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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Review – Almost Ready For Slime Time

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To say that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is fighting an uphill battle is an understatement. He firmly wears his Super Smash Bros. inspiration. up his sleeve by bringing together a host of beloved characters in a platform fighter, but Nick Brawl does it without the show. While I think he’s got a lot of heart and is a good fighting game to begin with, All-Star Brawl lacks the magic and wonder that Smash Bros. embodies and lacks significant casual appeal.

All-Star Brawl brings together different eras of Nickelodeon cartoons to fight on scenes based on scenes and locations from various Nicktoons. The list is not complete, but it is sufficiently diverse and touches several notable eras through its 20 characters. Familiar faces like Ren and Stimpy and RugratsReptar mixes it all up with Nigel Thornberry, Zim and Danny Phantom. Current favorites like Lincoln and Lucy Loud hold the fort for the new toons. Yet the cast also has a few notable big names: Spongebob Squarepants and Friends, a handful of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Avatar duo Aang and Korra bring much-loved star power to the mix.

My favorite part of Nick Brawl is the way he plays. You have buttons to jump, attack, special moves, throws and block. Your goal is to hit your opponents and increase their damage percentage, making them more likely to fly off the screen when hit with a heavy attack. The characters move quickly, which made me worry that I might not always feel in control, but the quick and responsive inputs alleviated those concerns in practice. Advanced techniques like wavedashing are surprisingly easy to perform, and thanks to the faster tempo, performing combos on the fly is a snap.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl’s combat basics make the experience enjoyable, but there’s not much to fight other than the basics. A standard arcade mode with no story and training is the only single player content available. Arcade Mode rewards you with unlockable artwork and music to listen to in the Jukebox, but unlocking that content didn’t seem meaningful. You can also face up to three CPU friends or opponents in custom timed matches or battles where each player has a set number of lives.

These fights reveal Nick Brawl’s biggest downside, and it’s a lack of significant party content; you won’t find any items or weapons to use in combat here. Since its gameplay places a heavy emphasis on quick reflexes and masterful character control skills, I sorely missed having outrageous gadgets to level the playing field for new or casual players. The stages offer additional personality thanks to the Nickelodeon licenses and turn the battles upside down. Each stage takes place in the world of a Nicktoon and contains a range of moving platforms and obstacles to keep players on their toes. These locations look great and provide much needed flavor. Some of my favorites include the Hi Arnold-Inspired Traffic Jam (which features an excellent relaxing saxy melody) and The Flying Dutchman’s Ship by Spongebob.

The closest party mechanic to All-Star Brawl is a Sports Mode, a slightly fun feature that splits the contestants into two teams where the objective is to hit or throw a ball through goals placed around the stage. Soccer balls only react to attacks, the plankton-themed ball is heavier and moves slower, and a soccer ball with a hat on – a nice nod to the head of Hi Arnold – interacts exclusively with the movements of grabbing and throwing. Sport mode isn’t a very exciting diversion from the usual punch fare, but it’s there if you want to try something different.

You can participate in online battles in 1v1 competition or quick match scenarios, and 12-player lobbies where players can engage in individual 2-4 player matches. The seat to watch the fights is a fantastic addition for tournament organizers or those who want to watch friends brawl for a while. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl features a restore netcode, designed to smooth out animation while playing online. However, this implementation is pretty rough. Half of my head-to-head matches had a lot of freezes and stutters outside of the normal restore frame range. Sometimes revenge on someone with a great connection resulted in a nervous and slowed down mess; this has happened several times while reading online. The four-player brawls brought out the worst in online gaming, with even more blocking and logging issues. I’ve managed to have quite a few good games with little to no issues, but your mileage may vary online.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a complicated package. His basic combat and attention to character detail is great, but everything around him is dry. Playing like these adorable Nicktoons may interest some, but I didn’t want to stick around for no-frills matches. Hopefully, Ludosity and Fair Play Labs can continue to add to Nick Brawl after launch and flesh out what’s missing while gaining full Nickelodeon support to make it a better product for fans.

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