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Will Battle Royale Bring Unity to the PlayStation Universe?

October 15, 2012 Written by Jesse Meikle

There’s been a lot of talk about whether PlayStation’s cast of characters are iconic, or recognizable enough to carry a party brawler like PlayStation All-Stars, and this touchy topic has been largely pushed due to the widespread belief that Nintendo, in contrast to PlayStation, has an arsenal of creative, nostalgic, and identifiable mascots. With all 20 PlayStation All-Stars revealed, why don’t we take an objective look at Super Smash Bros, and what Battle Royale can do for PlayStation as a whole.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale‘s on-disc roster probably isn’t going to beat Nintendo in terms of quantity anytime soon with just 20 characters compared to Smash Bros Brawl‘s 35, and at first thought this re-affirms the general consensus that Nintendo does indeed have a larger arsenal of established franchises, and mascots. But things aren’t that simple.

The image above is visually coded to properly convey the general lack of diversity, of the Smash Brothers cast; each color denotes a single franchise (PlayStation All-Stars in contrast is sticking to one main character per franchise, rather than using sidekick/support characters)

When we look past diversity, and towards star-power (the area where Nintendo’s brawler is supposedly unprecedented) the cast starts to look lacking in certain areas. Characters like: Pit, Olimar, Captain Falcon, Ness/Lucas, Marth/Ike, and the Ice-Climbers are generally unknown characters in the public’s eye, with the exception of their Smash Bros appearances.

This article may seem like a stab at Nintendo but the point here isn’t to crucify Nintendo for throwing no-name characters like Ness, Pit, and the Ice-Climbers into Smash Brothers. No, I’d much rather celebrate these wonderful nobodies.Let’s jump back in time to just before Super Smash Bros released in 1999, in the rocking late 90s Nintendo was known for Mario, Link, Samus, Pikachu, Kirby and maybe Fox, but after Smash Bros released Nintendo turned Ness, Captain Falcon and Fox into staples that are inseparable from the Nintendo brand at this point. They then continued this incredible feat in Smash Bros Melee by converting the Ice-Climbers, along with Marth and Roy into customary combatants. Smash Bros Brawl added Olimar, and Pit to the list of proud Nintendo quint-essentials.

Super Smash Bros is Nintendo’s miraculous ‘mascot machine’ – they throw a character in there (even someone like Pit, Ness, or the Ice-Climbers who previously only had generally unknown retro games to their names) then poof! out comes your established character ready to be used in a long time series reboot, a retro re-release, or just moral support for Mario when he’s feeling down about having to play every sport imaginable, with a mushroom stuffed potbelly.

All of this repeated Nintendo chat might be a little drawn out by now, but the purpose is completely self-serving from a PlayStation fan’s perspective, this same ‘mascot machine’ could very well be utilized for PlayStation, which is something Sony almost desperately needs, since the average gaming consumer doesn’t usually draw a distinct image of PlayStation in their minds like they do of Nintendo.

But now Sony has their own branded brawler which if executed correctly could end up turning PlayStation’s heroes into a force that are every bit as recognizable, and iconic as Nintendo’s beloved characters.

So what does PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale need in order to become a Sony owned ‘mascot-machine’?

Big name mostly exclusive roster:

Uneducated gamers playing PlayStation All-Stars are going to immediately begin associating the characters in Battle Royale with PlayStation (as long as they aren’t obvious 3rd party characters like Big Daddy) and what Sony needs to do is bring out all the big name franchises throughout their history, up until today that have been extremely profitable for Sony, or an exclusive 3rd party system seller: Kratos, Nathan Drake, Sackboy, Ratchet/Clank and Sweet Tooth so that all the lesser known characters like PaRappa, and Spike are validated by the true All-Stars they’re going blow for blow with. As long as the roster is mostly comprised of exclusive characters along with guests strongly associated with the PlayStation brand (which it currently is) then PlayStation All-Stars has the advantage of tricking casual gamers into thinking every contender in Battle Royale is an exclusive PlayStation character. Sneaky, yes, but Sony, and Microsoft have been fighting over this kind of 3rd party brand association for years now via exclusive television commercials, so it’s nothing new.

Huge marketing campaign and/or high sales:

At this point, the ‘mascot-machine’ is practically made, but for this to actually have a wide-spread effect Sony needs to get this game into as many households as possible, with a huge marketing campaign. Every dollar spent towards advertising Battle Royale will help promote:

  • The actual game (PS3, PSV)
  • The new slimmer PlayStation 3 as an alternative to the Wii U/cross-play.
  • The PlayStation Vita/cross-play.
  • The PlayStation brand.
  • Upcoming games starring any of the All-Stars.

Sony has been incredibly thrifty when it comes to advertising games (several key PS3 exclusives including Twisted Metal barely received any commercials to promote their releases) but if the infamous leaky faucet Paul Gale is to be believed, this won’t be the case with PlayStation All-Stars:

Sony is aiming to make this one of their biggest and most successful titles this Fall on PlayStation 3. A lot of you have been showing concern that it’s not being handled well or as importantly as it should, but keep in mind, it’s still a few months away and by then, you’re gonna experience a blitzkrieg of advertising online, in print, on television, and in movie theaters.

Skepticism aside, I feel inclined to believe Paul since there’s already reports of online advertising 2 months away from release.

Great gameplay that sticks:

The reason gamers love Super Smash Bros isn’t because it’s a cross-franchise brawler (that helps) but rather due to the fast, fun gameplay that beckons you, and your friends to dive in.

This is the most important point for PlayStation All-Stars to become a regular successful Smash Bros level franchise, yet it requires the least addressing because extended previews have all been positive, and Sony’s going to push this game out to everyone with a PS3 via the public beta this fall, so gamers across the globe with a PS3 will be able to get hooked on the gameplay before Battle Royale even releases.

If PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is handled well by Sony, and the team at SuperBot, it could become a more than competent commercial rival to Smash Bros that truly highlights, and brings together the large, diverse, and often forgotten PlayStation mascots of the past, present, and future.