PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal, once slated for release on October 23rd, has been delayed. The debut title from SuperBot Entertainment, which has drawn a measure of criticism for its whole-cloth appropriation of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. formula and sparked a vigorous debate about whether or not such appropriation makes a game inherently bad, will now arrive on store shelves November 20th — just days before Black Friday kicks the holiday shopping season into high gear.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal has been undergoing a closed beta (a public beta is due later this Fall, with PlayStation Plus subscribers guaranteed access), and the team at SuperBot is paying close attention to the feedback they’ve been receiving, though no specific player suggestions/concerns have been identified. SuperBot Entertainment President Chan Park announced the All-Stars Battle Royale delay, and discussed the reasons behind it, in a post on the PlayStation Blog.
“This will let us spend more time polishing and tuning the game, and it will give us a chance to incorporate some of the great feedback we’re receiving from the current limited beta to ensure we are creating the best possible fighting game experience. While it is our greatest desire to put this game into the hands of our fans as soon as possible, we do not want to do so at the sake of quality.”
While this news must come as a disappointment to those PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita owners who have been looking forward to All-Stars Battle Royale, SuperBot’s dedication to maximizing the quality of its game should be justification enough. As Shigeru Miyamoto famously opined, “A late game is only late until it ships. A bad game is bad until the end of time.”
We are absolutely not suggesting that, in its current state, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a bad game. That said, a quick internet search of impressions from the closed beta turns up a few consistent criticisms of the game — criticisms that we at Game Rant shared when we went hands-on with All-Stars Battle Royale at E3 2012. Specifically, three issues stand out: the scoring system, the inability to knock characters out of an arena, and the exclusive reliance on Super moves to KO opponents. Additionally, lag is frequently cited as a problem. The question is, are these issues that can be adequately addressed before the game releases in November?
I’d wager that the first problem is the easiest to solve. The trouble with the game’s scoring system is that players never know how they’re doing until the match ends. As detailed in our first All-Stars Battle Royale preview, the only HUD element for each player is a bar that tracks how much special attack energy they’ve built up — there is no way to tell which players are winning and which are losing, sapping much of the excitement from a match’s final moments. Really, any onscreen indication of who’s ahead and who’s behind at a given time would make this a non-issue.
The other problems (lag aside, which I have to believe can be remedied) may be more difficult to address, as they go right to the heart of All-Stars Battle Royale’s design — particularly at this stage of development, the game’s mechanics are what they are. Objections to the game’s arena design and focus on Super moves boil down to an unexpected conclusion: that, for some players, All-Stars Battle Royale doesn’t follow the Super Smash Bros. blueprint closely enough.
In fairness to the team at SuperBot, gamers shouldn’t expect All-Stars Battle Royale to play exactly the same as Super Smash Bros., no matter how much the former game is inspired by the latter. But — and this is where things get tricky — by basing its game largely on the Smash Bros. formula, SuperBot can not help but raise specific expectations in players. The Super Smash Bros. games are hugely popular, with a large and dedicated audience. As such, deviations from the Smash Bros. formula in All-Stars Battle Royale may well be regarded as inadequacies by players.
Frankly, I’m unconcerned with the technical shortcomings (HUD, lag) that currently affect the game — there is simply no reason to think that they can’t be hammered out ahead of launch. Tuning PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale’s mechanics so they are as satisfying and exciting as those in Super Smash Bros. — no matter how different the two games ultimately are — is undeniably the more difficult task. That SuperBot (and Sony) is willing to delay the game’s launch to incorporate player feedback and continue polishing All-Stars Battle Royale is an encouraging sign, but no guarantee of success. Will SuperBot be able to deliver? What do you think?
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale releases November 20, 2012, for PS3.
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