Those looking for a fun experience will likely find it here, but it may be short lived if you aren’t into the game competitively.
Developers: Ludosity & Fair Play Labs
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, PC
When it comes to platform fighters, most people immediately think of the long running Super Smash Brothers series, known for its simple pick up and play nature and assortment of crossover characters battling it out. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl makes no attempt to hide that it is heavily inspired by Smash, and I think that works in favor of the experience. It is a platform fighter with a large focus on competitive play, making it very comparable to Melee by many players.
Nick All-Star Brawl offers a diverse variety of characters and stages from across Nickelodeon history, with a stronger focus on classic cartoons that many of us grew up with. Familiar faces like Spongebob, Aang, Reptar, and even Nigel Thornberry are available to battle it out. The only two characters that older Nick fans may not recognize are Lincoln & Lucy Loud from The Loud House, the most modern property featured in this title. Each character has their own unique move set that all feel different enough from each other without being too challenging to swap between. The simplicity of the moves lends to the great pick up and play nature of the game, rewarding those who want to put the time in to learn the deeper intricacies of the game and its characters.
Some may find the game to be quite competitive, maybe even too competitive for what appears to be a fun brawler with childhood icons. There are many deep mechanics that are present in this game that appeal to the wider platform fighter community. This isn’t a bad thing, but those who want to go online and play some matches may feel that they have no chance when they are up against an opponent who knows game altering mechanics such as wavedashing. There are competitive modes and more casual quickplay lobbies for those who want less sweaty matches. The competitive side of the game gives you a ranking that goes up and down based on wins/losses and is designed to try and match you with similarly skilled opponents.
On the flip side, the casual play can be fun with the right people. The game offers classic timed and stock battles, as well as a sports mode which has players compete to shoot a ball into the opponents goal while dodging attacks from one another. Up to 4 players can play together, and I could see this game being a hit at parties for those looking for a good social experience.
Unfortunately it currently suffers from a lack of other modes, and what’s there is very barebones. There is a single player arcade mode as well, but it offers no real substance and only serves as a way to quickly play against a variety of characters in a row. All characters and stages are unlocked from the moment you launch the game and there are no unlocks other than some art and music, the latter being very mediocre unfortunately. I played most of the game listening to outside audio and had it muted because I found some of the music to be annoying. Another gripe is that there is no voices for any characters, making matches feel very empty.
Those looking for a fun experience will likely find it here, but it may be short lived if you aren’t into the game competitively. A lack of content hurts the experience and without anyone else to play with, I don’t know if I would recommend it. If you enjoy mastering different fighters and playing against others online, I think you’ll enjoy what’s here, and with the developer working on DLC, I can only hope it will continue to improve. The joy of seeing fan favorite childhood heroes duking it out is a fun experience and I’d love to see more franchises represented. What’s here now is a great base of a game that is lacking a bit of content and polish. With the right support, I could see this game lasting for years through constant balance patches and DLC fighters. I’d love nothing more than to see this become a viable game for fighting game community for years to come.