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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review

The “platform fighter” genre isn’t exactly over-saturated with games—mainly thanks to the absolute juggernaut that is Super Smash Bros.—so a new addition is always welcome. Enter Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. What better way to pay homage to Nintendo’s beloved brawler than with a cast of familiar characters from 90s and 00s cartoons. But can developers Ludosity & Fair Play Labs match-up to the game that oh-so clearly inspired them? Let’s take a look!


"Who you callin' PINHEAD?"

Unsurprisingly, there is zero story to be found in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl; what you do have in terms of single player content are two modes. First off we have the standard “arcade mode”, a series of seven matches against randomised computer opponents that unlocks a few gallery images and jukebox tracks each time you finish a run through. “Battle” is the second option, which lets players choose from three match types: "Stock", which gives each participant a set number of lives (which decrease as a character is knocked off the battlefield); “Timed”, which gives you unlimited lives and is a race to get the most KOs in the set time; and finally “Sports” mode, a frantic team based match wherein the objective is to score more goals than the opposing side. This was the mode I found myself drawn to the most, with various different balls available—each one handling a different way—I found it an original and gloriously chaotic way to play.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’s 20 playable characters are all faithful 3D renditions of their cartoon counterparts. Only so much can be done to bring them to life within a videogame; however not a single character looked off, each having their own signature moves that fans will be sure to recognise from the shows (Patrick’s butt laser, anyone?) which is a true testament to the attention to detail the developers put in. Stages sadly don’t feel quite as alive. Many of the 20 available—whilst vibrant and colourful—lacked depth and offered little in the way of things happening in the background, not incredibly important when you’re playing a fast-paced brawler, but smaller details are always appreciated.

The audio however is severely underwhelming. None of the characters have any spoken dialogue, which is especially disappointing when you play as someone like Nigel Thornberry for example; who wouldn’t want to hear him yell “SMASHING!” every time he hits an enemy with a special attack? In fact, the characters make no noise at any point in the game, not even a grunt as they’re sent crashing to the floor after an aerial attack. Given the games relatively low budget, it serves to reason that the developers wouldn’t be hiring the original voice actors to reprise their roles, but couldn’t we have had some audio ripped straight from the cartoons?

But what about the music? The themes across the different menu screens were quite catchy, and I’ll admit, more than once I caught myself tapping my foot along with the beat. Don’t expect to hear any licensed music within the levels, the entire game has an original soundtrack. Thankfully, that soundtrack is fantastic. Each stage has its own theme that perfectly encapsulates the show it's based around, Jellyfish Fields being a personal favourite.


"No creature threatens a Thornberry!"

Onto the most important aspect of any game in this genre; how it plays. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl has a very simple control system. You have light, heavy and special attacks (three variations of them depending on which direction is pressed) aerial moves, running attacks and a grab move. You’re also able to taunt, although this doesn’t serve a purpose other than to make your character perform an action that is sure to put a smile on fans' faces. No 10-hit, multi-button pressing combos to be found here, the control layout allows anyone to jump in and give it a try; perfect for having friends over and not having someone go off in a bad mood because you didn’t give them an essay's worth of button commands.

Once you’ve selected a game mode, fighter and a stage to play on, you’ll barely have time to blink due to the constant action on screen. Facing off against up to three other fighters, you need to be constantly on the move to avoid attacks that come in every direction whilst trying to blast your adversaries off the side or top of the screen. If you’ve played a platform fighter before, you’ll know the basics of how to win. Each on-screen avatar has a percentage meter (starting at 0%) that gradually increases the more damage you take. The higher this percentage, the more likely it is that the next hit will send them flying off the stage, although with some clever timing and manoeuvres you’re able to survive just that little bit longer. Even a one-on-one match up is fun to play and still fraught with chaos in what is a surprising battle of skill, especially when facing a human controlled opponent.

What a shame it is then that the online mode, at least at the time of writing this review, was basically dead. This is especially disappointing considering how smooth online matches were. It may have taken a long time to find a random player to face off against, but with no slow down or frame drops in sight, the showdowns were just as fast-paced as a local match. Every encounter against a human controlled opponent was a nail-biting scramble to knock them out of the arena and claim my rightful place as undisputed Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl champion. Unfortunately I was annihilated in six of my seven matches. I lost all of these fair and square though, this is a game that requires practice, even though it may seem simple on the surface. It’s doubtful Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl will be part of any esports tournaments, but don’t expect to be able to jump into matches online and dominate players without first putting the time in to learn a specific character's moves.

7.00/10 7

Nickelodeon All Star Brawl (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl may be basic on the surface, but the exhilarating gameplay and edge of your seat action more than makes up for its lack of content by providing players with a fun platform fighter that rewards those who take the time to learn its surprisingly complex combat mechanics. I just wish online multiplayer was more active (come find me online and let’s fight! I main CatDog).

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Mike Crewe

Mike Crewe

Staff Writer

Bought a PS5 and won't stop talking about it

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