Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl
RRP $ 50.00
“The Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a must for hardcore fans, but it doesn’t care about casual audiences.”
Strong combat mechanics
Tons of player freedom
Good music and pictures
Unpolished in many areas
No speech output
With the announcement of the new Super Smash Bros.-inspired platform fighter Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl There was endless discussion about the game becoming a “smash killer”. While it doesn’t quite live up to these high expectations, it definitely delivers a strong competitive experience and a deep mechanical system that gives hardcore gamers a warm welcome. But in my time with the game, I’ve found that maybe that’s all there is to be done All-star brawl.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a new crossover fighting game from Ludosity, the team behind the critically acclaimed platform fighter Slap City. The game plays some of Nickelodeon’s most iconic and obscure characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Reptar, who are thrown into an arena to face off against each other in Smash Bros. style.
While his main claim to fame is to be “Smash but with Nicktoons” while playing BY DOING, I immediately saw that the game has its own unique identity. The graphics are lively and cartoon-like, the gameplay is free flowing with a high skill limit, and the characters are mostly great fun. However, NASB has some rough spots that kept reminding me that this is a budget title – and one that may have put too many of its eggs in one basket.
Surprisingly complex gameplay
A key element of the fighting game experience is seeing and learning to perform those cool moves, and learning to do cool gameplay moves NASB delivers there. While playing I realized that I kept saying “Wow, can I do that ?!”. Moments while you explore some of the best mechanics Ludosity has implemented into the game.
Similar to the Smash Bros. series, NASB is about going onto a battlefield with one or more opponents and trying to increase their damage percentage to knock them off the stage in a huge explosion. The difference lies in the tools players will need to achieve this goal.
Allow me to get technical for a moment to show how deceptive a fighter this game is. In combat there is a standard thrust, air and ground tilt / light attacks, air and ground shattering / heavy attacks, air and ground specials, light and heavy dash attacks that can dissolve into other attacks, and ground and air attacks. The unique inclusion of heavy air strikes, separate breakable dash attacks, and air grabs adds a fantastic layer to the offense and defense NASB you can’t see that in Smash.
The Combat really shines which makes this a particularly fun fighting game.
NASB also gives players access to an anime hunter-like air dash that can be used to zoom through the air or break out of a low jump to the wavedash (seriously, that’s shockingly complex). This has to be my favorite feature in the game as it gives players freedom of movement when it comes to spacing, combos, mix-ups, defense and more.
I got lost in a sea of ideas about what to do in my playing time. The game offers players so many great tools that offer different ways to play that you end up with a title with an endless pool of learning for players to express themselves.
However, NASB has its rough spots with a few technical oversights here and there, including infinite combos and unbalanced moves like Catdog’s overwhelming aerial-up smash, affectionately known as the “updog” by the community. Still it is Combat really shines which makes this a particularly fun fighting game. And the amazing rollback netcode usually allows ethernet wired players to play as well as possible using these mechanisms, even though they are far apart.
The game is very naked
While I was in for days about the combat system Nickelodeon All-Star Braw The same cannot be said of the rest of the game – probably because combat is really all there is. If you’re looking for a one-to-one Smash Bros. experience look elsewhere because this isn’t it.
NASB has four modes. The first is Combat, a standard offline versus mode that allows up to four players to compete in stock, time, or sports games (the latter involves throwing a ball into the opponent’s goal). There is also standard training, arcade and online with quick play, competitive play and online lobbies. Other than that, there is nothing else to do in the game.
Ironically, for a game based on cartoon characters for children, there isn’t much for this audience.
Yes, the main draw of a fighting game should be fighting, but other modes that casual gamers can take their time in have been an integral part of the genre since the Dreamcast era. NASB seems to have forgotten that. There is no survival mode, no unlockable elements, no mini-games or the like.
Ironically, for a cartoon-based game for children, there isn’t much for this audience, let alone casual gamers who want to play as their childhood favorites. While there’s a lot to chew on for the competition side, the masses are left with tatters, and that just feels misguided for a game like this. I’m not sure if it was budgeting or bad decisions, but I think this game really takes more meat in the bone to stand the test of time with anyone other than the hardcore lot.
A masterpiece that needs to be polished
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl constantly lets you know that this is not a big budget production. One of the big problems a lot of people have with the game is the lack of voice acting. It’s hard to accept that a game with cartoon characters from our childhood doesn’t include their iconic voices.
There are also a few combat mechanics that could use more fine-tuning: Impeachable knockdowns turn into infinite combos, some characters have hard times snapping onto the ledges safely, and certain characters like Patrick just feel unfinished.
Ludosity clearly plans to support the game once it launches, which will enable it to grow.
Fortunately during The Hungrybox Juice Box tournament, one of the developers has stated several times that these mechanical problems will be fixed. In an interview with Game Informer, Ludosity’s CEO Joel Nyström said voice actors are something that could be added across the board along with other planned updates for the game. Ludosity clearly plans to support the game once it launches, which will enable it to grow.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is an incredibly fun time to get over there for its competitive potential. However, your mileage may vary depending on whether you are a casual or a hardcore gamer. The game will be updated in the future so more features can be added, but only over time. Until then, it lacks some key features that hold it back as a casual single-player experience.
How long it will take?
It depends who you are. If you are a competitive gamer you will find yourself losing track of time knowing how much there is to be found in NASB. If you’re only there for the party game or the single player experience, you might want to wait for a price drop.
Is there an alternative?
If you haven’t already, there’s always Smash Bros. Ultimate and their huge roster of fighters, even though their online experience is miles inferior to NASB’s. If you want a super competitive time with as high a skill cap and fun movement options as NASB, you can play Smash Bros. Melee, which now has online features comparable to NASB thanks to a new rollback client via Slippi are.
Should you buy it?
Yes, but it really depends on what you are looking for. It’s not a perfect casual experience, but if you’re a hardcore fight fan looking to work up a sweat online, it’s a must. Beware of buying on the Nintendo Switch, however, as it is the only version without a rollback netcode, which makes the online experience significantly inferior to the other hardware options.