They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but the Nintendo die-hard fans who have been busying themselves with slandering PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale across every website, blog and YouTube video clearly didn't get the memo.
Sony no doubt anticipated a backlash when first announcing it, but the vitriolic criticism made by Smash Bros. fans unwilling to accept that their favourite gaming series had been copied by the perceived 'enemy' likely far exceeded the negative reaction they expected – and who would blame them for being surprised?
Since the dawn of the video game industry, developers have borrowed/stolen original ideas from other developers, which in turn has given us the genres we have today. Would we have Tekken and Mortal Kombat if not for Street Fighter II? Would we have had Sonic if not for Mario? Each genre and sub-genre of video games throughout history has required a catalyst to launch it into popularity, but up until now the amount of Smash Bros. clones has been strangely minimal.
Nintendo has notoriously had many of its ideas pilfered from other companies, from the Nintendo 64 controller's analog stick being implemented in the original PlayStation's Dual Shock controller (to an arguably better effect), to the popularisation of the 'Karting' sub-genre – the only reason that PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale has generated so much heat is that it is copying an idea that has rarely been copied before.
But this is what makes it exciting. Nintendo has perfected the four-player beat 'em up to the point where other developers have rarely bothered to step up to the plate, but even though it is unlikely that Sony will be able to compete with a series that has been fine-tuned over three generations of consoles, the fact that they're bothering suggests that we may see more contenders to Nintendo's throne in a sub-genre which has been sadly underrepresented.
Those who have played the original Xbox's Kung Fu Chaos (pictured above) will agree that there is room for more titles in the four-player beat 'em up sub-genre. While it didn't benefit from the recognisable characters and arenas that Super Smash Bros. did, it featured similar madcap gameplay and the same emphasis on fun rather than technical skill that also separated Nintendo's flagship fighter from its more 'traditional' fighting game contemporaries.
Kung Fu Chaos, although underrated, proved that you don't need to be the best game in your genre for your existence to be warranted – despite not matching the quality of the Smash Bros. series, it was still an incredibly fun game in its own right and well worth playing. Likewise, did experiencing the platforming magic of Super Mario 64 prevent you from enjoying Crash Bandicoot? I thought not.
Although I celebrate originality in an industry which seems to have become infatuated with sequels and reboots, I also understand that sometimes it is inevitable that developers will borrow good ideas from each other; if they implement it well, as I am sure Sony will, then this can only be a good thing for gamers from both camps – PlayStation owners will have a great new IP, and future Wii U owners should be comfortable in the knowledge that Nintendo will do everything they can to ensure that Sora Ltd./Namco Bandai Games (the developers of the as-yet-untitled fourth Smash Bros. game) embarrass their rivals by creating the best Smash Bros. yet.
The announcement of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale is a welcome one, regardless of how many Nintendo fanboys find themselves outraged that another company would dare create their own interpretation of a hugely popular and profitable series. I, for one, cannot wait to take Sweet Tooth's chainsaw to Nathan Drake's smug face, and although it may not have the same cultural significance as seeing Mario kick seven shades of shit out of Sonic, that doesn't mean that it won't be fun as hell.