With Super Smash Bros Ultimate unveiling its final character in Sora and series director Masahiro Sakurai admitting he’s not thinking about Smash at this point, perhaps now would be a good time for Sony to take a shot at a new Playstation All-Stars.
Sony’s first attempt at making a mascot fighter may have been on the more forgettable side but the concept is rich with potential especially for a company as big as PlayStation.
What are the original Playstation All-Stars?
Seriously, this opening gives me chills
Playstation All-Star’s Battle Royale is a 2012 arena fighting game that starred a series of Playstation’s biggest first and third party icons – Kratos, Sweet Tooth, Ratchet and Clank, Sackboy, and others. It was a clear answer to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros, some would even say rip off, but it was still a cool idea. Nintendo obviously wasn’t going to put Sony’s characters in Smash so why not Playstation have their own game and give Ninty a bit of competition.
Unfortunately, the reception to Playstation All-Stars was lukewarm at best. It wasn’t a terrible game but it didn’t really stand out and ended up fading into Playstation history. There were multiple problems with the game that prevented it from reaching its full potential but these are all things that not only be improved on but really make Playstation All-Stars a major force in the fighting game space.
Fighting games live and die by their roster of characters and Playstation All-Star’s roster was a mixed bag. Yes, you had some big names in it, but then you had odd choices like characters like Fat Princess and Big Daddy, you had choices that were blatantly there to promote their upcoming games like Raiden and DMC Reboot Dante as opposed to the much more iconic original Dante. Finally with how many characters are missing that would have been good picks, the main ones being Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, and a Final Fantasy character, among others.
For a sequel to succeed, it really has to pull in a few more of those classic icons associated with the PlayStation Brand. Although, this is admittedly made a little harder by the fact that a lot of those iconic characters have also been scooped up by Smash.
Cloud, Snake, Sora, and Joker would be easy picks for Playstation but Nintendo’s got to them first. But I don’t think it matters too much. First of all, there’s no rule saying that characters in Smash can’t be in Playstation, I’m fairly sure Konami is more than happy to loan Snake to anyone willing to pay them enough.
More importantly, though, a lot has changed since the original Playstation All-Star’s came out. Sony has crafted a critically acclaimed line-up of first-party Sony-owned IPs whose characters would be perfect to force to fight to the death. Joel from The Last of Us, Jin from Ghost of Tsushima, Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, hell put Spiderman from Marvel’s Spiderman in the game, there is nothing saying he can’t be in.
There are so many popular characters associated with the Playstation brand. A combination is well known classic characters and Sony’s more modern lineup would likely make for an exciting game that fans would be happy with.
The next problem was that Playstation All-Star’s combat was odd. The game is a 5 player arena beat ’em up but in an effort to not completely copy Smash, the game makes use of a super meter system where attacking builds your meter, which then allows you to kill the opponent with a special move. This is the only way to knock an opponent out and the super moves heavily vary in practicality making the game very unbalanced (sorry Sir Daniel).
There is not an easy way to solve this. The super meter system just doesn’t seem completely viable but it would be better to make it closer to Smash bros and use the sumo style, hit people of the screen concept? I’m guessing the developers would probably want something more original to build their own identity. They could make it more like a traditional fighting game with a life bar. Ultimately it’ll be up to the developers but it’ll be most important to keep it balanced and relatively accessible.
The final problem with the original PlayStation All-Stars was the presentation was a little on the bland side. When you look at Smash, at its high-quality character reveal trailers and orchestral music, there’s a sense of grandeur. It always felt like Smash was more than just a game, it’s an event, it’s something to pay attention to even if you don’t really like fighting games.
Playstation All-Stars doesn’t have that. Its menus were bland, its animations were solid but nothing special and after going a few rounds through the arcade and multiplayer, there isn’t a lot to keep you going.
They will likely be the biggest overall need for the game. I’m not saying it has to copy smash, the game needs its own identity, but for a game that brings PlayStations best and brightest together, a bit more pizzazz would go a long way.
The potential for Playstation
For all the good Smash has done, it has always lacked in one particular area, officially supported E-sports. Nintendo has remained stubborn in support of Smash’s competitive scene much to the chagrin of the community. Sony on the other hand, currently co-owns EVO, often considered the largest annual fighting game tournament in the world. They also have an online service that doesn’t completely suck.
They have connections with Square Enix, Sega, Namco Bandai, Capcom among others, and the money to support such a project. They have the potential to put out a great fighting game if they are willing to put the time and resources into it.