Sony just might be onto something when it comes to this “Cross-Play” feature it’s advertising between the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.  Think about it.  You’ve got a game going on your home system and want to take it with you on vacation, but without lugging around your console to the hotel room.  Or maybe you still want to keep competitive with your buddies even though you’re not near your place.  This little feature makes it happen.

Now we just need more games that take advantage of it.  Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and MLB 12: The Show is an excellent start, but more games are coming down in the next few months that will take advantage of this, delivering just as solid an experience on handheld as it would on a home system, even if slightly deficient in graphics.  Among these offerings is PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, a game announced just weeks ago for PS3, and now confirmed for portable play.  It’s time to get slap happy.

In case you’re unfamiliar with All Stars, it’s essentially Sony’s take on the Super Smash Bros. lexicon.  You’ve got characters and backdrops taken from a plethora of their classic and current hits, from Kratos and the God of War universe to Sly Cooper and his sneaky ways.  These are all slapped together into battle arenas, where the goal is to rack up as many “kills” as possible.  By “kills”, we mean eliminations, where you take out opponents using one of three different levels of “super” attacks.  The more energy you store during a match, the better the “super” you can unleash.

Granted, this isn’t a game where you sit around the energy magically appears.  You have to fight, using light, medium and strong attacks, as well as weapons that occasionally pop onto the playfield.  In addition, the backgrounds sometimes play a part in the action, as you’ll have to move quickly to dodge incoming strikes.  For instance, in the Jak and Daxter stage, golfers from Hot Shots Golf show up, swatting balls that, for some inexplicable reason, have an explosive effect.  Man, it just isn’t your day.  There’s also a stage where Hades, the God of War’s main villain, swings his axes around on occasion while you fight in the forefront – before he becomes swarmed with Patapons, anyway.

The unpredictable nature of each stage is what makes it so much fun.  One minute you’re fighting in a LittleBigPlanet-inspired world, and the next, it turns into a Buzz! quiz show, where you need to stand on the right answers to avoid taking serious damage.  But, in addition, the developers at Superbot have also done a superb job with character balance.  Some are better than others in certain areas.  General Radek from Killzone, for instance, is deadly from a distance, while Fat Princess, from the game of the same name, can do devastating strikes in melee range.

No matter who you choose, the Vita version of All Stars will provide just as much depth in character selection and brawling as the PS3 version.  Several fighters have already been announced, with the latest additions, Nathan Drake from Uncharted and Big Daddy from Bioshock, announced a few weeks ago at E3.  And more are being added each month, with rumors that Nariko from Heavenly Sword and Jak from the Jak and Daxter team are next in line.  We’ll see.

The game also relies heavily on fighting against your buddies (natch).  Though online play isn’t confirmed quite yet, it’s gotta be a given, considering the multiplayer prospects that await in a game such as this.  One thing we do know, though, is that you can fight with people across both PS3 and Vita, adding to the “Cross-Play” factor I described above.  We took part in a fight with three guys on the PS3 and one on the Vita, and, honestly, we didn’t experience any problem with interaction or connection whatsoever.  Whether more than one Vita player can take part aside from online is a question we still need answered, but, still, we’re glad we have a few options available when it comes to beating up friends.  TAKE THAT!

Along with gameplay, All Stars also packs a punch with presentation.  (Say that five times fast.)  The ever-changing backgrounds are superb, as we described above, and there are many touches that show you this is truly Sony’s universe, whether it’s Quark being picked on by serpents or the Patapons ruling hellish terrain.  And to think, we haven’t seen everything the game has to offer just yet.

PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale is ready to unleash havoc on the PlayStation Vita later this year, and fans that are concerned about the lack of quality on the handheld needn’t worry.  Superbot is putting a ton of work into this version so that it’s every bit as good as the console one.  And to think, you can beat up folks on the way to Grandma’s house!