The funny thing about rumors on the internet is that sometimes they’re totally, completely true. Earlier this week we got a chance to go hands-on with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, the Super Smash Bros.-inspired brawler from Superbot Studios and Sony Santa Monica. 

Six characters and four different stages were on display, showing off a tiny sampler of the full game. We were able to wield the Blades of Chaos as Kratos, who fought using his signature weapons as well as other mythical gear he amassed throughout the series; Fat Princess, who threw soldiers at her enemies; Sly Cooper, who eschews the ability to block in favor of invisibility; Parappa the Rapper, who uses kung-fu to launch barrages of melee attacks; Radec, who has access to a number of ranged weapons for precision strikes; and Sweet Tooth, who uses chainsaws, shotguns, mines, and other weapons to slaughter his foes. 

Above: Check out our PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale video preview 

It controlled well, and each character played completely differently, instantly propelling PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale ahead of other Super Smash Bros. clones like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Cartoon Network brawlers to come out in years past. Radec’s ranged attacks made him ideal for hiding across the map and firing, whereas Kratos played exactly as Kratos should. The oddballs – Fat Princess and Parappa – both felt adequately weird, and we’re sure they’ll find fans in those interested in unique characters.

The stages, too, were both conceptually and visually impressive. Superbot didn’t stop at making themed levels for each PlayStation IP – it decided to treat even the arenas as mash-ups, with every arena being a mix of two different Sony brands. The Little Big Planet level, for instance, is interrupted at the half-way point by Buzz, who asks a trivia question and throws pies at everyone who gets it wrong. The Hades level looks like it was ripped straight out of God of War… until Patapons show up and start throwing spears at the level. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is fan service done as well as we’ve ever seen.

But as we played we noticed something was off. We’d enjoy beating each other senseless, but it didn’t seem to have any effect. There wasn’t a health bar, and there was no way to knock someone out of the stage. Eventually, we realized that there was only one way to score points: Super Attacks. 

As we brawled, a bar at the bottom of the screen filled up. This “Super Meter” had three levels, each giving us access to a more powerful Super Attack – a game-changing super-move that’s a one-shot kill for anyone caught within its range. Each level of Super Attack essentially represents how many kills it should earn the player, though it’s possible to score more than the expected number with proper use. 

Since there’s no health bar or ring-out, the only way to score was to use our Super Attack on our enemies, which actually felt like it created a large imbalance. Some characters we played as had incredibly powerful low-level Super Attacks, which made it easy to take out two or three fighters whenever it was up, while others were so hard to use that it was often difficult to even score on one enemy. 

Kratos’s level one attack is a powerful dash that obliterates anyone he contacts with his blade, and his level two has him stabbing that very same sword into the ground and creating a whirlwind. Merely touching it means a death. Meanwhile, Sweet Tooth’s first-level ability requires him to be within range of a grab. Radec? His ability is almost useless within melee range.

There’s a chance this mechanic might grow on us, but as of now this element is sort of a wall that we don’t see ourselves being able to get past. No matter how fun the combat is before a player unleashes a Super attack, the existence of easily accessible instant-kills that differ from character-to-character creates an imbalance – plain and simple. The existence of this isn’t actually a game breaker, but having it be literally the only way to score points seems like a bad call from where we’re sitting. 

We’re hoping we’re wrong, or that the developer plans on tightening it up before release, but as of now we’re not expecting the game to be played at any competitive level – or even by any big fans of others games in the genre. Even if it remains as is, however, we’re sure that plenty of people will enjoy it for silly, fun times – we just have hopes that it can rise above that when it releases later this year. We're also hoping for a Vita version. Like, seriously, how awesome would that be?

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  • andy-domonkos - April 29, 2012 5:21 a.m.

    Grr, had to sit through a guilt trip about smoking to watch this. What a downer, hate these "social ambushes" paid for by god-only-knows. (game looks cool btw)
  • LOLZ - April 27, 2012 7:54 p.m.

  • IceBlueKirby - April 27, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    This looks like it might be fun, although I'm not entirely sold on the super meter concept either. Still, it's too early to assume that they don't have other modes planned, like maybe a mode where you actually have a health bar, or something like the SSB coin battles or whatever. Even if it does go to retail with absolutely no other method of scoring, I'll still check it out. I love SSBB, but every now and then I want to play something LIKE it, but different...TMNT: Smash Up doesn't have enough characters and Cartoon Network Punch Time is really...wonky, so I'm thinking neither of those will be a problem with a game like this.
  • Fuzunga - April 27, 2012 1:33 p.m.

    So standard attacks do nothing but build super meter? There's no other reason to attack your foes? And stronger attacks build more meter? Yeah, this game sounds super broken.
  • GR HollanderCooper - April 27, 2012 1:47 p.m.

    Everything builds up your meter, and you can sometimes knock your opponent's meter down (with items only, I believe).
  • archnite - April 28, 2012 6:59 p.m.

    What other reason would there need to be when those supers are the kill? It sounds a little like that fighter where you could be fatally wounded if you didn't block correctly.
  • bazookatooth17 - April 27, 2012 10:58 a.m.

    Since they already put snake in brawl I hope they put MGS 2 Raiden in here so my friends have to least to his whiny ass while I beat them down with his ninja blade #totaltrollmove
  • Moondoggie1157 - April 27, 2012 10:01 a.m.

    It was almost as if I was listening to Talkradar... Almost... I was never really a fan of Super Smash Bros, but I know a few of my buddies will get it, so I'll have to get good at it :P That works out perfect for me though, all I need is that tiny dose once in a while.
  • oryanbelt - April 27, 2012 8:30 a.m.

    inb4 I see Lightning from FF13 and rage from the lack of Sazh >_>
  • ObliqueZombie - April 27, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    It's a shame this will be a PS3-only release (which is stupidly obvious), because Super Smash Bros. is my favorite--and only favored--fighting game. In fact, it's one of my favorite games EVER! I could dig a blatant rip-off.
  • ultimatepunchrod - April 27, 2012 7:52 a.m.

    Super attacks do sound a little out of balance, but overall it seems like it would be fun. It's pretty blatant about its smash bros inspiration though. The God of War level hasme sold and the environments look really cool.
  • ultimatepunchrod - April 27, 2012 10:32 a.m.

    Also, does Chris Antista work for gamesradar again, or is he just helping with videos? Either way, great job. Oh, and I saw Coop on the PSblog's video for the game.
  • santaclouse37 - April 28, 2012 11:02 a.m.

    I don't know, but my ears creamed their ear-pants when his silky voice came out of my speakers upon clicking the video.
  • BladedFalcon - April 27, 2012 7:16 a.m.

    Did not expect this to be such a shameless Smash Bros Rip-off. But hey, at least the stages, characters and gameplay look solid... EXCEPT for that stupid super meter system. I mean, really? It's supposed to be a FIGHTING game! If I beat the shit out of my opponent, I want to see an effect ON the opponent. I mean, that's actually one of the coolest aspects of the entire smash bros system: The more you bang up the opponent, the more fragile they become until even a fart can send them flying away. I mean, it's even worse that it appears to be unbalanced, but even if it wasn't, what kind of shitty system is that? It's a shame because like I said, the rest of the concept seems really solid. But unless they remove, or change that stupid super meter system. I'm probably not gonna get this game.
  • GR HollanderCooper - April 27, 2012 1:48 p.m.

    I don't get it :( I wish it wasn't like that.
  • ncurry2 - April 27, 2012 6:16 a.m.

    Well Greg Miller must not be up yet (thankfully.) But after reading that the only way to score is the build up a meter thing, I'm a bit skeptical now as well. I suppose it's good that they tried to do something to differentiate themselves but if you only have 1 move (that can be built up 3 times but still, 1 move) to earn you points... that's not exactly the evolution I'd hope for. Idk, maybe I'm just angry at Sony for not trying to do something new with the mashup idea. Maybe I'm still just pissed about how the PS Move ended up being identical to a Wii mote. Or maybe I'm just not nearly as connected to franchises like Fat Princess and PaRappa as I am to Mario and Zelda. Whatever it is, I just don't find myself remotely interested in this title.
  • ncurry2 - April 27, 2012 5:57 a.m.

    I thought this was fake at first. I can' wait to head over to IGN and read how Greg Miller undoubtedly thinks this is the greatest thing of all time and how he can't believe how progressive Sony is. Damn it I hate Greg Miller.
  • rtype21 - April 27, 2012 5:06 a.m.

    Would be nice if it is released for vita as well.
  • KA87 - April 27, 2012 4:58 a.m.

    Called Radec. Judging from the pic of him Jak and Dexter are in there to. Looks like fun. Hope to see Nemisis, Leon, or a Zombie in there to. Have a nice day!!!!
  • GR HollanderCooper - April 27, 2012 1:49 p.m.

    Nemesis would be tiiiiiiiiiiiight.

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