It was a shock back in 2008 when Sonic the Hedgehog joined the roster of "Super Smash Bros. Brawl," the Wii installment of the popular fighting series featuring Nintendo characters. Here was the mascot of Sega, Nintendo's longtime nemesis, playing for the other team. It was a sign of how far Sonic had fallen from his glory days. He couldn't beat 'em, so he joined 'em.

What a shock it is, again, to see iconic Sony characters, like Sweet Tooth and PaRappa, joining up as well. Hang on, you're telling me this isn't "Smash Bros."? Oh, I see how it is. It's not "Smash Bros.," Nintendo's four-player crossover fighting game featuring Nintendo characters, its "PlayStation All-Star Battle Royale," Sony's four-player crossover fighting game featuring Sony characters. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the folks over at Nintendo must be blushing their heads off.

Yes, "borrowing" good ideas is a tradition in video games -- and in the real world -- but what's next from Sony? A 2-D sidescroller called "Superb Maria Sisters"?

"Battle Royale" apologists argue that the game isn't the copycat it seems to be. "Smash Bros.," they say, involved knocking opponents out of stages, while in "Battle Royale," you can only kill enemies with special moves, which you earn by filling up a meter. Admittedly, this does add a modicum of strategy, because if you miss with a special move, you have to refill your meter. The catch is that the way you fill your meter is by attacking your enemies -- so whether you're playing "Smash Bros." or "Battle Royale," the name of the game is frantically punching anyone standing around you.

'PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale'
» System: PS3, Vita
» Price: $59.99 PS3, $39.99 Vita
» Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Other small differences abound. Throwing opponents is easier. Items are fewer and less powerful. And people no longer fly farther when hit based on how much damage they've taken -- one of many ways "Battle Royale" is a more reigned-in, sedate experience.

But that's all beside the point. Anyone ignorant of this game's existence who saw it being played, and couldn't see what system it was being played on, would assume Sony had let Nintendo use its characters in a new "Smash Bros."

Bottom line: If you feel like you've been missing out on "Smash Bros.," and you don't mind playing as Nathan Drake, Sly Cooper and Kratos instead of Mario, Luigi and Bowser, "Battle Royale" gets the job done.