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Sequel Scheming: Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale
With the rumors of a sequel for PlayStation All Stars: Battle Royale circulating around E3 having been crushed, some fans might be disappointed. It got me thinking though; how would they go about a sequel for the game? The game itself ended up only having mixed reviews, so maybe Sony would go in ways we may not expect, considering Shuhei Yoshida said in an interview after the 2013 E3 that they would consider a sequel but “not with the same mechanic.” A lot of this stuff is just common sense, but its good to have a framework.
First we’d have to look at what a lot of people griped about. Figure out what the problems are, and then you can figure the answer. The roster was a complaint many people put forward, more specifically that some characters didn’t really fit being in a fighting game. Apparently many people found it to be an odd experience to see Nathan Drake fighting against the likes of Kratos. We understand why they made it in, since their names themselves brought something to the table when it came to their market appeal, but the issue with that is that a lot of unused characters and titles could have gotten some love as opposed to just dumping every single character who had a name and was in a PS3 game (Radec comes to mind,) although they do get points for giving us Sir Daniel and Parappa. This bled into character gameplay as well, since some of the characters didn’t really feel all that unique when you got down to it and several characters felt a bit similar to each other as well. Characters a lot of the time felt like they really had one schtick like “I use guns” or “I murder you while building a billion meter,” and the variety just didn’t feel like it was there enough to breathe life to the roster outside of a select few characters and that made the game not quite as interesting.
The next issue a lot of people had with Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was the fact that the only way to actually kill enemies was with super attacks. Combat itself in the game was just fine; you’d beat your opponent into the dirt to build up your meter (which also caused them to lose meter), and after you reached level one on your meter you could unleash your basic super attack. Some super attacks were combo-able, some had utility, and some were just bad when it came to these super moves, but the problem was that if you missed, then that was it. No more super meter until you refilled it again and all that time you just spent building up meter hoping to rack up a couple of kills? Wasted. I’m all for an all or nothing mentality, but a lot of the time when I did play the game I felt more worried about missing with the attack than being excited about being able to use the attack (besides the RYNO with Ratchet.) Some other means of having players die wouldn’t be amiss. Hell, some of the time we can’t even die by falling off the stage, it just spawns us back at the time and takes a chunk of our super meter away. It’s not conducive to a good time when the only way to actually score is based around your super meter and the game at times feels entirely based around the super meter.
Variety and more balance would be a good call if they want to improve the base formula with these super attacks. I’m not saying they need to change the idea of super attacks and the level system with it, since that’s what makes the game unique, but general balancing would also be a good call, as certain super attacks were rather poorly designed and were nigh unusable. Change the way a lot of the attacks work and give them some unique properties instead of just “attack that hits in front of you’ or “attack that hits above you with a really tiny hit box.” Certain characters were much better off just using their level 1 super than trying to build up to level 3. The other end of the spectrum was certain characters were absolutely monstrous when it came to meter, and their level 3 supers were so monstrous it could easily result in four or five kills if somebody was playing with three other people.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale had some good mechanics that should be kept around if a sequel ever is to be made. How it handled stages was definitely unique and deserves a mention Unlike other fighters, where stages are static things and part of the background, in Playstation All-Stars the stages constantly changed. For example, Kratos’ stage where Hades rampages in the background is a nice base to start with, but then the Patapon invade and it all becomes a bit silly as they assert dominance. It’s things like this that gave Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale some of its character, when its not trying to impress us by being all “Hey look at us! We’re the Sony equivalent of Smash Bros, but were different” and just stops trying to take itself seriously. When a game pokes fun at itself, I find its a lot harder to hate it. Additionally, the cross platform they had going with the Vita was also a good call, and definitely is something to keep around as any cross platform gaming should be endorsed in my opinion.
Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale was a fine game to be honest, but it got bogged down by the fact it spent too much time trying to be different from Smash and other games that it ended up forgetting what it wanted to do a lot of the time. How do you fix some of these complaints then? People complained about characters, so throw them a bone or two with more niche favorites. Complaints were made about supers being unbalanced or the only way to score effectively, so apply balance changes (which they have already) and allow players to kill their opponents by knocking them off stages or down below for all stages instead of just meter penalties. Lastly, it needs to not take itself so seriously; its a party game meant to be played with your friends. Its not going to be the next coming of Street Fighter, and its not going to be up on the main stage at EVO, so it should focus more on being fun than anything else.