Super Smash Bros. is quite the anomaly in the gaming industry; there aren’t many games quite like it. There have been many attempts to expand Super Smash Bros. into its own genre with titles like Brawlhala or Rivals of Aether but they could never get to the heights of Super Smash Bros due to one thing, the lack of nostalgic and recognisable characters. Coming to us from Ludosity, the developers of fellow Super Smash Bros style Platform Fighter Slap City, is Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. So the question remains as to whether this combination of dedicated and experienced developers, coupled with beloved cartoon franchises, will be enough to give Super Smash Bros a competitor to be frightened of or will it be a 3 stock stomping into oblivion.
A fighting game must have smooth controls to stand up against the competition and you’ll be happy to know that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl has that aspect nailed down. Attacks have impact, movement speed for each character feels appropriate for their sizes and jumping feels natural without feeling too floaty or weighty, everything just feels like it’s supposed to. Oh, and for you high level Super Smash Bros. Melee players, you can in fact wavedash in this game; watching someone like Powdered Toast Man dash dancing around the stage will never not be hilarious.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl differentiates itself by having a button for both light attacks and heavy attacks, along with its special attacks. It was a little confusing at first, especially when coming from years of muscle memory of Super Smash Bros. and the buttons being assigned differently from what I was used to but luckily, you can reassign your buttons however you’d like. Once I did that and got more familiar with the controls, as well as the slight nuances this game has, I ended up enjoying this system way more than Super Smash Bros.’s tilt attacks.
Of course, how could I not mention this game’s online play. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl uses Rollback Netcode! In Layman's terms, Rollback Netcode makes online play much smoother and less laggy than the more traditional Delay-based netcode that a lot of games use. I played quite a few matches against people all around the world and it felt like they were playing with me on my couch, the matches were that smooth.
- Controls feel natural
- Separate light and heavy attack buttons
- ROLLBACK NETCODE!!!
Outside of local and online matches, there really isn’t much to do in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. There is an Arcade mode which works like Super Smash Bros. Classic mode but much shorter and all you get out of it is the ability to listen to the game's soundtrack and online profile customisations.
I’m assuming that due to budget and time restraints, like many other recent Nickelodeon games, the game has no voice acting for the playable characters. The developers have put a lot of love and care into each character's animations to make up for it but the lack of voice acting still makes the characters feel lifeless.
Some stages are just not fun to play on. Some are what you’d expect (like Irken Armada Invasion and Harmonic Convergence which are styled like Super Smash Bros.’s Battlefield and Final Destination respectively) and some fun unique stages like The Loud House or Omashu. But then you have stages like Space Madness, which is just Poké Floats but worse due to the platforms being affected by your character’s weight, preventing you standing on one platform for too long; or Glove World, which is simply a funnel where all the stage hazards direct you into a bottomless pit in its centre.
- Lack of content
- Lack of voice acting
- Infrequently annoying stages
Final Score: 8/10
All in all, despite its flaws, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is more than just a meme like the internet has tried to portray it as. While I don’t think it’ll be able to topple Super Smash Bros. in terms of popularity, with these dedicated developers and the solid ground work they’ve made, this will easily take the number two spot in the genre. Now let’s hope Nickelodeon decides to capitalise on this and let the dev team expand on it.
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