Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review – Children’s Playground
The nicest part about Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is that it created a lot of discussions even before it was released on any system. The game was getting a lot of positive social media buzz because of its notion of taking the Smash Bros. premise and applying it to a different IP. This is not a novel concept, and many other games, like the famous free-to-play Brawlhalla, have attempted it in the past. Nonetheless, the game promised to be entertaining, even if it would never reach the heights of the arena brawler genre achieved by Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
A comparison was always going to be unavoidable after the game’s release. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, in my view, is far too simplistic for its good. It lacks the sophistication of gameplay mechanics found in games like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It tries to disguise its inadequacies behind a cast full of nostalgia for kids who grew up in the 1990s and are now grownups. It succeeds at least on the nostalgia front, with a lineup that is diverse but also entertaining. It checks the box for including the majority of fan favorites on its roster but keeps the door open for more to be added in the future (or in a sequel).
The game itself isn’t horrible, but it’s severely lacking in material. Characters such as Leonardo, Spongebob, Aang, and even some quirky cast members such as Nigel Thornberry, Reptar, and Oblina are on the roster. It is intended to satiate the yearning of fans who grew up watching these characters and can now have a game starring them in a structure that roughly approaches that of the Smash Bros. flair. But all of this is a concept that is implemented with less care and attention than we have seen with Sakurai’s recent work, which was always to be expected.
My dissatisfaction with the game has nothing to do with its character roster or the battle system’s lack of depth. The whole presentation was lacking in my opinion. The primary interface was basic, and the selection of gaming modes was boring. You had an arcade option where you could choose a character and fight your way through stages until you clear the last stage. You don’t get much fun out of a mode where your character sets the CPU level and the gameplay is already flawed enough that you can easily win most of the battles. The lack of challenge in arcade mode and a feeling of purpose makes it difficult to recommend if you are only purchasing the game for offline play.
There are some attempts to liven up the gameplay with a soccer mode. This allows you to score goals by kicking or punching a ball in the center of the stage to a circle in the opposing team’s end. The disadvantage of this style is that the physics is terrible. This game winds up being more of a game of chance than of skill. Because the ball mechanics are harsh, even if you deliver accurate punches, they will not always land on a score for you. It’s a goofy game mode that, like the arcade mode, is an attempt to stretch the game’s content.
The game’s main attraction is its vs mode. You have the option of playing local multiplayer or taking your competition online. Ranked matches are also supported, however, I’m not sure if it was just me or if the player count on the Nintendo Switch is low, but it was difficult to locate matches online. As a result, if I were to give the game a rating, it would be based only on the vs mode with offline play. It lacks a lot of elements and content to keep you interested in this regard. Because the characters are simplistic, you can quickly grasp their quirks, and the lack of depth in gameplay ensures you won’t have to. You may just repeat a crucial technique to power your way through every encounter.
To give the devs some credit, the stages are quite beautifully done. They are styled after the many shows from which the game takes its characters. If you’ve seen them, you’ll recognize the stages, such as Cat Dog’s house on the cliff. Another significant point to highlight is that the character movements are well-executed. Cat Dog, for example, can use a Super Dog attack that long-time fans will remember. It was great to watch characters like Aang and Leonardo excel at what they do best, as well as Patrick and Oblina use their special moves inspired by their shows in the game.
Is it still a game I suggest to newcomers? This question is dependent on how much you like the Nickelodeon characters and how high you are on nostalgia. It’s entertaining if you can find someone to play it with offline, but if you want to play the game as an offline fighting game, forget about it. It isn’t very interesting or comprehensive enough to maintain your attention for an extended period.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Game Information
- Price: $49.99
- Publisher: Fair Play Labs
- Developer: GameMill Entertainment
- Platform: Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher