Sony PlayStation Canada is currently holding a two-day Spring Showcase preview of upcoming PlayStation 3 and Vita games. On the first day of the event (yesterday) was an early build of the recently announced PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s wildly popular Smash Bros. games.

Like Nintendo’s version which features a variety of Nintendo’s first-party characters, ranging from Mario and Luigi to Pikachu and Star Fox, Sony’s clone of the game includes Kratos (God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal) and many others. We had a chance to get hands-on with the game, so read on for our thoughts.

We’ll focus on gameplay since the build we saw only had the six previously confirmed characters with no hints at who the others could be. We were told however, that at a variety of events throughout the year Sony will be pouring out frequent bits of information.

“All-Stars” confirmed:

The build Sony had demo’d featured mock-up temporary menus, level selectors and player selection screens. There were four maps but we could only play on one, and of the six available characters, we could only choose Sly, Radec, Sweet Tooth and PaRappa – no Kratos or Fat Princess.

Each character is quite different in gameplay style. Sweet Tooth wields a shotgun and powerful, yet slower melee attacks which push enemies away, whereas Sly can dart around quick dealing energy and aerial attacks. For all characters, combat and gameplay is super smooth and seemingly polished.

PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale GTTV

On the surface, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale looks awfully similar to Super Smash Bros. and that’s because it is. The way the characters move, the controls, the ability to double jump and block – it’s all identical to Smash Bros, even down to the platformer level designs.

It’s a replica but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, because it’s actually quite fun and if you do like the Smash Bros. style of gameplay, then Sony’s offering more of that, just with their own more adult-focused character roster.

The controls are simple: Press ‘X’ to jump and use Square, Triangle and Circle for the three attacks. Using the attacks in conjunction with the left analog stick to augment the attacks which brings the amount of attacks for each character up to 24. R1 lets the player pick up weapons and we tried this with a 3-shot RPG launcher and a double-bladed staff.

From the announcement trailer, many thought one of the differences between All-Stars Battle Royale and the Smash Bros. titles is the inclusion of a health bar that counts down for each character. That’s not the case here as the bar under each player’s avatar icon is actually a meter for special attacks. Players can’t be knocked off of maps, so specials are required to rack up kills. Once the bar is full, from beating the crap out of opponents, players can press ‘R2’ to unleash their special. For Sweet Tooth, he transforms into the massive Mecha Sweet Tooth (shown below) and can walk around shooting for a short period of time. For others, we saw a super powerful directed blast and an area of effect shot which rained down what looked like laser blasts.

The producer of the game on hand was understandably guarded about revealing any information, but we got the impression that they’re holding back a lot more than just maps and characters, but features that will differentiate it from the Smash Bros. games.

The game supports 4-player local play and will likely support online play as well, but that remains unannounced. All-Stars will be a key item showcased as part of Sony’s E3 presentations this year and we expect to learn a lot more about the title in the coming weeks.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royal releases this holiday season for the PlayStation 3.

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