In this serial Johan looks back on fallen game series that deserve a second life. Why does this particular series deserve to be resuscitated? What went wrong the first time? And how can we ensure that it will be a success this time?
It’s Wednesday, November 21, 2012. With your mouth open, you stare at the TV as the credits from the final episode of Season 2 of Game of Thrones roll across the screen. The White Walkers are coming! Now that the binge session is over, get up and head towards the center. Time to stock up on some food!
As you walk towards the supermarket, your eye catches the poster for the latest Bond film. “Skyfall”. Quantum of Solace was top-shelf , but maybe this one is worth a look. As you make your way to the cash register, hum along to the music popping out of your headset. Gangnam Style, you still don’t know what that crazy Korean is talking about, but it does sound good. You pay and go back home.
You put your key in the lock and open the door. When it is halfway through, you notice that something is being carried away – the postman has stopped by! Advertising, begging note, leaflets … Maybe order a “No / No” sticker. Hey, what’s this? Such a thick bubble envelope, there must be a game in it! You dig into your memory, but can’t remember what the hell you ordered. You tear open the envelope. Oh yes, of course! Totally forgotten.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (what a mouthful, shall we just say “All-Stars” from now on?) Is a fighting game, similar to Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series. With one to four players you can now ram each other’s brains with no less than 20 well-known and slightly less known PlayStation characters. Have you always wanted to play as Sackboy who slaps Kratos with his woolen fists? This is your chance! If Sweet Tooth being Nathan Drake let’s see who’s boss? This is the game for you! Sly Cooper, Ratchet & Clank, Jak and Daxter, Dante, Big Daddy, Cole MacGrath, there is something for everyone.
Then there are the stages. These are unique in the sense that each stage is based on two different worlds and they are quite interactive. For example, you have the “Hades” stage, which starts in the underworld where Hades from God of War attacks the players with his purple glowing hooks, but where after a few minutes the black and white soldiers of Patapon invade and spontaneously fill the playing field. start spamming with spears. If you wait long enough, these warriors will even crush Hades. And there are fourteen of these stages with the craziest combinations. LittleBigPlanet with Buzz, Jak and Daxter with Hot Shots Golf and Uncharted with Bioshock Infinite.
And although the game was actually pretty quickly drawn as a Super Smash Bros. clone, this fighter actually had a unique system. Players have no health or damage percentage – the only thing to sell an opponent a steed is to build up your “Super” meter. This is the only way to “KO” the opponent. Beat enough and the meter will slowly but surely fill up. Once it is full you can do a “Super” – a strong attack that can completely remove your opponents from the battlefield. These Supers also have different levels, from 1 to 3 – the higher the level, the more effective the attack.
Still a disappointment
Although the reactions to the first announcement of the game were still quite positive, there was a lot of criticism of the final product. Besides the fact that the game really had “PlayStation” in its name, there were quite a few multiplatform characters among them. Dante, Big Daddy, Heihachi and Raiden were all not PlayStation exclusive. In addition, there were also many characters who missed – Spyro, Crash, Snake … Why Raiden, but not Snake? Because Snake was already in Smash? Spyro and Crash are of course difficult with the current rights, but both series are originally PlayStation exclusive, so why didn’t Sony try a little harder to make sure we could play as these classic heroes?
They were also disappointed with the number of stages and items, especially when you compare this to Smash. Sixteen stages in All-Stars, compared to the more than 40 in Brawl. 20 items in All-Stars, but nearly three times as many in Nintendo’s showpiece. Quantity aside, there were also quite a few complaints about quality – players felt that the unique Super system didn’t work very well after all. You soon got the feeling that your hits had no direct impact, since all they were good for was building your Super. It happened often enough that no one was KOed the entire match, because it is still quite difficult to hit someone with such an attack. Where Smash solves this with a “Sudden Death” which allows you to bonjour your opponent off the platform with the slightest tap, with All-Stars only accumulating your Super meter is 2, 3 and then 4 times as fast. Not very exciting.
Then there was also quite a bit of commentary on the visual style – it was felt that the different artstyles collided a bit – the cartoony Ratchet & Clank, realistic Big Daddy and Cell Shaded Sly Cooper just didn’t look like a cohesive side by side whole. The last blunder was the release date – November 21st. In the middle of one of the busiest months of the year. This meant that the game had to compete with giants like Hitman: Absolution, Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault and Black Ops 2.
All in all, this meant that the game unfortunately did not sell very well and, according to Sony’s Worldwide Studios President Shuhei Yoshida, it had only sold a million times six months later. This was not enough for a sequel or more DLC. In February of 2013, Sony’s collaboration with developer SuperBot was ended. Although Yoshida had no faith in a sequel, he saw potential elsewhere …
PlayStation All-Stars – Island
Uhm … Yeah. I only found out about this myself while writing this feature, but apparently All-Stars has already had a spinoff. This mobile game in collaboration with … Coke Zero? Right. Anyway – this mobile game first came out on iOS and later on Android too. It is a compilation of mini games from various PlayStation franchises that you have also seen in All-Stars Battle Royale. There are Uncharted, inFamous and Gravity Rush minigames that play like a kind of Temple Run and a kart game from LittleBigPlanet. If you collect enough cola drops to fill a bottle while playing, you can click on them for a crossover minigame with Jak and Daxter or Ratchet & Clank among others.
A bizarre game, still available for free download on the Play Store. Although it is not a direct sequel, it was a sign of life for the franchise and it became clear that Sony was still open to cross-franchise games.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale 2
So, what can we do to make a potential Part 2 a success? First of all, we’ll need a different studio – SuperBot has started to downsize after its divorce from Sony and are now working on a new IP themselves, so that’s out of the question. The Vita port, on the other hand, was produced by Bluepoint games, which has also recently become more famous for the Shadow of the Colossus remaster for which they were responsible. After SotC, the Uncharted trilogy and also a Gravity Rush Remaster, I have the feeling that this studio has proven itself in such a way that they might just be able to build their own game. They can use the experience they have gained with the first part here.
One of the main things they can add to the game is a few more characters. Sony has recently started up enough new IPs to add a few nice ones. Horizon’s Aloy, The Hunter from Bloodborne, Delsin Rowe – that dude from inFamous Second Son, Joel and / or Ellie, Connor from Detroit, the new Kratos … Maybe Sony can give it a bit now and get Spyro and Crash loose at Activision. Hell, maybe they can even stuff Spider-Man into the game if they give Marvel a nice look. Throw in Knack for fun too.
Finally the gameplay – the idea behind the Supers is cool, but in my opinion just not very interesting in the moment-to-moment gameplay. Maybe it is an idea to add HP bars again and let the Supers only work when your opponent’s bar is empty, or instead of a KO, those Supers just take a big chunk of your HP.
The game is doomed anyway with Super Smash Bros. compared, so why not go all-in? Steal the entire percentage system and open the stages – knock your opponents off the map instead of lowering the HP bars. Anyway I think this is the right time for a new part – PlayStation in general is a lot more popular than when the first part came out and it doesn’t seem like that will change very soon with all the recent praise for God of War and Spider-Man and upcoming toppers such as The Last of Us Part II and Ghost of Tsushima.
What do you think?
Would you get a potential Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale 2? Why, or why not? And which game series would you like to give a second chance? Let me know in the comments!
All parts in the 1-Up serial:
Sunday, August 19:
Sunday September 16:
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
Sunday October 21:
Super Monkey Ball