Following in the footsteps of cross-platform fighters like Super Smash Bros. and Cartoon Network: Typing Time Explosion, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl brings together colorful characters from various Nickelodeon properties. Characters of Sponge Bob SquarePants, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The noisy house, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987), The Ren & Stimpy Showand many more engage in battle through multiple stages.
Developed by Ludosity and Fair Play Labs, and published by GameMill Entertainment, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was released on October 5, 2021 on Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStations 4 and 5, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl official trailer
At a glance, the visual style is simple yet colorful, befitting a game featuring multiple Nickelodeon characters in a massive crossover. Although the game was developed on a smaller budget compared to mainstream titles, I think the aesthetic works to the game’s advantage. The character models also translate very well from traditional 2D to CGI, retaining even the “tricked angle” in characters like Jenny and Danny. Some artistic liberties were taken from the source material, such as canonical character sizes, but these can be forgiven to maintain playability.
The stages are also well designed, capturing the spirit of the shows they represent. Character cameos also add flavor and life to scenes, so the energy doesn’t just come out of characters actively fighting. However, it’s unfortunate that the soundtracks from the original show aren’t being used, likely due to the legal procedures required for the developers to get permission to use them.
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It is clear that the developers behind Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl are fans of Super Smash Bros., and as such, comparisons between the two games are inevitable. Although there are similarities between the two, there are distinctions in how the two games work. Contrary to Super Smash Bros.characters in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl only have one level of walking/running speed, can back up and dash through the air, to name a few differences. One game’s muscle memory can trip players up with the other.
While the AI issues a fair challenge on harder difficulties, it does have the occasional misjudgment. Sometimes, when the computer is standing on a platform or ledge directly above the player, the player may stand still for several seconds without the computer doing anything.
Most of the steps of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl provide a fair battleground for the characters, but I think the most troublesome thing is Space Madness. Not only is the whole floor a bottomless pit, but all the platforms are constantly moving and will sink if a character stays on them for too long. Toph players will find this stage quite boring, especially when the platforms are too small for her two powerful attacks to cover the ground. Quite often, the best bet to win against the computer player in Space Madness is to hope the AI makes a mistake. Glove World faces a similar scenario with only small platforms for safety and roller stage danger.
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As it is a cross between several Nickelodeon properties, the playable roster consists of several iconic characters. While there are clear choices such as SpongeBob SquarePants, Aang, and Lincoln Loud, the developers made some creative choices with other characters. Not all of the properties depicted had their central protagonists as playable characters, but the choices make sense with what’s established in the source material, especially with Oblina (she’s the top scary in her school) and Helga Pataki. (she is quick to fight, whereas Arnold never resorts to violence in conflicts). The smart roster selection even has the positive side effect of diversity with its female characters, in design and personality.
Seeing the characters in action, the characters show a lot of personality in the way they move and train with their opponents. As with the scenes, there’s great attention to detail as nearly every move references an episode of the character’s show. Patrick Star and Nigel Thornberry, in particular, demonstrate developer awareness of Internet memes without appearing to pander desperately to specific audiences. The addition of voice acting in the June update enhanced the energetic nature of the gameplay, with returning actors alongside newcomers, who provided strong performances in their roles.
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That being said, it would have been nicer if the Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl the characters had more alternate costumes and voices. Currently, each character only has one alternate costume; in multiplayer matches with more than two people playing the same character, it becomes difficult to distinguish which character one is controlling. Pre-fight dialogue is also limited to each character’s personal streak lines, limiting any possibility of the characters’ personalities bouncing off each other.
Globally, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is an entertaining experience that brings Nickelodeon fans new and old together with colorful characters and energetic gameplay. Although there may be some rough edges, they don’t detract much from the enjoyment. At the time of writing, the game is still receiving updates, with more characters and quality of life additions on the way. If you’re a fan of cross-platform hunters and Nickelodeon, then this might be the game for you. Let us know what you thought Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl on our social networks!
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