Review: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale for PS Vita

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Title: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Price: $59.99 on PS3, $39.99 on Vita
System(s): PS Vita (Also for PS3)
Release Date: November 20, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Sony (SuperBot Entertainment, SCE Santa Monica Studio, Bluepoint Games for Vita version)
ESRB Rating: “Teen” for Crude Humor, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes and Violence

When PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was announced, the reception was mixed. Some people were excited about the PS3 and Vita getting a brawler, free-for-all fighter filled with iconic characters. Others were ambivalent about the project because they didn’t know what would be involved. The majority, however, immediately decried it as being a Smash Bros clone. That, combined with a lackluster beta that was plagued by crashes led to an ominous foreboding. However, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has overcome all that and while it isn’t my favorite game in this class of fighter, I had much more fun than I expected and applaud Sony’s effort.

Providing the flimsiest of stories to provide an excuse for everyone being in the same place to beat each other up.

The PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale competitors haven’t all shown up for no reason to beat up on other characters. Each character has his or her own reasons for fighting. Toro wants to meet his favorite stars and maybe come closer to being human. Nariko wants to find the power to master and control her sword. Dante thinks all of the opponents are demons and has come to fight them. Each character’s motivations vary and each has a “rival” to fight before the big boss battle.

Unfortunately, the stories are all rather short. You get static images presenting the brief reason each character wants to fight for about one or two minutes before all of the matches begin. There is then a brief segment before the rival match where the player character talks to the other character before another fight. Finally, story mode closes out with a few more static images presenting the resolution and showing him or her with the newfound power earned from winning the tournament. That, combined with the fact that there are only 20 included characters, is rather disappointing. Granted, Gravity Rush‘s Kat and Starhawk‘s Emmett Graves are incoming, but you’d still expect a larger roster considering Sony has had 18 years, three consoles and two handhelds worth of content to draw from for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.

Strategically plotting means of blowing opponents away.

We’ve already gone over the pitfalls of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale‘s single player arcade mode, so let’s ge into the other aspects. Battle in general is very simplistic. Attacks are carried out with the square, triangle and circle buttons, and pressing a button in conjunction with a direction will change the kind of attack or skill used. Players can jump and double jump around arenas, and it is possible to both dodge and block attacks. Items can also come into play, which are grabbed with a touch of a button or tap of the screen. Specials are triggered with a tap of the right shoulder button, with different specials launched depending on whether a character’s gauge has reached the first, second or third level. Players’ do not have life bars, but instead try to attack opponents to fill the special gauge, then land special attacks to knock opponents out to earn points.

That’s what really defines PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. It’s a thinking, and sometimes waiting, game. You can’t just go in wailing on somebody. You have to know when to use the most effective attacks and those specials. The key is to take out as many people at once, while also using evasive manuevers and throws when around people who have a full gauge. Since there are no life points, it’s about timing the right move when as many people as possible are around so they can all be taken out simultaneously.

From there, it’s use a special, build up the gauge and use a special again. This formula works best in timed matches, because then everyone’s geting in there and doing their best to take everyone else out. However, it can lead to tedium in matches where one person has to knock out opponents X number of times to win. That’s when PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale drags, because suddenly it becomes a game of tag where everyone is fleeing from the person with the full super bar.

Still, it all works quite well. The stages look awesome and have a “surprise” halfway through where a stage reminiscent of another Sony game crashes the party. I particularly liked the LittleBigPlanet/Buzz! Quiz World mash-up, as it actually challenges players to answer a question during the battle, then rewards those who answered correctly and punishes those who didn’t. All the stages are interactive though, which is a nice touch.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale just looks good in general. The specials especially are fun to see, and I have to say Parappa the Rapper’s level 3 special is most charming, while I like the devastation that can be dealt with Nariko’s level 2 and 3 specials. It also looks just as good on the Vita as it does on the PS3, so between that and the cross-play compatibility I’d probably recommend going with the Vita version. Of course, if you have both systems the best deal is the PS3 version of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, as it comes with a download for the Vita version.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale can stand proudly alongside the competition

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is better than I expected. It will never overtake Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Jump Ultimate Stars in my heart when it comes to mash-up fighters, but it stands tall as a solid brawler. The PS3 and Vita have needed a game like this, and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale fills the void well. Granted, I would have liked a larger character roster and a better story mode would have been nice to enhance the single player experience, but I still found it to be a delightful timesink and would like to see a bigger and better sequel in a few years.

Site [PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale]

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