The thought of a Super Smash Bros.-style platform fighter that brings collectively a few of Nickelodeon’s most beloved cartoons throughout a number of generations is one which simply makes a lot sense, and it’s sort of a marvel that it’s taken this lengthy for one thing like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl to come back round. However regardless of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’s clear inspirations, developer Ludosity has made a notable effort to distinguish its mechanics and the general circulate of fight from Smash Bros., leading to a fighter that’s means quicker than any Smash recreation has been since Melee in 2001. This places All-Star Brawl in an amazing spot as a substitute for Smash Final that’s accessible on virtually each platform – however its subpar use of its wealth of supply materials, together with a normal lack of polish and some irksome mechanics, does imply it’s not a advice that comes and not using a few important caveats.
The very first thing that comes throughout whereas enjoying All-Star Brawl is that this looks like a recreation made on a reasonably tight finances. The character fashions and backgrounds lack element, the unique themes made for every stage are extraordinarily generic, there’s only one barebones single-player arcade mode, a barely value mentioning Sports activities Mode, and 0 significant unlockables or development rewards exterior of some photos and songs in a jukebox. However maybe essentially the most damning factor of all is that, regardless of being a recreation all about celebrating Nickelodeon’s best, there’s little or no Nickelodeon attraction that comes by way of. There’s no voice appearing, no remixes of any themes from the various cartoons featured, and whereas the phases are affected by enjoyable Easter eggs for followers to find, all of it simply feels sort of soulless.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Screenshots
It’s a formidable come-from-behind victory, then, that All-Star Brawl continues to be actually enjoyable to truly play. It follows the identical fundamental system as different platform fighters by eradicating life bars in favor of harm percentages: the extra you get hit, the upper your injury proportion and the additional you’ll go flying from each hit till you’re KO’d by an opponent knocking you off the stage (except you activate vital KOs). This implies two key issues: you possibly can doubtlessly be killed after taking hardly any injury, or you could possibly survive even after taking an infinite quantity of punishment. It’s a extremely thrilling fashion of motion the place it feels such as you at all times have an opportunity to make a miraculous comeback even in case you’re down a number of lives.
This fashion of preventing recreation actually comes alive in a celebration atmosphere with as much as three pals, and All-Star Brawl isn’t any completely different. It’s tremendous straightforward to select up, be given minimal directions on easy methods to play, and have time no matter your expertise stage. That mentioned, the builders are clearly large Smash followers themselves, as a result of they’ve designed the deeper mechanics behind that approachable coat of paint with extra hardcore followers of these video games in thoughts.
The place All-Star Brawl units itself aside is primarily in its motion. It’s exceptionally fast-paced, facilitated by excessive run speeds, speedy recoveries on most assaults, and its distinctive air sprint that features as a restoration choice, a wavedash, and a fastfall multi function. The air sprint lets you sprint left and proper for a fast, substantial enhance of horizontal momentum which you could nonetheless carry out actions out of, or in any route downwards for a fair bigger burst of velocity. The draw back is that it’s particularly an air sprint, and never an air dodge, which signifies that there’s no invulnerability frames throughout it.
It’s a trade-off value making although. I like the additional mobility given to each character because of this distinctive tackle the normal air-dodge mechanic. It permits for unpredictable approaches, drastically aids characters who would in any other case battle immensely with their recoveries when making an attempt to get again to the stage after an enormous hit, and works as an amazing device to play thoughts video games along with your opponent and preserve them guessing at what you may do.
There are additionally quite a lot of smaller mechanical variations that assist additional set up All-Star Brawl’s identification within the platform fighter style. There’s no rolling or spot dodging, so the one technique to keep away from taking injury if you find yourself hit is by blocking or negating the assault with one in all your personal; as an alternative of Smash assaults, there are robust assaults which may be carried out within the air; and each character has a throw that enables them to select their opponent up and transfer them round earlier than tossing them (except the opponent is ready to mash out of their grasp).
Whereas I respect a lot of the methods All-Star Brawl tries to be completely different, I’m not a fan of all of its mechanics. I particularly don’t like that every one characters have mainly the identical throw, nor do I actually just like the throw mechanics typically. It appears janky, it’s too straightforward to mash out of at low percentages, and looks like an affordable KO at excessive percentages. However worst of all, not giving distinctive animations for every character on their throws looks like a missed alternative so as to add some extra persona to every movelist, whereas additionally additional diversifying their playstyles. .
There’s No Toon Like a Nicktoon
They could not look fairly adequate to actually flood my mind with nostalgia chemical compounds, however All-Star Brawl’s solid of characters is basically nice from a design perspective. It’s a wholesome mixture of some apparent “necessities” and attention-grabbing oddballs which may not instantly spring to thoughts once you consider iconic Nicktoons, however find yourself being fairly impressed selections – like Nigel Thornberry, whose eccentric moveset entails him mimicking assaults and poses of varied animals to hilarious impact.
There are positively some obvious omissions, like several characters from Rocko’s Fashionable Life, Indignant Beavers, or the Pretty Oddparents simply to call a couple of, however all-in-all, this can be a pretty admirable beginning roster of 20 characters that primarily covers an honest unfold of Nicktoons from the ‘90s to the early 2000s. There are classics like Rugrats and Hey Arnold, megahits from the 2000s like Avatar: The Final Airbender and The Legend of Korra, after which The Loud Home as the only real consultant of contemporary Nicktoons.
Every fighter performs identical to you’d anticipate they might. My private favourite, Avatar’s Aang, has weak total energy, however can chain his mild airbending assaults collectively at just about any proportion and turns into an absolute combo machine. Reptar performs the function of the Bowser-like beast with gradual assaults that may ship you packing with only one or two robust assaults near the sting. In the meantime, Lucy Loud modifications into both a vampire or ghost type every time she connects together with her chew assault, which alters the properties of a few of her strikes. I do want that not each character had a spike transfer on their aerial light-down assault since – it’s such a strong finisher that giving it to characters who’re already tremendous robust looks like overkill – and a few characters have strikes which are eyebrow-raisingly near what’s present in Smash Bros. – however apart from these points all people on the roster feels fairly distinct from each other.
What doesn’t really feel distinct is when a number of folks choose the identical character. For no matter motive, there are not any alternate colours or costumes for any of the characters. In the event you’re enjoying with 4 Reptars, the one factor that distinguishes you out of your opponents is the small icon above every one, which might make it arduous to determine who you might be at a right away look, particularly in bigger phases.
Every character comes with their very own stage, a complete of 20 in all, which is a reasonably respectable variety of arenas… besides when you think about that the variety of phases you’ll truly need to go to might be a lot decrease than that. Whether or not you’re enjoying competitively or casually, a lot of the gimmicky phases simply aren’t enjoyable to battle on. You’re typically going up towards the stage greater than you’re going up towards your folks as you attempt to sustain with quickly shifting tiny platforms within the House Insanity stage or keep away from curler coaster automobiles on the 2 strong bits of land within the Glove World stage, simply to call two irritating examples. A majority of these ranges aren’t something new, however they don’t have the sort of visible spectacle that makes that form of sacrifice value it.
The handful of phases which are value enjoying on are those you’ve most likely come to anticipate. Comparatively flat and easy stand-ins for Smash’s iconic Ultimate Vacation spot, Battlefield, Smashville, and so forth. That mentioned, whereas a lot of the gimmick ranges are a nightmare, there are a couple of that may be fairly enjoyable given the fitting circumstances. The Showdown at Teeter Totter Gulch stage from Rugrats is a private favourite of mine as a result of its teetering central platform isn’t too intrusive and gives a pleasant change of tempo. And although it’s a bit of too arduous to get kills on due to its huge measurement, the Powdered Toast Bother stage is filled with enjoyable interactables and Ren and Stimpy Easter eggs.
Maybe the key weapon of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is its on-line play with rollback netcode, which in my expertise has been comparatively easy for essentially the most half. There actually have been unhealthy matches, particularly on sure ranges just like the Rooftop Rumble stage, which I’ve had quite a few points with whereas enjoying on-line, however the overwhelming majority of my on-line matches have been with none points. It’s positively no Responsible Gear Attempt when it comes to the standard of its netcode, however on the very least, it’s adequate the place I can comfortably say that that is the one space the place All-Star Brawl has a transparent benefit over Smash Final.