PlayStation Smash Bros. That’s what this game is, right?
It’s largely a matter of opinion, but many may consider PlayStation to have the best cast of characters throughout three generations of platforms. Sure, Nintendo has Mario, Link, and Samus, but outside of the big three, the roster in Super Smash Bros. isn’t anything to brag about. I’m looking at you, Ice Climbers.
PlayStation, on the other hand, has no one near Mario status. But with 20 total playable characters each equally worthy of fans’ cheers and jeers, and each with plenty of personality and style, the roster here is a more complete package. And you might say that third-party franchises, like Tekken or Metal Gear Solid, were at one point synonymous with PlayStation.
SuperBot has taken each of these character’s styles and personalities, and piledrived them into the game— stages, appearances, movesets, and all. They’re so well-matched to what you expect from each character, it’s as if you’re playing an extension of God of War or Heavenly Sword. It’s exactly the way PlayStation fans—whom this is designed for, after all—wanted it.
However, the roster itself is too heavily populated by characters that debuted on the PS3, with not enough throwbacks for the old-schoolers like me. Nathan Drake is a must given the success of the Uncharted series, and Nariko from Heavenly Sword is a good fit for her fighting style—but two Cole McGraths? That’s just redundant and useless.
Still, both Coles play well enough and differ enough so that they’re not a detriment to the game. In fact, all of the characters play equally well. PlayStation All-Stars shines in its balancing. Kratos’ moveset is varied and powerful, but his level one super move is ineffective. His level two supermove is much more powerful, but only at close range. It’s not until his last, the all-powerful level three super move, that he’s capable of dishing out the vengeance that the Ghost of Sparta is renowned for. Raiden, on the other hand, has the most effective level one super move in the game, easily capable of three kills at once, while his higher level super moves don’t quite cut it.
This is important to note for strategy, because these PlayStation icons live and die by the super move. Instead of a health bar, characters build AP through attacks, blocks, taunts, and throws. The more this AP meter grows, the higher the level of super move that can be performed. Landing one successfully awards two points, while dying as a result of one removes a point. Whoever has the most points at the end of the match wins.
It’s very straightforward in its approach and serves as an easy-to-learn strategy for beginners. In that sense, PlayStation All-Stars is very accessible and is something you can pick right up and play. The yin to this yang is that it lacks depth that fans of fighting staples like Street Fighter or even Tekken—a franchise in which PSASBR borrows a character from—so crave. You won’t find long-chain pop-up combos with juggles, advanced counter-attacks, or parries.
Any fighting game is best played with or against a friend or stranger, and PlayStation All-Stars supports up to four players, both online and offline. The servers and matchmaking are smooth from the get-go, quickly getting you into the fight—which is even smoother.
But should you get stuck playing with yourself… I mean, by yourself, there are plenty of options. Arcade mode is a road to face off against a giant, purple, spiked head that goes by the name of Polygon Man. You may remember him from PSOne advertising, but probably not. Only us old folk do. Since he isn’t aligned with any one franchise, he makes for a great boss choice but isn’t all that intimidating. Beating him earns you a mostly unrelated scripted ending, each unique to whatever character you’re playing. It’s just what you’d expect from any fighter.
Finishing the arcade mode or taking on one of the many trials per character earns rank. Rank unlocks a host of extras that let you customize the experience—everything from opening theme music to backgrounds for your player card. Over 1000 unlockables are said to be in tow, so collectors and completionists will be pleased.
If you’re one of the few who own both a PS3 and a PS Vita, PlayStation All-Stars is a purchase that’s double in value. As part of Sony’s cross-buy promotion, picking up the PS3 version of the game entitles you to a digital Vita version. The two are interchangeable online and are carbon copies of each other. Given the recent slate of disappointing PlayStation Vita titles, it comes as quite a shock to see that everything the PS3 version can do, the Vita version can do better. Well, not better, but much prettier thanks to that OLED screen.
Graphically, it’s plausible, since the PS3 version doesn’t have character models brimming with detail. It easily translates over to the Vita, just wrapped up in a tinier package—a package packed tight with fanfare.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is the game that PlayStation fans have been begging for for years. And you can tell it was made by fans, too. Where it may lack in depth, it more than makes up for it in charm, personality, and style—exactly the same qualities that made each of the characters on the rosters memorable PlayStation icons.