Okay, let’s get the elephant out of the room – is Nickelodeon All Star Brawl a blatant reskin of Super Smash Bros.? Yes, although I’m pretty sure you knew the answer to that anyway. But at the same time, it does a contain a few unique quirks that make it stand out JUST enough.
Simple, Yet In-Depth Fighting Mechanics
One of these quirks being that you can lock your character’s run into a particular direction, granting you a bit more freedom to glide around the battlefield with unrestrained movement, which is a nice touch. Another aspect I found very enjoyable was how light and heavy attacks could be activated in mid-air. You know how smash attacks in Smash Bros. are purely a ground-based thing? Well, Nickelodeon All Star Brawl actually lets you smack enemies in the air with some pretty devastating launch potential, leading to some intense aerial bouts.
The game in general does have its own flavour for sure, but it can take a bit of getting used to. For example, if you press up in Smash Bros. to jump, you’ll need to adjust to double-tapping button presses. You also can’t fall through platforms like in regular Smash, which in the beginning, did have me randomly crouching around the stage a lot for no particular reason.
That all being said, the overall mechanics of Nickelodeon All Star Brawl are very well-constructed. I’ve already seen a couple of pro Smash players gush about this title, and it’s easy to see why. The game’s design makes it so simple to pick up and play – probably even faster than Smash Bros. to be honest – and for the elite gamer community, there’s a tonne of combo opportunities and technical aspects that they can really sink their teeth into. You can even record entire matches at the press of a button. Plus, the frame-by-frame and hit-box toggles in training mode in particular, act as great tools for improving a player’s skill.
The Empty Space of Nickelodeon All Star Brawl
Moving over to the other game modes… And there isn’t much, to be honest. Battle mode just has the classic 1v1’s, free-for-all and team battles, but there’s no items at all here or any of that super sudden death-type of customisation that we’ve come to expect from the Smash Bros. series. No changing the stages to a battlefield or final destination map, no character colour picker, no advanced rule sets – none of that stuff.
The only consolation is a Sports mode, which has you and the opposition trying to whack a ball through a goal at either ends of the stage, but this gets old pretty fast. Arcade mode is just like in Smash, where the player faces off against a series of opponents, with one epic final showdown at the end. Except this time, there’s no big boss like Master Hand or Giga Bowser to be found – bit of a missed opportunity there. Good thing the online battles work well and maintain a solid connection throughout, although that’s basically it in terms of game modes.
What’s even worse is that nobody talks or even so much as grunts during battle, which means Nigel doesn’t even say “smashing!” when you get a clean knock-out! That just sucks. The presentation overall just isn’t as good as the series it’s taking inspiration from, which does make Nickelodeon All Star Brawl seem a bit lifeless at times. And with only 20 characters on the roster at this time of writing, with no hidden unlocks – at least from what I’ve seen – it kind of feels a bit lacking in the representation department. The characters are fun to play and unique though, we just need more of them, Nickelodeon. Hopefully there’s some extra DLC fighters added in at a later date.
Nickelodeon All Star Brawl is at the very least worth checking out, purely just to see Nigel Thornberry take on Danny Phantom. The fighting mechanics are great and I could definitely see this game being played competitively for a long time, maybe even at tournaments like EVO. But for the casual audience though, it might start to lose its lustre sooner rather than later, since the classic battle modes don’t offer much else in the way of customisation or variety. I’d still recommend checking it out, but after all’s been said and done – Smash Bros. Ultimate still reigns supreme.
Nickelodeon All Star Brawl is an easy to approach brawler in the same vein as Super Smash Bros. Whilst it does have some extremely intricate mechanics and technical aspects for high-level gamers to get stuck into, the average player may find it’s lack of core game modes and party-style options a major cause for concern.
This game was reviewed using a download code provided by Maximum Games. The Beta Network uses affiliate partnerships, however, this does not influence reviews or any other content published. The Beta Network may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links that are on the website.