Mario, Pikachu, Link – Some of Nintendo’s most influential and successful characters that belong to some of the most popular video games in history! They’ve all starred in many sequels and prequels to their original video games but they as a group have also featured in one of the best fighting games around – Super Smash Brothers! Now you may be thinking, “What the hell is he talking about, this is a Sony website!”. That is indeed true but you cannot talk about Sony’s new smash hit beat em’ up without mentioning the granddaddy of exclusive property fighting games.
I went into this review with a negative. I had played the PS3 Beta and I didn’t like it one bit! There was no offline, no way to enjoy it with friends or at your own pace with AI, they just threw you straight into online mode with a basic tutorial at the beginning. Another thing I may want to mention is the fact that I thought it was going to be a complete rip-off of Super Smash Brothers. Boy was I wrong!
When you first boot it up on your lovely Playstation Vita, you will be greeted by a beautifully rendered cutscene showing all of the “Playstation All Stars”. Once its over, you will be notified with a message to try the tutorial but you can tough it out and say no. The menu is pretty standard – Solo Play, Tournament, Versus, Customise and Extras. Solo Play is broken down into Arcade, Tutorial, Trials and Practise. Arcade mode is basically story mode, meaning when you pick your fighter you will be shown a brief summary of their backstory. When you beat the main boss (a floating head) of Arcade mode you get to see their ending (just like Tekken or Street Fighter). It is pretty basic, just like any fighting game. With Tutorial and Practise mode, you can sharpen your skills and brush up on your attacks and combos, making it easier for anyone that is having trouble learn how to play. Trails on the other hand is completely different. It’s objective based and it rewards you with experience points that levels up the character you have selected. You can pick between general trials or character specific trials – each earning experience for said character.
Moving on to the online mode, Tournament mode gives you the ability to play ranked or unranked matches against anyone from around the world be it Playstation Vita or Playstation 3, thanks to Sony’s “Cross Play” feature (which is handy in its own right). Ranked mode has a leveling up system similar to karate (green, blue, black belts) which will give die hard players like myself plenty of replay value! Versus is essentially Ad Hoc and partying up with friends through wi-fi (however you can just have matches against the AI in wi-fi). The built in mic on the Vita is a wonder, it lets you trash talk even the mightiest of all players while you unleash your level three special!
Customise is the main hub for your player card and also gives you the ability to customise your characters. For example when you reach a certain level with Nathan Drake, you can unlock his alternative costume as well as new intros, outros (taunt when starting a fight and taunt when winning) and victory music. Goals is the default tab for trophies while in game, however it is also mixed with added objectives too (milestones for example – play one hundred matches). Extras only provides character bios as who in their right mind would want to watch the credits or read the terms and conditions!?
Now we can get down to the serious stuff – gameplay and graphics. The game handles very well on the Vita, it is far from a PS3 port! Graphically it is stunning, giving Uncharted Golden Abyss a run for its money. Theres no frame rate issues nor does it lag. Gameplay wise the game handles perfectly. The controls are easy to master as each button is mapped to an attack (circle, square and triangle). Each button combined with a direction (d-pad) gives the user a larger amount of attacks that they can unleash upon their opponent. As the player slowly builds momentum, there special attack bar fills. The special attack bar has three levels, each with a devastating attack that can wipe out your opponent if hit correctly. Level three is the special that wipes out all of your enemies, for example Heihachi attaching the number of opponents you’re against to a rocket and blasting them off into space! Environments also play heavily into the gameplay as you are never safe! In the God of War themed level, Hades is the man you have to watch. He comes down hard with his diabolical axes that deliver a powerful punch! Pick-ups (or weapons) also are a one to watch, they are a game changer! If someone manages to reach a thermal detonator, you are in trouble. Rockets will rain down on wherever the laser is pointed, giving the player with the pick-up the upper hand!
I can only say one negative thing about All Stars and that is that it lacks all stars! Dante and Big Daddy are buy ins by Capcom and Irrational Games. Cole takes not one but TWO character spots on the roster. I don’t know weather it was an issue with copyright but where is Crash Bandicoot, Gabe Logan, Spyro the Dragon, Solid Snake and all the other video game characters that have put Sony on the map!? I’m glad to say at least Parappa the Rapper, Sweet Tooth, Heihachi and Sir Daniel made the cut as well as Sly, Jak and Ratchet but they could have done more to include a better line up on the roster. Overall, I love this game! It makes me want to play my Vita, something that was lacking before for me but not now. The game is beautiful, plays well and has endless amounts of replay value. I’d recommend it to anyone that has a Vita. This in my mind is one of the best Vita titles this year!