Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
Rumors of a Sony fighter in the style of Smash Bros. have been swirling for quite some time now, and the publisher finally let the cat out of the bag at a recent showcase event. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale will feature a cast of characters from the brand's 18 years in the gaming industry, and I played it using a restricted selection of combatants.
Sony unveiled Kratos, Sly Cooper, Parappa the Rapper, Fat Princess, Sweet Tooth, and Killzone's Colonel Radec as playable characters. Four stages were available, including Hades (God of War), Sandover Village (Jak & Daxter), Dreamscape (LittleBigPlanet), and Metropolis (Ratchet & Clank). Unlike the singularly focused stages of Super Smash Bros., most of these stages eventually morph to showcase trademarks from another PlayStation series.
Hades is set in the Underworld, with the namesake god performing shockwave attacks on the playing field. The background eventually shifts to a Patapon stage, and the dancing creatures begin throwing spears at players. The grassy islands of Sandover Village are visited by golfers from Hot Shots at certain points in the round, and they begin showering golf balls from the sky. Metropolis is a futuristic city that features an appearance from Captain Qwark. His visit is cut short thanks to the Hydra from God of War, who bursts up through the stage and sends the bumbling superhero flying. Dreamscape feels different than the other stages, as it's set in the level editor of LittleBigPlanet. You see Pop-It bubbles and creation elements spring up throughout the fight, which creates different platforms to battle on. Keeping with the hybrid stage theme, it eventually turns into an impromptu game of Buzz! Quiz. A PlayStation-related question appears on the screen, and the fighters have to stand on the platform that corresponds with the correct answer to avoid taking damage.
Like Smash Bros., each character has a variety of moves accessed via a directional input in conjunction with an attack button (square, circle, or triangle). Every character has approximately two dozen attacks in their arsenal, and they vary wildly. Kratos has his trademark blades, Radec stays at range with his sniper rifle and other guns, Sweet Tooth controls space with land mines, and Parappa relies on the karate moves he picked up from Chop Chop Master Onion.
None of this really strays from the Smash Bros. formula, but the scoring method has notable differences. Attacking foes fills an AP bar at the bottom of the screen, which grants three levels of a super attack once filled. You can attack an opponent all day, but the only way you'll actually score a point is if you KO them with a super attack. Level one attacks are usually limited, such as Parappa's spin kick. Once you get to level three, however, you're almost guaranteed a couple of points with screen-clearing attacks. Parappa breaks into a rap performance that annihilates nearby opponents, while Sweet Tooth transforms into his robot form for an insane damage boost.
Considering the importance of super attacks, managing your AP becomes the focus. Items like rocket launchers and the Spear of Destiny from God of War will occasionally drop onto the battlefield, and they can be used to reduce the super meter of opponents. AP orbs can be granted by certain moves, such as Parappa's Boxy Boy boombox ability.
There's no denying where the inspiration for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale comes from, but I had fun during my time with it. Sony's characters may not fit the colorful, family-friendly mold of Nintendo's creations, but their differences make for some entertaining and varied attacks and play styles. While plenty of roster reveals are inevitable before Battle Royale is released, I can't help but wonder if it'll compare to the variety in Nintendo's fighter. That said, we wouldn't be surprised to see big names like Nathan Drake, Sackboy, Jak, and Ratchet join the fray (Crash Bandicoot is likely excluded thanks to the fact that he isn't Sony-exclusive anymore). It's far from a novel idea, but All-Stars Battle Royale made for a fast-paced and fun four-player experience in my time with it.
Check out footage of the game in action below.