP.
Development of the PS3 version is coming along well and the game is also in the works for the PlayStation Vita. There should be a significant number of players behind it – especially with Sony applying the Cross-Buy rule to it; if you buy the PS3 version, the downloadable Vita version is included free. Sony recently held a public beta of the PS Vita version, allowing players to try PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale out.
The beta only had six playable characters – Sweet Tooth from Twisted Metal, Kratos from God of War, Parappa the Rapper, Sly Cooper, Fat Princess and General Radec from Killzone, the same six that were initially introduced when the game was publicly revealed months ago. Even with the small selection, there's still a good amount of depth. Radec is a killer from a distance with his assault rifle, though he has strong melee attacks as well. Kratos is a bad ass as expected, with a range of weapons and god-like super techniques. Fat Princess is a surprisingly able fighter, as she can whip a foe with up-close attacks before moving in for a super attack with various members of her defending squad.
The PS Vita version of the game ran just fine. Even though only a pair of the stages were available, the Vita can output impressive visual quality. The Ratchet/God of War hybrid stage was a real standout; after fighting through a futuristic metropolis with shifting walls and Captain Qwark jabbering in the background, out of nowhere a trio of serpents pop up and change the stage. Seeing this in action WHILE you're fighting in the foreground is quite a sight and the way the animations hold together while all this is happening is really something. Each character has a distinct style, whether it's Kratos swinging around his chain blades with all the majesty of an Spartan warrior or Parappa the Rapper doing his "I Gotta Believe" shtick with his funky moves.
The gameplay works for the PlayStation Vita. Instead of relying on overly gimmicky touch-screen controls like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the game relies more on the analog stick to move your character and the various buttons to perform three types of attacks. You can also hold down the shoulder buttons if you feel like blocking, though you can be vulnerable if you do that for too long. Executing a super move is as simple as tapping two buttons together and wiping out whatever is in your range.
Though we would've liked to have seen more characters in the beta, it did allow us to play online – and it's great. We had no trouble matching up against friends and random people. What's more, the final version will also be compatible with the PlayStation 3 version of the game, doubling the potential audience for it. Let's see Smash Bros. do that – oh wait, they probably won't for at least for a couple of years…
Though the beta is over, but PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale is coming soon to both PS3 and PlayStation Vita on November 20th. If you're an avid fighting fan, this is one brawler you don't want to turn down.