On April 27 2012, PlayStation All-Stars was officially announced and shown to the world on an episode of GTTV. It was an impressive unveiling as we were introduced to the now-defunct studio SuperBot Entertainment who had been working on the game for a little over three years at the time. Excitement for the cross-over fighting game was at an all-time high as we got to see fan favorites like Kratos and Fat Princes duke it out in highly-imaginable maps that blended different game worlds. Who didn’t love fighting Sweet Tooth and Sackboy while Hades got destroyed by Patapon minions in the background? All-Stars released on November 20th, 2012 in North America for PS3 and PS Vita. All-Stars sold a paltry 11,758 in its first week on PS3.
The game was often ridiculed for looking like a Super Smash Brothers clone but the guys over at SuperBot tried something different with the combat and it kind of succeeded more or less. Instead of knocking opponents off the map to gain kills like in Smash, All-Stars employed a three-tier special attack system which served as the only way to get kills. There was no health system so you basically had to beat your opponents to a pulp in order to gain these energy bubbles that filled your special attack gauge. It can get pretty strategic as number 1 specials were quick and had a short window of attack while number 3s were almost automatic kills with highly exaggerated finishers. How exaggerating? Heihachi’s number 3 has him strapping all the players, involuntarily by the way, on a spaceship to death as he watches and sneers from below. Instant kill and unavoidable.
With over-the-top finishers like that, balancing is the most important aspect that can make or break a game like this. Playstation All-Stars is kind of bi-polar when it comes to balancing. Some characters play very well and balanced like Nariko or Zeus while others like Raiden and Dante seem vastly overpowered with endless, unforgiving combos that never really give you a chance to defend against. The maps were very intricately designed as it wove different game worlds together along with their respective soundtracks. A favorite of mine is the mash-up world between Uncharted and Bioshock Infinite which starts you off on a plane that gets destroyed by Songbird as you’re fighting helplessly on what’s left of the flailing plane. But not all maps were this good. Maps like Jak and Daxter/HotShots Golf and Infamous were an absolute disaster to play and not fun at all. Much of the fun-draining came from the over-the-top hazardous effects of the maps themselves that caused you to lose precious energy bubbles. Not cool. Next time scale it down a bit.
PlayStation All-Stars gained a cult following after release and many dedicated players still engage in battle today. It’s a very functional fighter that truly captures the spirit of Sony’s mascots but the overall product felt rushed and low-rent. From the bland menu design to the lack of interesting game modes, it was as bare bones as you could possibly get in a fighter like this. But there was promise. This is a game that could greatly benefit from a proper sequel. But is Sony willing to invest in a do-over project like this? There has been no official word on a potential sequel but Sony has to believe in this property and its potential for widespread success. Smash Brothers is great but it can’t hold a monopoly over cross-over fighting games; Sony also has a robust roster of iconic characters so it should be able to co-exist with Nintendo’s. For Playstation All-Stars 2 to succeed, Sony has to make a couple of changes that will dramatically increase the replayability factor and its overall fun factor.
- Adopt Smash Brother’s KO system but still offer All-Stars three-tier special system as a separate game mode for those that want the “Classic” feel.
- Animate the story cutscenes, seriously.
- Add more game modes, i.e. Capture the flag, King of the Hill, and other fun modes
- Do away with all auto-kill specials. Some of them don’t make any sense like the previously mentioned Heihachi’s number 3
- Scale down the complexity and hazardousness of the maps. Don’t over-do them, in All-Stars many of them were distracting and unnecessarily affecting the battles.
- I know Crash Bandicoot is owned by Activison now but this guy has to be in the next game, I don’t care how you do it.
This is a great opportunity for Sony. The PS4 is selling like gangbusters and third-party support is approaching PS2 standards, this is the time to do it. With the power of the PS4, we can expect a major upgrade in graphics and roster size. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Sony is even half interested in the project as we’ve not heard anything yet regarding a new All-Stars iteration. Maybe Sony doesn’t think it’s worth it? What do you think? Will we ever see Playstation All-Stars 2 and what kind of changes would you make? Sound off.