Welcome to a new edition of Alce Analyzes (been a while, hasn’t it?), where I analyze stuff stuff I feel like analyzing.
While I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore fan, I really enjoy Super Smash Bros. And, I also really like Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale. I honestly wish it had caught on, but I suppose there are people more qualified than me to explain you what makes SSB so much better than PSABR. Nevertheless, I want to compare these two. However, instead of focusing on the intrinsic details of each game, I’ll look at their overall structure; and, how about I compare it to a football match?
So, I bet you’re wondering why I’m comparing these games to football. (if not, it probably means I’m a failure as a writer but oh well) Before I get to that though, I want to do a quick overview of the two game’s base mechanics. Both of them are party fighting games, but the way you defeat your opponent is very different. In SSB, your objective is to knock your enemies offscreen. The more damage you take, the easier it is to get sent flying. PSABR, your objective is to eliminate your opponents with special attacks called “supers”. To do a super, you have to gather “AP” by damaging opponents. The more you have, the better the super you can pull off.
I guess you all have a good idea of what football is and how a match plays out, but if not, I’d recommend you to turn on your TV, switch to your local sports channel, watch a piece of a football game, and then come back, ’cause or else this won’t make that much sense.
So, let’s start comparing them to football. Let’s start with a similarity; both of these games are more similar to football than other fighting games. Why? Well, in a sense they’re both all-or-nothing games. In football, you can play perfectly and pull off great moves, but unless you manage to score a goal, you won’t win. It’s the same deal in these two fighting games too; to win in SSB, you have to knock your opponent offscreen, and in PSABR, you have to eliminate your enemy with a super. Most traditional fighting games just have health bars, so even if you can’t do any special technique, you’ll still wear the enemies’ health bar down. That’s why button mashing works so well in some cases.
But, continuing on this line, we’ll see a clear difference between the two games: the rising action, the tension before the climax. In this case, I would SSB is way more like football. In your normal football match, there are clear moments of anticipation whenever one team reaches the opposing goalpost; will they be able to score a goal? In SSB, you see this in recoveries. You can get knocked off the main platform, but while you don’t go off-screen, you still have the chance to recover and get back on the stage. It’s definitely an art, and there’s the equally exciting (although more advanced) counter-art: edgeguarding, the act of making sure you opponent doesn’t come back to the stage, whether it be by waiting on the edge for them to come back to send them flying again, or by even smashing them when they’re still in the air. There’s this whole dynamic of risk and reward, and it’s really exciting.
On the other hand, PSABR does have some of this rising action, but it isn’t as great. Supers are separated in 3 levels. The first ones are basically the same as normal attacks… except that they kill you. It’s quick, unexciting, and there’s no build up to the attack itself. Level 2 supers vary a bit more in this aspect, some better than others, and Level 3 ones most definitely have this buildup. However, there’s two problems: first, level 2/3 supers have better build-up because they’re more flashy/longer, but they’re also simple and make it easy to kill your opponent, thus killing the whole skill and “art” aspect. There is some mastery in using and dodging them (particularly in the latter), but it isn’t as deep as SSB’s corresponding mechanics. Second, competitive play leans toward only using level 1 supers; they’re quick to reach and basically impossible to see coming, so even if they may be harder to use, it’s the better option of you’re good at the game. (It’s worth noting that I’m thinking mainly of 1vs1 battles here, because Level 2/3 are definitely the better choice for eliminating bigger groups of people).
So, let’s sum up these last points with a clear football analogy. As I mentioned, SSB is more like football; you can have the ball in the middle and be ok, or you can have it near a goalpost and be tense, whether it’s your team or the opposing one who’s about to make a goal. PSABR is kinda weird in this sense; most of the time you’re in the middle, getting close to the other side, but not really advancing much… until you use a super, and bam, you’re right in front of the goalpost.
Judging from these comparisons, you can probably tell which one I think is better. And while it’s true that’s PSABR is not as good as SSB, I feel like it’s important to note that it’s still fun, really fun. Its defects might kill the competitive aspect, but as a party game, one can still play ita lot and enjoy it a lot. So, play both of them!