Not sure that's true. They knew going in that they would be compared to Smash, but people are saying their efforts didn't really even step up to the plate of Smash. They needed to do better. Not outright clone, but good enough to withstand the comparison, and most have said that they did not do that. I played it at E3 and it was just a mess. I haven't played it since, and I plan on getting it but the budget is a bit tight right now. A lot of the characters just don't seem to work together or seem flat...
You're missing my point entirely. SuperBot went on record to say they were certainly inspired, but that doesn't mean a thing when the game was obviously taken in a different direction. There's a very obvious design similarity, but when it comes down to its gameplay there's far more tactic involved that shares more with Street Fighter, than Smash. I'm not sure what exactly you played at E3, but a mess it most certainly wasn't. I think, again, what I'm hearing is that you had a very clear notion of what you believed it to be, and upon playing it...not Smash...you were taken off guard as the game didn't meet the expectations you had set forth. That doesn't make it a mess, it simply makes it a different game than what you had imagined.
As for this "people are saying this/that" nonsense...we have two people in this thread that have chimed in on the finished product, one who self-admittedly doesn't like Brawl (or apparently similar games), and the other who plays this daily online...so we're rather skewed on the opinion side. The remaining opinions are of old builds (6mo +), BETA (much has changed), and the ever quotable internet "experts". I just don't see how this conversation can move forward until people realize that inspiration and identity are two different things...something SuperBot and the team has taken into consideration and worked towards in their favor. I can't tell you how many people stood in line hating on the game, calling it a Smash clone, arguing semantics about the design, etc., only to turn right around after playing it in realization that it really doesn't play a thing like Smash in its execution. I've heard the same things at events running all the way up to yesterday (I was at an event featuring the game).
As for the characters, again, they all work incredibly well and within the confines of their universe. You played a build that is now 6 months old, and there have been plenty of balance adjustments made on each character. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts when you sit down with it now, post-E3, final build with tweaks in place.
...a lack of Crash Bandicoot, no matter the current licensing, is a tremendous oversight. He built PS in my mind.
As for Crash, again, that's simply something you can't condemn SuperBot or Sony for. It would be ignorant to think they didn't hear the pleas from fans, or listen to them. There's nothing to say what the future holds, but damn if you aren't forgetting a major piece of the puzzle here. No matter where the franchise was born, and whom bore it...the license (something you seem to acknowledge, but sidestep) doesn't belong to Sony. Activision has it firmly in their grip and, well, I don't think we need to expand on that. Activision is, and always will be (under the control of Kotik), a difficult company to work with. Point the finger squarely on Activision for the time being. I can't even fathom what those discussions, if they happened, would have been like. I can imagine, however, that Activision would have asked for complete creative control over his presence in the game, and a rather square deal on residuals that no company would have been ok with. I imagine Activision would have asked for residuals that would reflect a top-bill presence of Crash, and that's incredibly bold of Activision and, frankly, a risk for SuperBot.NO DOUBT where Crash owes his success!
The game is trending well, selling well, and reviewing well enough to score a 76 on Metacritic which is quite favorable for a game in this genre.
I think, all in all, most of the push-back on this title comes in two forms. First of all, the KO mechanic for scoring. Traditional fighting games offered a life-bar you would chip away at...a very visible goal for players to gauge how well they were doing. Smash was a little less clear, but offered up a Damage Meter that would indicate how far players would fly. The higher the meter, the further they'd launch running risk of a ringout KO. PSASBR offers something new in a risk/reward system where players are urged to work combos, learn the benefits/limitations. Not every character has an "end-all" Level 3...but that's certainly the perception. Some Level 3 Supers are cinematic and the end result is a maximum of 3 KO's, while some offer player-controlled input that, with well placed and masterful execution, can result in as many as 6-8 KO's upon respawn of the other players. The risk, however, is that it becomes a game of strategy here. Building up a Special is one thing, executing it is another. They aren't these unblockable moves that offer the executing player invincibility...they can be countered, they can be cancelled...so what then is the motivation to stock up? Well, the motivation is that it offers more strategy. It isn't always the most intelligent decision to spend the better half of a match building up that Level 3, when multiple Level 1 or 2 Specials will make all the difference in the world.
Secondly, the character roster. There is no denying that upon announcing this title, Sony was met with equal parts interest and unadulterated passion as to whom should be featured. Fans were rabid with the notion of who was most deserving, who represented the title of PlayStation All-Star best and it ran the gamut across both first and third party characters. The debates often became so passionate that many claimed they wouldn't purchase the game if CHARACTER X wasn't featured. The bottom line, it quickly became apparent that there were dozens upon dozens of suitable characters that would be appropriate fits within the guidelines SuperBot set forth. Ultimately they couldn't include them all. Logistics set a suitable amount of launch characters, licensing spelled exorbitant amounts of money that would have to be spent, frankly the game opened up the door to a massive amount of potential but, the game was a risky endeavor. Thankfully it's done well so we've already heard about 2 new characters coming soon, for FREE...and I doubt they're the last we'll see.
The point being is that it is literally impossible for anyone to walk into this and feel ok with it right of the bat. The play style is certainly accessible, but the formula is something completely new, and definitely has a learning curve like most other high-grade tournament-style fighting games. I had an incredibly difficult time stepping away from what I understood the game to be, and I'll be honest, I really didn't like it at first. I, too, fell prey to the media comparisons of Smash until I really spent time with it. I went in button-mashing, because that is effective in Smash...and I was schooled. I took the time to learn that there is ground-work on an incredibly deep combo system that rewards players who learn the nuances of each character. I realized there is no super character that anyone can play and dominate with, they all have strengths, and they all have weaknesses. All of that aside I learned, most of all, that this wasn't a casual-friendly game at its core. It certainly offers accessible control and pick-up-and-play mechanics...but it doesn't reward players that don't explore the depth of the game. Perhaps that's the problem here? People are looking to it as that party-friendly game Smash was/is, while the reality is that it shares far more with its core-aimed tournament-ready brethren?