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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review

Official Score

Overall - 50%

50%

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl attempts to follow the Super Smash Bros. formula, but it just doesn’t take things far enough. There’s a general lack of polish to its presentation and its physics, making it hard for even the most diehard Nicktoons fan to get engaged. Not even Nigel Thornberry and his smashing antics can save this platform fighter.

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90s kids are no doubt well-versed in Super Smash Bros. and Nickelodeon cartoons – it’s the stuff sleepovers are made of. The folks at Ludosity (of Slap City fame), Fair Play Labs, and GameMill Entertainment have crafted up a nostalgia bomb with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, a platform fighter chock-full of Nicktoons legends. Does this tribute work, or does it deserve a one-way ticket to the Slime Zone?

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review

The world of Super Smash Bros. established countless norms of the platform fighting genre, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl does little to stray the course. The objective is simple – knock your opponent off the stage without getting knocked off yourself. Everybody’s got a percentage meter they need to be mindful of, with higher percentages causing players to fly off the stage faster. Dish out enough damage, and you’ve got a prime target for launching players into oblivion.

However, the devil is most certainly in the details. The control scheme keeps things streamlined, with quick attacks, powerful attacks, and jumps all mapped to different buttons. No need to worry about pretzel maneuvers here; what you see is what you get. However, the system is built upon with running attacks, grabs, tech moves, and other things that have made themselves home in the fighting game community’s vernacular.

There’s even some wrinkles in the formula. For one, the strong attacks in this title follow a rock-paper-scissors rule set, with up beating down, down beating mid, and mid beating up. There’s also the chance to pull off the perfect block; just the thing to escape a sticky situation.

However, the execution of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl leaves something to be desired. Platform fighters live and die by their physics, and the system present here lacks the momentum needed for high level play. Even when characters have 80% damage, they often lay flat as a board as opponents rally into their dead doll form. It is clear from the offset that something feels off, and launching an opponent doesn’t feel satisfying. There were some glitches we game across in our playthrough as well, including times where we’d clip straight through the platform into certain death.

This same lack of polish applies to each characters’ general moveset. Those who were regulars on the Snick orange couch will be pleased to see characters from Catdog, Invader Zim, and even Hey Arnold!, but the premise is just not taken far enough. For instance, when thinking of The Wild Thornberry’s chief adventurer Nigel Thornberry, would you expect moves stolen wholesale from Pokémon Jigglypuff? How about Ren & Stimpy’s Powdered Toast Man, which has a move nicked from Star Fox’s Fox McCloud? There’s little originality at play with each character, and while some may consider it an homage, others will see it as a lesser version of what made its source material so great.

It extends to its presentation too. Each stage is based off of a major Nickelodeon property, but the presentation is absolutely sterile. Not a single song from each television show was used, and there are no voice over sound bites to speak of. While there is a bit of fanservice with background details and taunts (including the infamous Big Bob’s Beepers), it often feels like an afterthought. Even the announcer sounds bored, with lines like “that’s gotta hurt” sounding like the voice actor would rather be at a dentist appointment.

If anything, that theme extends to the game as a whole. Its suite of options has the exact same time, stock, and difficulty options of Super Smash Bros., but there are no items to speak of and the variety is lacking with its 20-character roster. One might say this was done to make it appeal to more hardcore players, but stages like the ever-moving Space Madness prove otherwise.

Unfortunately, there’s not much to encourage replayability in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. Outside of an Arcade Mode and a Battle mode with Time, Stock, and Sports (complete with balls and goals), there’s just some online play to take things online. Rollback netcode is definitely a huge plus, with competitive play, quick play, and online lobbies. Time will tell if it catches on, but its suite options does get the job done. Outside of that, there’s also a gallery with unlockable items, a jukebox, and the chance to look over replay data.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl attempts to follow the Super Smash Bros. formula, but it just doesn’t take things far enough. There’s a general lack of polish to its presentation and its physics, making it hard for even the most diehard Nicktoons fan to get engaged. Not even Nigel Thornberry and his smashing antics can save this platform fighter.

This review of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was done on the PC. The game was purchased digitally.
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Casey Scheld

Drawn to the underground side of gaming, Casey helps the lesser known heroes of video games. If you’ve never heard of it, he’s mastered it.
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