The existence of a mascot mash-up featuring characters from the PlayStation universe was always going to be controversial. Let's not be coy about it: this is a concept that Nintendo's already perfected across numerous iterations of the Super Smash Bros. series. Add to that the simple fact that characters such as Sweet Tooth and Colonel Radec don’t carry quite the same cachet as Mario and Link, and there’s no doubt that SuperBot Entertainment’s massive new PS3 exclusive has a long list of difficulties to overcome.
But based on our very first look at the party brawler earlier today, the newly formed studio has stepped up to the challenge well. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale may be unequivocally inspired by Nintendo’s big name brawler, but through its own adoration of PlayStation heritage it's managed to find a personality all of its own.
No other element of Battle Royale underlines that better than the LittleBigPlanet stage. The environment's constructed around you as you brawl on top of platforms made of sponge and cardboard. In the background, a Pop-It cycles through different themes, before ultimately settling on a layout based upon Relentless Software’s Buzz! series. As the fight progresses, the quiz title’s puppet-jawed host relays questions about PlayStation history, giving you an advantage in the fight should you answer correctly.
It’s this kind of respect for PlayStation’s defining moments that makes Battle Royale such a tantalising prospect. And the madness doesn’t end with the integration of trivia either. Colonel Radec’s special move sees him adopt the Killzone franchise’s traditional first-person perspective, allowing you to rain bullets from outside of the arena. Similarly, collectable weapons (which drop onto the stage as the fight progresses) include memorable items such as the hedgehog grenade from the Resistance series.
There’s really clever interaction between some of PlayStation’s most disparate brands too. The God of War stage – which of course sees you duking it out in the underworld – shows the gigantic titan Hades fighting against pesky Patapon in the background. Similarly, the arena based upon Jak & Daxter’s homeworld inexplicably adds Hot Shots Golf characters into the fray, who proceed to fire flaming golf balls into the air which you must avoid.
And this is just a small sample of the kind of crazy action the full title will entail. SuperBot Entertainment is promising the inclusion of some third-party characters, in addition to a complete single-player campaign. The final boss character has to be Ken Kutaragi, right? Or perhaps even Kaz Hirai?
What’s most exciting is that anything’s possible right now. SuperBot Entertainment’s proved that it’s willing to dip all the way into PlayStation lore with Battle Royale – the mere inclusion of PaRappa the Rapper as a playable character proves as much.
With over 20 different environments and a huge roster of characters rumoured, the months leading up to Battle Royale’s late 2012 release are going to be a markedly exciting time for PlayStation fans. We can’t wait to see what else SuperBot Entertainment has in store for us.