The concept 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 surprise that it’s taken this lengthy for one thing like Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl to come back round. But 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 method sooner than any Smash sport has been since Melee in 2001. This places All-Star Brawl in an excellent spot as a substitute for Smash Ultimate that’s accessible on virtually each platform – however its subpar use of its wealth of supply materials, together with a basic lack of polish and some irksome mechanics, does imply it’s not a suggestion that comes with out a few vital caveats.
The very first thing that comes throughout whereas taking part in All-Star Brawl is that this seems like a sport made on a reasonably tight price range. The character fashions and backgrounds lack element, the unique themes made for every stage are extraordinarily generic, there’s only one barebones single-participant arcade mode, a barely price mentioning Sports Mode, and nil significant unlockables or development rewards exterior of some pictures and songs in a jukebox. But maybe essentially the most damning factor of all is that, regardless of being a sport all about celebrating Nickelodeon’s best, there’s little or no Nickelodeon attraction that comes by means of. There’s no voice performing, no remixes of any themes from the various cartoons featured, and whereas the phases are suffering from enjoyable Easter eggs for followers to find, all of it simply feels sort of soulless.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Screenshots
It’s a powerful come-from-behind victory, then, that All-Star Brawl remains to be actually enjoyable to truly play. It follows the identical fundamental system as different platform fighters by eradicating life bars in favor of injury percentages: the extra you get hit, the upper your harm 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 important KOs). This means two key issues: you’ll be able to probably be killed after taking hardly any harm, or you might survive even after taking an infinite quantity of punishment. It’s a very thrilling fashion of motion the place it feels such as you at all times have an opportunity to make a miraculous comeback even if you happen to’re down a number of lives.
This fashion of preventing sport actually comes alive in a celebration setting with as much as three associates, and All-Star Brawl isn’t any totally different. It’s tremendous straightforward to select up, be given minimal directions on tips on how to play, and have a great time no matter your expertise stage. That stated, the builders are clearly enormous 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.
Where All-Star Brawl units itself aside is primarily in its motion. It’s exceptionally quick-paced, facilitated by excessive run speeds, speedy recoveries on most assaults, and its distinctive air sprint that capabilities as a restoration possibility, a wavedash, and a fastfall multi functional. The air sprint permits you to sprint left and proper for a fast, substantial enhance of horizontal momentum that you would be able to nonetheless carry out actions out of, or in any route downwards for a good bigger burst of velocity. The draw back is that it’s particularly an air sprint, and never an air dodge, which implies that there’s no invulnerability frames throughout it.
It’s a commerce-off price making although. I really like the additional mobility given to each character because of this distinctive tackle the normal air-dodge mechanic. It permits for unpredictable approaches, significantly aids characters who would in any other case battle immensely with their recoveries when making an attempt to get again to the stage after a giant hit, and works as an excellent software to play thoughts video games together with your opponent and hold them guessing at what you would possibly do.
There are additionally quite a lot of smaller mechanical variations that assist additional set up All-Star Brawl’s id within the platform fighter style. There’s no rolling or spot dodging, so the one strategy to keep away from taking harm when you’re hit is by blocking or negating the assault with one in every of your individual; as an alternative of Smash assaults, there are robust assaults which will 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).
While I recognize a lot of the methods All-Star Brawl tries to be totally different, I’m not a fan of all of its mechanics. I particularly don’t like that each one characters have mainly the identical throw, nor do I actually just like the throw mechanics basically. It seems janky, it’s too straightforward to mash out of at low percentages, and seems like an affordable KO at excessive percentages. But worst of all, not giving distinctive animations for every character on their throws seems 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 ok to actually flood my mind with nostalgia chemical substances, however All-Star Brawl’s solid of characters is essentially nice from a design viewpoint. It’s a wholesome mixture of some apparent “necessities” and attention-grabbing oddballs that may not instantly spring to thoughts once you consider iconic Nicktoons, however find yourself being fairly impressed decisions – like Nigel Thornberry, whose eccentric moveset entails him mimicking assaults and poses of assorted animals to hilarious impact.
There are positively some obtrusive omissions, like every characters from Rocko’s Modern Life, Angry Beavers, or the Fairly Oddparents simply to call a couple of, however all-in-all, it is a pretty admirable beginning roster of 20 characters that primarily covers a good 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 Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, after which The Loud House as the only consultant of recent Nicktoons.
Each fighter performs identical to you’d count on they’d. 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 position of the Bowser-like beast with sluggish assaults that may ship you packing with only one or two robust assaults near the sting. Meanwhile, Lucy Loud adjustments into both a vampire or ghost type each time she connects along 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 mild-down assault since – it’s such a robust finisher that giving it to characters who’re already tremendous robust seems like overkill – and a few characters have strikes which are eyebrow-raisingly near what’s present in Smash Bros. – however other than these points everyone 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 purpose, there aren’t any alternate colours or costumes for any of the characters. If you’re taking part in with 4 Reptars, the one factor that distinguishes you out of your opponents is the small icon above every one, which might make it laborious to determine who you’re at a direct look, particularly in bigger phases.
Each 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 really need to go to might be a lot decrease than that. Whether you’re taking part in competitively or casually, a lot of the gimmicky phases simply aren’t enjoyable to struggle on. You’re typically going up towards the stage greater than you’re going up towards your mates as you attempt to sustain with quickly shifting tiny platforms within the Space Madness 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. These forms of ranges aren’t something new, however they don’t have the sort of visible spectacle that makes that kind of sacrifice price it.
The handful of phases which are price taking part in on are those you’ve most likely come to count on. Relatively flat and simple stand-ins for Smash’s iconic Final Destination, Battlefield, Smashville, and so forth. That stated, whereas a lot of the gimmick ranges are a nightmare, there are a couple of that may be fairly enjoyable given the correct 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 offers a pleasant change of tempo. And although it’s a bit too laborious to get kills on due to its huge dimension, the Powdered Toast Trouble stage is full of enjoyable interactables and Ren and Stimpy Easter eggs.
Perhaps 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 taking part in on-line, however the overwhelming majority of my on-line matches have been with none points. It’s positively no Guilty Gear Strive when it comes to the standard of its netcode, however on the very least, it’s ok the place I can comfortably say that that is the one space the place All-Star Brawl has a transparent benefit over Smash Ultimate.