MultiVersus Closed Alpha Preview – Nonsensical Fun

Super Smash Bros. was a real game-changer for both party and fighting games, providing a sandbox for Nintendo characters to duke it out in some multiplayer fun. The series has since expanded to even include characters from beyond Nintendo, and the games have even become a staple of the competitive fighting scene.

In the meantime, other developers and publishers have tried to execute this template with their own take and flavor. Perhaps the most notable being PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which tried to achieve the same thing with Sony-owned IPs.  Last year we saw Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl which was a passable Super Smash Bros. at best, and if seeing SpongeBob punch a Ninja Turtle wasn’t weird enough, then Warner Bros. is cooking up its own weird fighting game crossover in the upcoming MultiVersus, which is currently going through a closed alpha testing.

Warner Bros.’s angle is simple: they own a whole bunch of IPs, bought a whole bunch of classic ones over the years, and decided to bring all their characters together into one nonsensical Smash Bros. clone. This Warner multiverse crossover isn’t exactly new itself, like Space Jam: A New Legacy went beyond just the Looney Tunes license when incorporating a whole bunch of unrelated IPs to create some disjointed scenes. Still, it gets a whole lot weirder and disjointed in MultiVersus when you see Shaggy from Scooby-Doo hit Wonder Woman over the head with a sandwich of all things. Somehow, Bugs Bunny is the only character that makes logical sense here.

Where other crossovers have some rhyme and reason, this one simply does not, as you have characters from Batman, Adventure Time, Game of Thrones, and even Tom and Jerry just straight-up sharing the same fighting arena. Seeing Sonic battle Nintendo characters was a landmark moment in gaming, but literally, no one asked to see Batman battle Shaggy, no one.

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Yet, as utterly ridiculous and nonsensical as this all seems at first, and it’s natural to be skeptical of the offering here, you end up finding a game that is actually thoughtfully put together, with even the disjointed cast of characters appearing to have thought and care go into their design and play systems.

MultiVersus supports up to four players, with the main mode being 2 on 2 tag team battles. What makes this game different from other Smash Bros. clones is the emphasis on teamwork, with various character abilities, such as Wonder Woman’s whip, lending themselves naturally to team-based tactics. There are four-player party battles and even one on one contests too, and while it would have been nice to have more characters onscreen, the game does feel deliberate in executing its ideas with just four players.

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The core gameplay will be familiar to anyone who has played Smash Bros. or any of its clones, you got that weird floaty jump, light and strong attacks, a variety of special moves, and the objective of knocking your opponent off the screen. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel too much, but it’s not as shallow as you’d think, as there are subtle nuances to the combat mechanics as evident in the detailed tutorials. Honestly, if you’re in the closed alpha test, then chances are you were pleasantly surprised by how well this seems to play.

It’s still early days, but it’s clear how MultiVersus is taking itself seriously as a game. Sure, the cast of characters makes no sense, but they have been thoughtfully designed and the various assets and artwork look nice enough. It may not attract you with its cast of characters, but it may make you want to dig into its interesting play systems.

MultiVersus is set to fully launch later this year as a free-to-play title with an open beta scheduled for July 2022.

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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!