As far as the mascot based bash-em-up genre is concerned, there is really only one game worth mentioning. Super Smash Bros. brought together a host of Nintendo’s most recognisable characters and pitted them against each other in an all-in brawl. Well, Sony clearly hopes to emulate this feat with PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale. Not content with just copying the formula, developer SuperBot Entertainment is looking change it up and bring something new to the table. I spoke with Omar Kendall, director of the game to find out how different it really is.
I wanted to know how the game came about and what the idea behind it all was. Kendall was happy to fill me in. “An original studio was formed with a very high level idea of let’s make a game. Eventually they settled on the idea of PlayStation All-Stars, a game with all of these great Sony characters doing something. It was very open ended at the time, just an idea to have something like the laugh Olympics (that Hanna Barbera show where all their characters came together). The goal was simply having fun with a great cast of characters. It was about two years ago when they came up with the idea of doing a brawler, and it just came from several different prototypes. I have seen several different versions of the game and not all of them were fighters. All sorts of weird variations on the mash up were tested. We just found that getting four people together on the couch duking it out was a really fun thing and that’s how we settled on the brawler idea.”
I then dealt with the proverbial elephant in the room. I asked Kendall about the inevitable comparisons with Super Smash Bros. What separated All-Stars from Nintendo’s efforts? “Our first difference is obviously the PlayStation brand, and PlayStation characters. From a gameplay perspective, the biggest difference is the super system. In Smash Bros. you are filling up the percentages trying to knock the opposition off the edge. Our game is about building a meter towards super moves which score points. It creates a different gameplay style. While visually there are similarities, once people sit down with it they recognise the difference as soon as they play. It plays very much like its own thing.”
Another point I was curious about was how the team determined which characters would appear in the game, especially the more obscure ones like Fat Princess and Sir Daniel. “Well you have the Drakes and the Ratchet and Clanks who are all obvious choices and in a game of this nature they have to be there. They are the no brainers. A game like this lends itself to introducing players to some new characters and franchises they may not have encountered before. Fat Princess is probably the best example of this, being from this small downloadable capture-the-flag game but we thought we could have some fun and bring her to this game. We hope this will call attention to a smaller yet important part of the PlayStation universe. Most of our choices, barring the obvious ones, came down to thinking like that,” said Kendall.
Further to my previous question, I asked Kendall how hard it was to get the non Sony characters such as Big Daddy and Dante. “When we approached the companies, they were all very open to the concept, which was very cool. We got characters like Heihachi and Big Daddy, who we know a lot about. We have played their games and know how they move and act. We got to work with their developers who were all very cool, giving us anything we need. Then we have characters like Dante and Raiden from Metal Gear Rising and those games aren’t even out yet and are still being developed. This presented a unique challenge to us because we obviously need to get our game together so we need a lot of information from the developer and a lot of times they didn’t have it. It simply hadn’t been developed yet. Obviously they are very different games, so we did have some leeway, but it certainly was an interesting experience. “
Single player is often an afterthought in games like this. I wanted to know what would be on offer for gamers out there that prefer to go it alone. His response was promising. “We have an arcade mode which is the traditional one-one fighting game style mode. You know the type. You go in, select your character, find out why he or she has been dragged in to this crazy mash up. He will then progress and come across this fantasy match up system we have woven in. This is based around fights we think the players want to see, for example if you are playing as Jak & Daxter you will come across Ratchet & Clank, there will be some dialogue and then the fantasy battle people have been waiting for. You do then eventually progress to a boss character who gives you some more insight to where this crazy universe came from and get some closure for your character. Of course you can do this for every character in the game. We also have combat trials, sort of our edutainment mode, it teaches you the combat system from the game and at the same time entertains you and encourages you to beat your scores.”
From my brief time with the beta (and my conversation with Kendall) it is clear that PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale is certainly its own beast and not simply a clone. Hopefully the full game pans out to be a cracker because I am sure there are plenty of folks out there that would get a kick out of Fat Princess beating up Kratos.
PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale is due for release in Australia on PS3 and PSV on Thursday 22nd November 2012.