Fair Play Labs and Ludocity's Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is the new platform fighter on the block, taking on the likes of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with its own spin on the classic formula. It bundles an expansive roster of classic Nickelodeon characters with a solid gameplay system that could rival its peers. There's a surprising level of depth that's still newcomer friendly as well, but All-Star Brawl has a significant flaw in its presentation which keeps it from being easily recommended.
Looks Sometimes Are Everything
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl isn't too fancy in the graphics department, but it does justice to each character, with only minor differences between their Brawl appearance and how they look in the original show.
More than just cartoon characters, these familiar faces could be childhood heroes, favored villains and relatable people of the player's generation who would players love to be as in a game. The chance to play these characters in a zany platform fighter is what Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl offers to its audience, and it works on more than one level.
The developers put extra effort in the movesets so every character has attacks that match their personalities. Each attack coming from characters from the jolly Spongebob Squarepants, wildlife expert Nigel Thornberry, and up to the Team Avatar characters all do something that they would likely do in their original series, whether it's blowing bubbles at foes or attacking with animal-like moves.
It's fun and elevates Brawl from being just another generic fighter game. It's entertaining for everyone, but also gives competitive and casual players who value self-expression in fighting games a chance to make characters their own. The developers did well in this designing the fighters in this game.
Aside from the characters, the game's menus and Heads-Up Displays are clean and effective. The simple menus help players to immediately find the game modes and options in the game. The menu design is also compact and intuitive, so players can easily set up matches for solo or multiplayer without having to fight against the menus first.
Speaking of platform fighter fans and beginners, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a treat to play with thanks to all of its accessible tools. Players have shortcut buttons which make platform mobility easier, particularly with the Dash macro and Strafe buttons.
By design, blocking in the air while holding a movement direction will make your character dash. This move can be repeated again after landing which can help players mimic the high level mobility seen in professional platform fighters.
On the other end, you also get the Strafe button. This locks a character's look toward the left or right, so you can position some attacks easily without the blisteringly fast inputs needed to force the attack to behave that way.
There's a ton of other fun features, such as air taunting that causes a forced knockdown and unique projectile interactions with attacks.. Unlike some fighting games, you can actually return projectiles by hitting them at your opponent. Each hit return will level up these projectiles to go faster and hit harder as they help out the hitter instead. Alternatively, players can also grab projectiles out of the air and throw or drop it anywhere they see fit.
These add a surprising amount of depth to each fight and even allows beginners to quickly breeze through the basic and advanced techniques, plus it's just fun.
Still Not Quite Enough
The glaring flaw for Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is its lack of voice work for its characters. Regardless of whether a character is throwing out attacks or getting hurt, every fight feels flat thanks to the odd silence. The sound effects from the hits are fine, but they just don't cut it.
In a way, the lack of voicework is inexcusable for the colorful roster that this fighter has to offer for players. However, the effort to add voicework to this game could have pushed the game's development to finish at a later date due, or kept it from launching at all, thanks to the copyright and intellectual property rights involved. That's not even getting into the John Kricfalusi controversy connected with Ren and Stimpy.
Hopefully the developers add some kind of voice work at a later date. As of the game's release, though, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl suffers from a severe lack of character personality and feels bland because of it.
All-Star Brawl is by no means a bad fighting game. Outside some unique combat possibilities and welcome accessibility options for newcomers, it's just stifled by its own blandness. If these problems are fixed, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl has a shot at climbing the ranks and competing with the other, more established, games in the ring.
[Note: The writer purchased a Steam copy of the game for the purposes of this review game was reviewed through a copy bought from Steam.]