Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Is No 'Melee'
Get it? Because Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is not 'Melee', it's a 'Brawl'! Okay, It will be physically impossible to dumb down the Smash puns so I apologize in advance. Developed by Ludosity and Fair Play Labs, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl should not have had the traction it did months leading up to it. The developers, especially Ludosity who released an earlier "Smash clone" with Slap City, were passionate about the project. The initial teaser trailer generated buzz and hype on social media. Suddenly, many memes and speculations on who would join the roster would come forth.
Unfortunately, there's a saying that says "If you come at the king, you best not miss." The "king," of course being Super Smash Bros Ultimate and the ongoing buzz with its final character. The release of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl just happened to coincide with the announcement and as we know, it ended up being Sora. For such a major announcement, one would think that any and all hype for NASB would be silenced. Fortunately for the developers and publishers involved, the game proved to hold its own. Is it enough to stand side-by-side with its inspiration? Or is imitation just false flattery?
"Come See My Spongebob Bro"
No matter who ended up as a roster spot, it was going to be absurd to see characters like Catdog vs Helga or Aang vs Reptar. With twenty characters (and two more on the way) as the base roster, the roster still seemed "too small" from fans of Nickelodeon. Many series including Doug and Fairly Odd Parents were notably missing, yet the concept of future DLC doesn't rule these possibilities out. Each character is unique, with references to memes and events from their respective shows.
An example of this is Spongebob, whose attacks reference the "I-M-A-GIN-A-TION" hand movement. References to his obsession with jellyfishing and the first episode (the one with the flying spatula) are also present. Even his taunt, which is a reference to his "long face meme" made it in the game. Patrick, who is one of this game's grapplers, references the "NO THIS IS PATRICK!" phone slam.
Fun With Others, Lacking Content Elsewhere
With how easy it is to pick up and play, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is flawless in running at a smooth 60 fps. Its cartoon graphics also mesh well in high fidelity, never looking tacked on or too much. The problem begins when the game modes come into play. Or rather, the lack thereof. In total, there's an arcade mode, a "battle" mode with a minigame spinoff, and an "extras" mode. The latter shows character moves, gallery, and other unlockable goodies that the player earns through winning in Arcade mode. Upon completion in arcade mode, the player unlocks several gallery pieces relating to their character, stage, and bonus material.
Battle mode consists of Stocks, Timed, and a bonus mode titled "Sports." Of these, "Sports" is the most unique mode as players in teams have the objective to shoot the ball in the designated goal with attacks. The game mode is charming and nostalgic, bringing me back to Tekken Ball mode in Tekken 3. Aside from an online mode, that's it. These are all the game modes available in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl.
NASB's Gameplay Is Fun Despite Its Glaring Low Points
Aside from the very barebones experience that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl provides, the game lacks any sort of voice dubbing for any of the characters. What good is everything that I mentioned about character references if there are no character voices to accompany them? The only sounds that exist are punching, kicking, and random sound effect noises. The only voice is the announcer himself who occasionally chimes in with events going on in the match.
Overall, Nickelodeon All-Star Battle is a good game, and only a few notches shy from "great." Considering how low of the totem pole licensed games have been recently, like The Addams Family: Mansion Mayhem, this is a huge compliment. Notably, it's the soul that's missing from NASB that prevents it from being a great game. I'd imagine playing the game with others will make this a blast, but it's just jarring not to hear Reptar at least growl or Sandy going "HAI YAH!" or something! Regardless, find some friends who are willing to play and NASB is a fun night. I'm sure the FGC will also have some fun with this as well.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is available on the PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Switch.