The Wasted Opportunity of Playstation All-Stars
Warning, this is a long read, so grab yourself a drink and hopefully you'll enjoy my overly nerdy analysis
I think everyone here may have played a Smash Bros game at some point. If you haven't, go do so right now, because the series is absolutely fantastic. The crazy fighting style which makes it feel like everyone can play, and yet there's a huge ammount of complexity, the huge ammount of content (I've played over a 100 hours of Brawl, and am still unlocking things), and a sense of nostalgia only the crazy folks of Nintendo can pull off.
With the series' popularity, there were several different people asking the same question: Why hasn't Sony done anything with this formula? I mean, Sony has plenty of iconic that could work great in a fighting game. It should be easy to do, right....... right?
When Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was announced, I thought to myself: wow, that's a long title. My immediate second thought was: about time. This is what fans have been clamoring for. A party fighting game that Sony fans could call their own. As a Nintendo fanboy, I wished Sony the best of luck with this.
The first batch of characters announced proved to be interesting. Obviously Kratos was going to be in it, Sweet Tooth also made sense with his latest game having just released at that time, Sly Cooper was a Playstation icon, those characters all made sense. Parappa the Rapper as well, even though the franchise has been dormant for a while. But then you had characters like Fat Princess, which confused me.I know that the game was enjoyed a lot when it came out in 2009, but you rarely see people talk about it these days. And Colonel Radecc from Killzone? Killzone is a popular franchise, yes, but is Radecc that popular of a character? I'd never even heard of himI shrugged it off though, thinking that Sony would have plenty more characters up their sleeve.
And they did, sort off. Of course there was Nathan Drake and of course there was Ratchet and Clank, and there was Sackboy too. But I started to notice a disturbing trend with some of the choices made. Soon we got characters like Spike from Ape Escape, Nariko from Heavenly Sword, Sir Daniel from Medievil, and even Toro, who is one of the Japanese mascots of the PS3. Ask any normal person, hell, ask any modern gamers who these characters are, and they'll just look at you funny.
This made me realize something. Sony may have quite a bunch of franchises, but when you get right down to it, has only very few iconic characters. I mean, yeah, Kratos is a icon. Sackboy has found its way as a icon, Ratchet and Clank still is, lots of people know Nathan Drake. But after that, it kind of stops. Most of these characters either haven't had a game released in a long time (Medievil, Jak and Daxter), another was part of a failed franchise (Heavenly Sword, though it definitely deserved better), or are simply not recognizable unless you're a big gamer (Radec, Cole McGrath to a certain extent). And even then, where was Wander from Shadow of the Collosus? A character from Resistance? What about Ethan Mars from Heavy Rain (after how Podcast Beyond described how he would fit in, it would be awesome)
But hey, everything would be ok, because Sony would also add a bunch of 3rd party characters. While Smash only had 2 (granted, they were Solid Snake and Sonic, which is a big deal), All-Stars would have a lot more. O boy! Does this mean the return of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro? Those were the big mascots of Playstation back in the day? Will we see Cloud from Final Fantasy VII, or maybe Squall? Maybe we'll see Lara Croft or Ezio? The possibilities were endless.
Now this obviously couldn't live up to the hype. The ammount of iconic 3rd party characters on Playstation. But even then, we were disappointed. In the end, there only 4 3rd party characters. Yes, Big Daddy was a cool announcement because it sort of came out of nowhere. But then there were characters like Raiden (guess Snake was sleeping at Nintendo's camp), which was alright, and Tekken was largely seen as a PS franchise, so Heihachi made a bit of sense. The elephant in the room however is Dante. Not the original Dante who you could call a icon and would perfectly fit, but the new Dante from DmC, a whole 2 months before that game was even out. I'm not one of those people who's against the new Dante, at all, but why was he chosen for this game instead of the original? It just seems more like a marketing ploy for DmC than a celebration of Sony
Speaking of marketing ploy, why was Columbia a stage in the game. Bioshock Infinite is not out yet, and won't be for another month. This just seems incredibly forced marketing, and more of a way to get Irrational to make more content for Sony rather than its competitors (when are we going to see more of that Bioshock Vita Game?). Just a small nitpick I guess
So I've gone on and on about the characters and how they kind of underwhelm, that's of course far from it. Superbot couldn't simply copy Smash Bros' fighting style, otherwise it would jump into plagarism. I thought a simple life bar would suffice. What Superbot came up with though, is kind of dumb. For those that don't know, you basically have to hit your opponent to fill up a Super Meter. That's the only purpose for those hits, because the only way to kill your opponent is via those super moves. That's it. I cannot fathom the idea that went behind. This means that only 3 of the attacks really matter, and the rest makes you feel like the Sack from Smash Bros. It doesn't matter that you get hit, it won't kill you, just avoid those Super Moves.
Despite all of this, Sony could've still marketed it well and made a franchise out of this, and make this the supposed jumping of point. After all, the original Smash Bros is barely a shadow of the giant that Melee is. That's not dissing Smash Bros, that's just pointing out how revolutionary Melee was. But that did not happen. Sony barely marketed the thing, and only people who follow gaming knew it was coming out. There were some ads released on tv (at least here in the Netherlands), but they only appeared late at night. This is not how you market a game. Remember, people have been clamoring for a Sony Smash Bros for years. Make a parody of the famous Smash Bros ad or something. Use that to your advantage. Its funny, a few months back, a fired playtester from Sony said that Sony was sending out some titles to let them die, releasing them with very little marketing as they were greenlit in a time of different management. It seems like All-Stars was part of that list (Sly 4 seems to be as well, considering how that game came out of nowhere with very few trailers and ads)
What is the inevitable result of all this? A wasted opportunity, that's what. To date, All-Stars has only sold 400K (500K if you count the Vita version) copies in the 2 months that its out. It didn't even crack the Top 20 in the UK charts when it was released. Since then, Superbot has to fire nearly a third of their staff, and Sony effectively severed all ties with them, and Superbot will most likely dissolve in the process. This kills most chances of us ever seeing a sequel to this, and you know what? That sucks.
I wasn't looking forward to All-Stars, especially after I had the chance of playing it at a convention, and I too confused by it. Despite that, I wanted to root for it. I wanted it to do well so that Smash Bros may get a legitimate contender in its market. But it was not meant to be. What we have here is a wasted opportunity that could've been another great franchise for Sony, but will eventually end up forgetten.
RIP PLAYSTATION ALL-STARS FRANCHISE: 2012-2012