EVO 2012: PlayStation All-Stars in the Spotlight

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EVO 2012: PlayStation All-Stars in the Spotlight

Infiltration’s victory in the 2012 Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition finals late Sunday night marked the close of EVO 2012, the annual championship that sees international fighting game experts compete in top fighters like Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Virtua Fighter 5, and Tekken 6. This year, SuperBot Entertainment attended the competition to show off the PS3 and PS Vita versions of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, the studio’s upcoming love letter to PlayStation history and the fighting game genre.

PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale at EVO 2012PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale at EVO 2012

Here Comes a New Challenger

PlayStation All-Stars’ EVO showing included a chance to sample newly announced characters Heihachi and Toro. Intitially, I had the most luck with Toro, using his deadly Mochi bombs, shuriken blasts, and comical bicycle kicks to torment foes from a safe distance. But despite his adorable appearance and goofy combat style, Toro is no lightweight. He’s a versatile, nuanced fighter thanks to three fighting stances that enable him to alternate between close-range attacks (Justice stance), wide crowd control (Oni stance), and long-range strikes (Torobi stance). His Supers are no slouch, either: Level one sends Toro flying forward to plow through nearby foes, level two dumps a falling star into the middle of the screen, and level three scores an automatic kill against every opponent on the screen as Toro lashes out in a Mochi-spattered rage.

PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Toro and Heihachi reveal

“Toro can change fighting styles… it’s essentially a stance system. He actually has more than twice the number of moves of the other characters because each stance represents an entirely different move set.” — Omar Kendall, Game Director, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

Heihachi, meanwhile, excels in traditional close-range encounters. With his easy combo strings and trademark Demon Godfist uppercuts, Heihachi is a juggling machine capable of racking up loads of AP in short order. He’s also one of the few characters with a melee counter, which gives him an edge against other brawlers such as Big Daddy and Parappa. His Supers are eccentric but effective, beginning with a basic short-range unblockable hammer fist at level one and progressing to a devastating bear bodyguard (Kuma from Tekken) at level two. For his level three Super, Heihachi straps all three opponents to a missile and launches them into orbit — dude, harsh.

“At SuperBot, we’re huge fans of fighting games and I don’t think there’s any fighting game series that is more closely associated with PlayStation than Tekken. Heihachi is a great fit and he makes total sense.”
Omar Kendall, Game Director, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

Omar Kendall - PlayStation All-Stars Battle RoyaleOmar Kendall - PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

Never Stop Flaying

Meanwhile, on the OLED screen, All-Stars looked virtually indistinguishable from its PS3 big brother. The PS Vita version rendered densely detailed characters, boisterous backgrounds, and an ultra-fluid framerate. Thanks to the development attentions of Bluepoint Games, the PS Vita version also sports an array of minor tweaks and enhancements aimed at portable pugilists, from the small (touch controls on menus) to the large (markers to help identify characters in wide camera angles). You can use the left analog stick or d-pad to control the action, and trigger those all-important Supers by pressing L and R together.

The game also supports Vita-to-PS3 crossplay support for multiplayer matches via Wifi. The crossplay feature was a pleasant surprise, based on my hands-on experiences, and it points to a future where portable gamers and console gamers can meet as equals. I played a series of four-player matches using crossplay, and the two PS3s and two Vitas coordinated the chaos without a single hitch. The future is now!

”We’re really happy with the PS Vita version, especially that it’s running at 60 frames per second with full crossplay support. I have to give credit to the guys at Bluepoint Games. They’re doing an amazing job.”
Omar Kendall, Game Director, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

EVO: PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale panel with SuperBot Entertainment

Fighting Future

Elsewhere at EVO, the SuperBot crew presented the technical side of the game in a panel targeted at hardcore fighting game fans. PlayStation All-Stars fighters don’t have traditional health meters; instead, they attack opponents in order to build up energy, which they unleash in the form of several Super moves. Though you can’t block Super attacks, you can avoid many of them if you’re quick: SuperBot demonstrated a rolling technique that makes your character briefly invulnerable.

”You’re not whittling down life bars, you’re building up energy, or AP. The more damage you do, the more AP you gain. So it’s all about unleashing these Supers, which are essentially one-hit kills that score you points.” — Omar Kendall, Game Director, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale

The EVO panel confirmed that the final game will support 1v1 and 2v2 team modes in addition to the default free-for-all mode, while an “infinite combo avoidance” system will prevent unstoppable combos. The developers also discussed the game’s grappling system, which presents players with several throw options: up, down, and lateral, with each choice presenting certain strategic benefits depending on your play style. Initiating a vertical throw, for example, gives you a chance to execute a juggle combo and score more AP.

After the panel, SuperBot also took time to field community questions regarding character customization (“there are definitely a lot of unlocks in the game”) and future guest characters (“there will be a combination of first-party [PlayStation] and third-party characters”) to netcode (“it feels fundamentally different…we don’t slow the whole game down to compensate for lag”).

One attendee asked about the studio’s plans for a final boss battle, and though Kendall confirmed that the game will feature a final boss, he admitted that the studio wasn’t ready to share who, exactly, it is. “Stay tuned,” he added. “For fans of PlayStation, our final boss will make a lot of sense.”

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