Call it a clone or a knockoff but Sony might be onto something here. The Playstation at this point is roughly a 18 year old brand with its own rich history at this point. There have been Smash Brothers clones since the N64 debut but none have felt right despite appearances. Some have been memorable like Dream TV having a car being a fighter but the balance has never been matched. Enter Sony’s Superbot Entertainment which is a split from Santa Monica, the studio that churns out God of War.
It is safe to say that this game gets it right despite the fans cry of the roster not being their dream roster. Yes it is true Crash, Spyro, Lara Croft, and Cloud Strife are the obvious characters missing from this lineup that Sony didn’t pursue. Evil Cole makes no sense to be his own character and the inclusion of Big Daddy is just an ad campaign for Bioshock Infinite. The roster though works and the game’s style makes this an incredibly balanced affair. It isn’t perfect but its far better than anyone expected.
Instead of having a damage meter like Smash Brothers, characters can only be killed by Super Moves. I’m not talking about a fireball Mario would throw out but a super level system that has three building levels of final smash like attacks. Level 3 supers take a while to build and like the level 1 & 2’s some just aren’t worth the time to build up. Kratos’ isn’t worth building to his level 3 in a bigger level as you need to manually vaporize your opponents. I found out quickly that level 3 supers don’t really matter in 1 VS 1 battles either. Too much building for a single kill.
What feels like a throwback to the very first Smash Brothers is how almost every character’s attacks are ripped from their games. This not being limited to special moves but every single attack. This also means that characters can look awkward if you were to just watch, but they feel great. Kratos feels like he was ripped from God of War and remodeled for a 2D plane, as does Drake which is a little strange to imagine. Moves are quite believably strange with Nathan Drake falling through floors as an attack, or Spike whipping out his Ape radar to summon a big white Ape.
The way you unlock items is by completing different challenges or winning matches. This earns you exp and yes you actually level up characters. I actually like this unlock scheme, it gives me something to work for with each individual character instead of the smash brothers path where you won’t need to seriously play with every character unless you hunt trophies. A big gripe for me is that Superbot couldn’t even provide four costumes per character. There are hundreds of player icons to unlock, four victory and taunting animations to unlock, but only a single costume to unlock? It’s hard for me to believe that they couldn’t think of four costumes for Kratos. A small disappointment Superbot didn’t have collectible trophies or a collectible history focusing on Sony characters not included.
The online works. No really, it actually does work. You’ll meet a ton of Kratos and Sackboys but the online is quite fun and functional. The game includes a trials mode like Street Fighter IV, but also contains these strange challenges where you can only use Triangle attacks or matches where only Level 2 supers work. It isn’t hard but it just a little strange. You also unlock Minions which serve as cheerleaders that pop up from the bottom of the screen when you get a triple kill. That is their only purpose. Seriously.
The roster is fine. No it isn’t anyone’s dream scenario of characters but these characters work and represent a large chunk of Playstation history, except Big Daddy but man is he menacing to make up for it. Each character is built to reflect their old appearances and nothing seems like a betrayal. The online is solid, the offline will keep you busy, and you’ll love mastering the different characters. Congratulations Sony and Superbot, you did make a Smash Brothers clone but like Naughty Dog’s Mario Kart clone Crash Team Racing, this is a game that can stand on its own.
- Extremely balanced roster
- Although the storied intro and outros are on the weak side, the fight your rival stage cutscenes are amazing.
- Both PS3 and Vita versions are excellent, almost identical!
- The final boss is rather unexplained
- Sly Cooper has no block and instead goes invisible which is unfortunate
- Only two costumes per character is not acceptable