REVIEW: ‘Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’ Shows Potential (XSX)

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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

While Super Smash Bros. may be enough for most gamers looking for a fun fighting game, Ludosity and Fair Play Labs are hoping Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl can dethrone the champ. Published by GameMill Entertainment, Nickelodon All-Star Brawl is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and Steam. With an eclectic cast of characters and iconic maps, does All-Star Brawl do enough to make it a true competitor? Let’s take a look.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a game that I’m honestly surprised took so long to come to fruition. The Smash franchise has been around for decades, and other franchises have tried similar things before (looking at you PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale). Nintendo and Sony may be really popular now, but it’s hard to imagine that either one has had as much of a cultural impact as Nickelodeon has since they reached their peak in the late 90s and early 2000s. Shows like SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Rugrats are so popular that it’s almost impossible to find anyone who hasn’t at least heard of them.

While it does surprise me that Nickelodeon took so long to put their characters into a fighting game, it doesn’t surprise me that the nostalgia makes the game so much fun to play. I never knew how badly I wanted to play a fighting game as SpongeBob until I actually played it. Each character feels very fluid to play, and the base mechanics are not too difficult to learn. There are a total of 20 characters included in the base game, ranging from Aang to Nigel Thornberry and even Powdered Toast Man. There are some glaring omissions in terms of popular Nickelodeon characters, but there are already plans for post-launch DLC that should help fill that void. It will be difficult for Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl to match the incredible roster that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has, but they do have enough options to choose from to make it close.

On top of using iconic characters that we all know and love (and a few that I wasn’t familiar with), the selection of maps is quite good. Maps like Jellyfish Fields and the Western Air Temple are incredibly detailed, so fans of the shows referenced in the game will be quite excited to see some of their favorite locations. While some maps feel like Smash maps with Nickelodeon skins, there are others like Powdered Toast Trouble that have you fighting in a bowl of cereal and on a frying pan that feel unique and interesting. There are 20 maps in all, to match the inclusion of 20 characters, but I’m hoping we can see more included in future DLC.

Even though I love the characters that were used and the maps that were chosen, they do make one of the game’s biggest flaw even more noticeable: the lack of voice acting and limited music from the shows referenced in the game. I’m not sure if it’s a licensing issue or if they simply didn’t think it was necessary, but it would have made a huge difference if each character had their own voice lines and more themes from the shows were used. Each character has a text box intro, and while that would work for a generic fighting game it just isn’t the same when you want to hear it in their own iconic voices.

The other thing that really bothered me is that there are no items to use. As frustrating as items can be sometimes in Smash, I have to imagine Nickelodeon has enough to pull from to create some truly creative and interesting items. The combat is really fun, but items absolutely would have made it more interesting and chaotic. Especially with how fast-paced the gameplay is.

Speaking of gameplay, the fighting is extremely fluid and quite fun to play. There are normal attacks, strong attacks, special attacks, and grabbing mechanics. You can even taunt your opponents, which is quite funny. You also have your basic stock and timed game modes. There is an added sports mode that lets you play an objective-based game based on scoring on your opponent, but I didn’t really enjoy that mode. It might be good for some people, but I wasn’t a big fan. There is also a single-player arcade mode where you advance through different CPU opponents and can unlock things like new songs for the jukebox. I really liked the arcade mode, since one-on-one combat is very enjoyable. The gameplay overall does feel extremely similar to Smash, but the way it flows and the speed at which it takes place is definitely fun.

Overall, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a fun fighting game with iconic characters and easy to learn but challenging to master mechanics. They nailed the feel of a good fighting game, but the game still feels like it has a ways to go before it reaches the level of an iconic franchise like Smash. The potential is absolutely there, and after we see a few DLC launches who knows where it will stand, but for now it’s hard to imagine myself inviting friends over to play All-Star Brawl when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still around.

Nickelodon All-Star Brawl is out now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and on Steam.


Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Overall, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a fun fighting game with iconic characters and easy to learn but challenging to master mechanics. They nailed the feel of a good fighting game, but the game still feels like it has a ways to go before it reaches the level of an iconic franchise like Smash. The potential is absolutely there, and after we see a few DLC launches who knows where it will stand, but for now it’s hard to imagine myself inviting friends over to play All-Star Brawl when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still around.