Posted by: Chris | April 30, 2012

Warning: Challenger Approaching

In our inaugural post, I noted that the few Super Smash Brothers clones out there seem to overtly miss the keys to why the original franchise is so successful.  Strangely, no like games have been produced with either SSB’s damage system (with percentages indicating how far hits throw players) or its simple control scheme universal across characters, both of which are what make the franchise stand out.

Instead, the wannabe copycats all seemed to think that the essense of Super Smash Brothers is frenetic action and four-player capabilities (which are in truth mildly detrimental and beneficial but nonessential, respectively).  Thus, they go overboard on the onscreen mania (IGN called Capcom’s outing “impossible to follow”), but retain the traditional lifebars and D-pad chewing control schemes.  The end result is too overwhelming for newcomers to grasp but too shallow to sustain any real following, and they all faceplant in sales.

Well, Sony has decided it has accumulated a sufficiently deep bench to attempt a mascot brawler of its own, and the results are maddeningly the same.  The game, which is actually called Playstation All-Star Battle Royal (maybe its being ironic?), looks identical to all of the previous pretenders to the crown.  The backgrounds are busy with clutter and incredibly intrusive into the gameplay.  Weapons and character moves are likewise showy and distracting.  However, despite glimpsing a brief combo, there is no launching system and damage is accumulated onto a lifebar, with players poofing out once they have accumulated enough hits.  I imagine the control scheme is similarly akin to traditional fighters.  The game does have the support of a major publisher, which might augur well for sales, but even fanboys can recognize a flop.  Oh well.

Some day, someone must realize the potential that exists for even a competent Smash Brothers clone.  To reiterate my original almost two-year-old conclusion:

The saddest part of this whole thing is that the Smash Brothers series as a whole is incredibly poorly executed. The games are glitchy, poorly balanced, and wracked with incredibly unoriginal character designs. They all basically trade on the uniqueness of their scheme and pure Nintendo nostalgia to get the sales they do. A well-made straight-up clone would probably sell incredibly well, even without a strong license, largely due to the miserable quality of the competition. Yet no one has ever tried, contenting themselves to failed four-player frenzy fests that completely miss the point.

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