PlayStation Allstars Battle Royale impressions:

I'll get this out of the way now: mechanically, PlayStation Allstars Battle Royal is absolutely on par with Smash Bros. I'd go so far as to say SuperBot has created the King of Fighters to Smash Bros.' Street Fighter - a game where the influence is undeniable, but also where it succeeds in distinguishing itself as something unique and enjoyable. In fact, if Sony and SuperBot put forth the necessary effort (and budget) for a sequel, I think they could accomplish in two games what it took Turn 10 four attempts to achieve with Forza: be universally acknowledged as an equal instead of an also-ran.

It's funny...with the majority of my experience with PlayStation Allstars being tied to the beta, finally having all twenty characters at my disposal feels almost surreal. And it makes the roster seem way more vast than it actually is - because twenty (soon to be twenty-two) is kind of weenie for an ensemble fighter. I think even King of Fighters '94 had twenty-four characters (though to be fair, a number of those were created specifically for that game). And Fighters Megamix had something like thirty-five characters. So yeah, the roster could definitely stand to be bigger. I mean, there's next to no SCEJ representation whatsoever...that alone could add at least half-dozen characters.

Aesthetically the game is a mixed bag. The stages are gorgeous. Seriously...my god...these things in motion are some of the most animated and polished arenas I've seen in any fighting game. And the character models all look great and animate flawlessly. Likewise, it's readily apparent that a great deal of care went into creating movesets indicative of whatever game each combatant hailed from - I've been using Nathan Drake quite a bit, and his moves are practically game-porn for an Uncharted nut like myself. The extra costumes are largely a win as well. Though there are several duds, the best tend to come from IPs with multiple installments. Minions are a fun, if superfluous addition (who doesn't want a chibi Sully or Zeke cheering them on?) and the unlockable custom victory music, intros, and outros all add to the fun of celebrating these assorted franchises.

On the downside are things like the UI, which is incredibly bland and utilitarian. The sparse single-player modes, which are roughly on par with most of this generation's fighting game offerings (that is to say, Arcade, Trials, Practice, and that's pretty much it). And the lack of anything like Melee's trophy room, acknowledging the PlayStation's catalog well above and beyond the IPs represented in the character roster. However, even with the above cons (and they do count for plenty in an ensemble game) - I take serious issue with anyone scoring this game lower than a 7.5. Superbot can patch in any of the above, they can't patch in a solid, polished mechanical foundation. And like I said earlier (somewhat incorrectly included in the aesthetics talk), the characters feel surprisingly balanced and radically different from one another (and yes, I saw Kratos getting stomped all over the place - so don't worry).

Overall it's a wonderful game and an impressive first effort from Superbot. And here's hoping to plenty of additions and tweaks over the next six to twelve months and a sequel in the next two years.