Ever wonder what Super Smash Bros might be like if it didn't have any Nintendo characters in it? Well, the closest game you could get that would fit that criteria would probably leave you scratching your head wondering why you didn't just get Super Smash Bros instead. If you know what game I'm talking about (or you happened to have read the title of this article), then you know that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale needs no introduction. So without further ado, let's begin the examination.
Released to most major countries in late November of 2012, PlayStation All-Stars is a 4-player Free-for-All fighting game for the PS3 and PS Vita. In it, you can chose to play as one of twenty different first, second, and third party characters (twenty-four if you include DLC) spanning many games from PlayStation's history. Some of these characters include well known favorites like Jak from the Jak & Daxter series, Kratos from the God of War series, and even Parappa the Rapper, and also some lesser known characters like Sir Daniel from MediEvil and Spike from Ape Escape. However, while the selection of characters is fairly good, the battle system leaves something to be desired.
Unlike Super Smash Bros where the goal is to rack up your opponent's damage meter high enough so you can launch them off the stage, your goal in this game is to build up the meter for your super attack and use it to vaporize your opponent. This is very similar to the Smash Bros series' Final Smash moves, but with the additional ability to charge your finisher up to level three and the disappointing fact that this is the ONLY way to score points in the main game modes. Because of this feature, and the fact that the meter charges quite slowly, the best way to play is to set the meter's charge rate to high, otherwise you're not going to have much fun.
A small favorable difference from Smash is the fact that each character has three different sets of attacks mapped to Square, Triangle and Circle by default instead of Smash's standard and special attacks mapped respectively to the A and B buttons. This adds a bit more variety for combos and specials, but they are a bit difficult to pull off as the controls are a bit stiff. Battle mechanics aside, the differences don't just stop at the character's attacks, but the stages also have something unique about them being that they are fusions of games from two entirely different game franchises like Jak & Daxter with Hot Shots Golf and LocoRoco with Metal Gear Rising. This makes battles fairly enjoyable and much more interesting, assuming you can stand the somewhat long load times.
All in all, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale tries too hard to be something that it's not. The visuals and music are great, but that doesn't forgive the fact that the gameplay gets drawn out for too long due to the fact that the only way to knock out your opponent is with a finishing move. The game isn't great, but this doesn't automatically make it a bad game either. I enjoyed the time I had with it, but the novelty of the game started to wear thin after a while because it felt like it was desperately trying to be Smash Bros instead of trying to be its own thing. Overall, the game is pretty average, but that shouldn't stop you from playing it a few times in your life. But until then, I'll be seeing you.