PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Beta Preview (Vita)

If you’ve got a PlayStation Vita and are subscribed to PlayStation Plus (or perhaps won one of our contests), then you are already eligible to download the beta for PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (or PSABR for short), Sony’s long-awaited answer to Nintendo’s smash-hit franchise Super Smash Brothers. We’ve seen this game multiple times throughout its development cycle, but haven’t really had much time with the Vita version, save a brief encounter at E3. With the game now out in public beta, how does it perform in real-world use?

The first thing you’ll notice when booting up the game is that it is very button-friendly. In line with the recent firmware update to the Vita which enabled controlling the LiveArea with the Vita’s many buttons, you can utilize a combination of the touchscreen or physical buttons to navigate your way around the menus. Since this is a beta, your options are pretty limited – there is a basic tutorial, which runs you through all you need to know to get playing. The other option is Tournament, and here is where the real action is.

In this beta, you are granted access to the same six characters we’ve seen before – Kratos, Parappa the Rapper, the Fat Princess, Sweet Tooth, Radec, and Sly Cooper. According to one of PSLS’ writers and fellow podcaster Jesse Meikle, some combinations have changed for a few characters. Outside of this, however, the control scheme remains the same: You press X to jump, and the other face buttons to attack, in combination with a direction on the D-Pad or left analog stick. One thing that is going to be reassuring for many people is that the game does not pull a Street Fighter and make the touchscreen an easy way to perform combos. I don’t really see that as necessary anyway, when there aren’t really true combos that can be pulled off. You only use the touchscreen to pick up an item when you are near it.

Graphically, PSABR is gorgeous on the Vita. It doesn’t look very far removed from the PS3 version, either. All effects display onscreen just as furiously as on the “big brother” version, and frame rate stays consistent throughout the match. With short match times, this brawler is a perfect fit for the Vita. It’s also worth noting that online performance is pretty smooth. You’d think there would be noticeable delay due to the Vita’s only online option being via Wifi, but that just isn’t the case. It seems that with the advent of 802.11n wireless, connections are consistent enough that lag is no longer an issue. I did have a couple of disconnects during my playtime, but that seemed to be due to an unhappy host quitting the game. Hopefully if someone quits, the host changes, but we will see if that gets implemented when the game launches next month.

Speaking of networking, this is also the first time we’ve been able to attempt Cross-Play on PSABR outside a controlled demonstration, where you can duke it out with any combination of four PlayStation 3s and Vitas. This includes online invitations, which work very well. I don’t know how many of my opponents I faced that were on PS3s while I was on my Vita, but I think that’s the point. The implementation of Cross-Play is such that the device you are playing on fades into the background, and all that matters is that you are bashing Fat Princess with Kratos’ Blades of Chaos. It’s fun, hilarious at times, and the strategies you can use with its unique “Super” moves plays into obtaining a glorious victory at the last minute, or never spending all that AP and failing, hard. Sony’s answer to PlayStation fans everywhere is looking like exactly what we asked for.