|Yes, that's a giant Chop Chop Master Onion kicking a Killzone Robot thing.|
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale has kind of been a thing that's on everybody's radar mostly because it's, well, a big ordeal as a game on a basic level. Mascot fighting games aren't numerous in number and in fact is sort of a point of contention in what counts for the term, further thinning the numbers. Regardless, the 'big boy' of the genre has been seen as Super Smash Bros. since it came out and few games have come out in the meanwhile, and fewer still that could hope to challenge for that title in the public eye. So when PASBR was announced and showed off, there was a lot of eye-rolling and saying "Oh boy, a rip-off of Super Smash Bros., that's going to be pretty bad." and then there wasn't a lot of thought beyond that. Yet there was some reason, I can't place just what it was, that compelled me to get it even though my time with the Beta was minimal and I walked away thinking it was 'alright'. Having played it for the bulk of today, however, I am very, very glad that I put down the money for this game because it's certainly worth it.
Utilizing the Cross-Buy feature of the game, I've spent all my time with the Vita version of the game which is a wonderful, wonderful version of the game. It's clear and good-looking and most importantly, the frame rate seems to be locked in the actual matches. Maybe it was a trick of my eyes, but it seemed like one of the menus was cutting sub-30 for some reason as I went to customize one of the characters I played with, but it was only a "Blink and you'll miss it" deal and being outside of playing the game, it doesn't matter even one lick. There are simply not enough positive things I can say about the port job that was done on this game and unless something drastically changes in the meanwhile, I daresay that it is quite nearly perfectly done.
As far as the game goes, the actual gameplay is rather fantastic as it's simple and accessible enough to pick up and understand in the span of a match and 'master' in as little as a few matches depending on the character, yet it's deep enough that there's strategy to it - not just slamming buttons. That's what I enjoy the most, personally, because yes, slamming buttons does the job sometimes, but if you're not going to employ a little finesse then you're just wasting your time in my opinion. Catering the the usual tenets of fighting games here, there are various types of fighters and they all rely on their own style to get you through. Characters like Raiden and Cole (and his Evil version) are Strikers who exist to hit things in rapid succession in ways that are still not just mashing on buttons. Then you have characters like Sackboy (yes, I've only played four characters so far, don't judge me) who aren't so adept in that and you have to rely more on trappings and the like. Sackboy has a move that can drop a shock pad down that just waits there for someone to step on it. He also has a move where he lays down a desk fan which pushes enemies in the opposite direction. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.
(Side note, Sackboy also knows how to German Suplex things with the Grabinator Gloves, no I don't know what the hell)
The way the game seems to work is that every character has an Arcade Mode which is actually a Story Mode which means you have an intro that sort of explains why they're in the Tournament (Think Mortal Kombat, but nobody knows what the hell is going on) and then they have a cutscene all the way at the end with a 'rival' which is a term used loosely. Some Rivalries are awesome and amazing, like Cole vs. Raiden which is fucking perfect A++ would praise again, and some of them are....Evil Cole versus Fat Princess. This is a perfect way to show off the light-hearted mood the game carries overall, even with the inclusion of some moodier characters like Raiden or Kratos, and I wholeheartedly support it. If it tried to be too serious about it, it'd be a wholly different deal, but thankfully they avoided that pitfall deftly. Following the Rival battle, you're immediately placed into the Boss fight against Polygon Man (which is, again an -awesome- idea) and upon winning, you're treated to a little outro that basically sums up what the character has derived from it. It's certainly not story-intensive, but it also doesn't need to be, and what little is there is done well enough that I can't fault it.
If you need some examples, I can share a couple from my experiences today. Cole hears of a gathering of powerful people and thinks they're Conduits, so he goes to investigate to find out their intention and also see if any of them will help him defend 'the city', which could be New Marias or Empire City, I don't know. After beating a bunch of people, he encounters Raiden who is a little hostile and puts him out, beats Polygon Man and returns to 'the city' with the knowledge that he can protect it all on his own. Sackboy hears of a world that's devoid of inspiration, of creation, and sets out to right that wrong. He meets up with a Little Sister who thinks he's adorable and wants to keep him but her Big Daddy is less than impressed. Sackboy puts him down, beats Polygon Man and returns to LittleBigPlanet with a wealth of new inspiration with which to further create and better LittleBigPlanet. (Side note: His intro and outro are narrated by Stephen Fry as per LBP games and it's wonderful.) As I said, it's by no means story intensive, but I don't need a cutscene after every fight where Kratos ponders why he repeatedly stabbed PaRappa the Rapper in the gut and vows to get revenge on Zeus who is sending playthings after him or I don't even know, you get where I'm going with this.
The most important thing to take away from all this is that Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale is fun. Incredibly so. I'm sure nobody really assumed that was going to be a thing that happened, but I am here to tell you that it did. It did just happen. Beyond the Story Mode, there's also trials for every character to take which allows you to get a feel for them, as well as versus modes (I assume for local play mostly) and the online fare with ranked matches and the like. And even beyond that, the game is lousy with unlockables which is to say there's a ton of them. (That's a proper usage of 'lousy with', btw, I'm sure you knew that, but I wanted to make sure you also knew I wasn't being facetious) Playing with a character ultimately earns you Rank Points that ranks you up for a win as well as for earning any Goal bonuses or the like (Win 25 Arcade Matches, etc. stuff like that) which increases your rank. Each character can seemingly go to Rank 200 which I assume you might meet with -one- character that you -really- like if you're heavy into online stuff, but at the same time, it is -there- for you to aspire to with the others if you so desire. Which means, in short, there's a whole hell of a lot of game there if you're interested. And while I won't go to that extreme, I know that I'm going to have to actually ponder whether I want to play Persona 4 Golden or PASBR which is a decision I really didn't think I'd have to make last week.