Multiversus, a Platform Fighter with a Lot of Charm
Super Smash Bros, a series that began back in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, is arguably the most notable platform fighter in video game history. The concept of characters from different franchises duking it out on a stage with their unique movesets resonated with millions of gamers and Smash's 20+ year run is a testament to that.
So it is to no surprise when other publishers want to make their own "Smash clones" to replicate that success. Some games such as Brawlhalla and Rivals of Aether managed to carve out their own niches and enjoy a healthy competitive scene. Others, however, failed to make a splash and for different reasons.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale had an interesting kill mechanic where the only way to kill opponents is to land a "super move". Unfortunately, its roster was left to desired with the lack of iconic characters associated with PlayStation such as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII or Snake from Metal Gear Solid.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl had an expansive roster of characters from franchises such as Spongebob Squarepants, Avatar, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But the game was poorly received namely for the audio. The sound effects all sound the same regardless of whether it is a punch, a kick, or a special move. Characters lack any voice acting which makes the game feel absolutely sterile.
So when Multiversus comes in (as a closed alpha) and quickly gains so much positive attention, what has the game done right where others went wrong? The answer: It's all in the little details.
This is something even Smash does not have. It's one thing for characters to have voiced grunts, battle cries, and growls. However, it's a whole another thing when characters actually banter with each other and react to situations. Does it affect the gameplay in any way? No, but it gives the game and its characters a lot of life and personality.
For example, if Shaggy is in the Batcave, he may joke if Batman would notice if he took the Batmobile for a drive (0:19). Or sometimes, he will make a nod towards the Ultra Instinct Shaggy meme when he says he'll be using 2% of his powers (0:12).
The game will also acknowledge certain rivalries such as Superman vs. Batman with unique lines. If Batman defeats Superman, he will comment on his victory with plenty of snark (0:46 & 1:04). If Superman is knocked out of the ring, he will complement Batman's fighting prowess after he returns to the stage (0:41 & 1:00). And yes, Kevin Conrad is reprising the role of Batman in this game, too.
Check out MrRedRivers' other videos for more examples.
Something to note is that not all characters have voiced dialogue. But that does not mean those characters are bereft of personality which leads to the next strength of Multiversus.
My absolute favorite part with Multiversus in terms of animation is Tom and Jerry. Whoever did their animation deserves a raise because it is both clever and hilarious.
Unlike other characters who are engaging in a brawl, Tom is technically chasing after Jerry and their "opponents" just happen to get in the way as collateral damage. Even their standing animation says a whole lot with Tom preparing to grab Jerry while the mouse is in a "stick'em up" stance (11:10). When Tom swings his hammer or racket, Jerry dodges and if any unlucky character happens to get in the way, he/she receives damage. They even have some tag-team moves like how you can have Jerry launch a cork at Tom for him to deflect it with his racket (13:08). It's a really interesting spin on the Rosalina & Luma concept.
Oh, and Tom's screams are as funny as they were in the original cartoon.
Velma is another notable example of incorporating wacky concepts in animation (16:08 above). She's a zoner type of character, but her projectiles are speech bubbles. When she charges up her running attack, the game accompanies it with the cartoon scamper sound effect that you would expect to hear from a Scooby Doo episode. Also, as she crawls, she drops her glasses and will keep knocking them forward until she stands back up.
I could go on and on with more examples, but this post would be way too long. That said, I can say for sure that Multiversus has given each character a lot of love and respects their legacies. The animations and banter give the game a lot of personality. And as a game, Multiversus isn't too shabby either. The gameplay is very solid and plays differently enough to separate it from Smash such as how there's no shield button or ledge grabbing. It'll be interesting to see how this game grows as it heads into open beta this July and adds more characters to the roster. (I low-key want Static from the Static Shock TV series to make an appearance.)