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I spent some time earlier this week with the beta for developer SuperBot's Sony mash-up fighter PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, and while it was a crazy good time, one of its design decisions really struck me as odd. And no, it wasn't the random quiz show that broke out in the middle of the match or the impromptu battle between God of War's Hades and a squad of Patapon warriors.
It was SuperBot's decision to use the word "kill" to signify victory.
Traditionally, fighting games refer to wins as "knockouts" or "KOs." The implication is that you have knocked your opponent unconscious, but he's okay and he'll get up to fight again. Mortal Kombat is a notable exception, but "mortal" is right there in the title, so the developers pretty much painted themselves into a corner with that one.
Battle Royale, on the other hands, explicitly says that when you do a finishing move and your opponent disappears to respawn later, you have killed that other character. It weighs your kills against your deaths at the end of the round and choses a winner based on whose net total is the largest — it awards two points for each kill and subtracts one for each death.
Does that strike anyone else as odd?
Maybe it isn't; most of the characters we know about right now from official announcements and leaks are straight-up murderers. Let's look at the list:
- Big Daddy (BioShock)
- Cole McGrath (Infamous)
- Colonel Radec (Killzone 2)
- Dante (Devil May Cry)
- Evil Cole (Infamous)
- Fat Princess
- Heihachi (Tekken)
- Jak and Daxter
- Kratos (God of War)
- Nariko (Heavenly Sword)
- Nathan Drake (Uncharted)
- Raiden (Metal Gear Solid series)
- Ratchet and Clank
- Sackboy (Little Big Planet)
- Sir Daniel (MediEvil)
- Sly Cooper
- Spike (Ape Escape)
- Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal)
- Toro Inoue (Together Everywhere!)
Granted, several of those characters are known murderers. Hell, I would be surprised if the skull-faced, demon-possessed clown wasn't killing someone. But a few of those characters stand out. PaRappa, for example, is a two-dimensional rapping dog-thing who sings a song about how he feels compelled to believe. Sly Cooper is a gentleman thief. Spike has dedicated his life to rounding up rogue apes.
These characters, and others on that list (Sackboy, why?), are cute, fun, and no more capable of murder than I am of playing Dance Central without cringing and/or falling down.
This is a minor quibble, to be sure; the game is just as fun whether you're murdering your enemies, knocking them out, or sending them on a two-second trip to Disneyland. It's just a supremely odd choice of words in a game that is so otherwise whimsical.
Let me put it like this: The way this game puts it, PaRappa's most powerful move is a rap that is so awesome that it kills everyone in the room.
That's totally weird, right?