The comparison was always inevitable. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale brings together key characters from PlayStation franchises and pits them against each other in a battle arena. Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series does the same thing but with Nintendo characters. Superbot, the developers behind All-Stars, is well aware of these comparisons. According to the game's director, Omar Kendall, this is exactly where the similarities end.
Kendall, who has worked on fighting games like the UFC series, says the similarities between the two games are superficial and the differences lie in the core gameplay mechanics.
"The biggest difference is Super Smash Bros. is a game about knocking people off a level, and we don't really have that," Kendall tells Polygon. "At the heart of PlayStation All-Stars is the Super System. So we don't have a health bar or anything like that. You're fighting to accumulate energy, this All-Star power, and this energy fuels your Super attacks.
"Each character has three different supers and they get progressively stronger and it allows them to be more effective with kills," he says.
Kendall likens PlayStation All-Stars to an American football match. Where football players move the ball back and forth down the field to try and get it closer to their goal, in All-Stars players are fighting to get energy, and once they have accumulated enough energy they use it to perform Super attacks, which is similar to an attempt at scoring a goal. A Super attack might land a player a kill, but it might not. There is no guarantee in the same way that scoring a goal isn't guaranteed.
As chaotic as the action on the screen may be, Kendall says that chaos is only one part of All-Stars. The game is designed to be a fun, social experience, but it was also designed from the ground up to be a fighting game, even if it doesn't play like traditional games of the genre like Street Fighter and Tekken.
"We realized really early on that we weren't going to recreate a Tekken or a Street Fighter – we wanted to make a party-style game with four players on the same screen, four players playing on the same couch together. That was one of the foundational pillars of the concept," Kendall says.
"But while a lot of the decisions were made with the casual gamer in mind, I think the underlying foundational elements of PlayStation All-Stars are fairly traditional."
SuperBot's development team consists of fighting game players and non-fighting game players. Some of the developers have little experience with the genre while others have competed at global tournaments like EVO – the unofficial Olympics for fighting games. As such, the team knew they wanted to make a game that would be accessible to those who weren't familiar with the genre, but they also included something for players who are well-versed in fighting games. In the former, the controls were designed with the casual gamer in mind; in the latter, the design of the game itself allows room for more hardcore players to get competitive.
"So normally when you try to introduce someone to a fighting game, you sit down and say OK, here's how you do a fireball and here's how you do a Dragon Punch, but that's not really what playing a fighting game is about," Kendall says. "There's this strategy and this mind game, a kind of head-to-head meeting of a battle of wit that takes place once you've figured out how to do the different move commands.
"I think that strategic layer is very consistent with traditional fightings game."
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is due out on PlayStation 3 and PS Vita on November 20th in North America, November 21st in Europe, November 22nd in Australia, and November 23rd in the UK.