Should’ve Set It To Wumbo
HIGH The first fight I had online.
LOW Realizing I saw everything the game had to offer in less than an hour.
WTF I’ll keep playing if Crazy Steve from Drake and Josh gets added as DLC.
It’s no secret I love a decent licensed game. Hell, I’ve even reviewed a few based on beloved cartoons like SpongeBob SquarePants and Samurai Jack. So, when the opportunity arose to review Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, I jumped on it. It’s certainly on-brand for me to play a budget licensed title based on cartoons I grew up with!
This crossover sees some of the biggest Nicktoon stars like SpongeBob SquarePants, Nigel Thornberry, and even Ren and Stimpy fight each other in a platforming/brawling experience akin to Super Smash Bros. Fights play out on 2D arenas with different obstacles to jump on and navigate around. The objective of each fight is to incur damage and knock opponents off the stage by eliminating all their lives, or getting the most knockouts within a set time limit. With up to four players competing in one arena, all of this works. In fact, the first few matches I played online were fantastic.
One of my mains, Patrick Star, features great references to his SpongeBob TV persona with every movement. Attacks include slamming the phone in anger (referencing the infamous “No, this is Patrick!” bit), diving while wearing a giant ice cream cone, and even wearing a trophy on his head. I love this attention to detail, and each combatant has a solid moveset showcasing how much love the devs have for the source material.
In terms of speed, All-Star Brawl feels slower than other fighters of this type, though every combatant has more combos than is common to the genre. Instead of using two types of attacks (one standard and one super) players have three — a standard, strong, and super, and every attack (when used in conjunction with a direction on the d-pad or control stick) has a different property, like allowing a character to recover from being knocked off the stage or even allowing them to grab their opponents in battle. Things also get interesting when certain status effects come into play, like sprinting or being airborne. This variety in attacks means there’s always something to learn during each fight.
All-Star Brawl is definitely a competent fighter that’s great to play with others. Unfortunately, there’s not much here when playing any other way.
Singleplayer pretty much boils down to an uninspired arcade mode where players go through a standard series of fights. There’s no variety to break up the monotony of battles, and there’s nothing meaningful to unlock since everything is available from the start — there are no rewards, like new characters or stages. A story mode with a few surprises to look forward to would have gone a long way towards keeping solo players engaged.
Another knock against the experience is that there’s absolutely no voice acting. That’s right — some of the most iconic and talkative cartoon characters in history are completely mute, which was an issue also prevalent in GameMill’s previous Nick game. The resulting lack of personality is impossible to overlook.
Along the same lines, where are the extras? Sure, seeing visual callbacks is great, but a huge part of what makes Super Smash Bros. so beloved is how it acts as a museum of sorts for the properties it includes in its roster. Why isn’t the same amount of respect and love put into NASB? I would have loved to see trivia, clips from the actual cartoons, a collection of art, or music from the various programs. A title like this should be a celebration of these IPs, especially since so many players near my age are now ready to enjoy a bit of nostalgia. Instead, we got a fairly boilerplate effort wearing a Nickelodeon skin.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is the most disappointing kind of game as it’s one that offers so much promise and then fails to deliver on it, even when it comes to the most obvious, low-hanging fruit.
Disclosures: This game is published by GameMill Entertainment and developed by Ludosity. It is available on PS4, PS5, XBO/X/S, Switch, and PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS5. Approximately 10 hours were spent in both the single-player and multiplayer modes. The arcade mode was completed three times with three different characters.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated E10 for Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief. The official description reads as follows: This is a platform fighter game in which players compete in brawls with characters from a variety of Nickelodeon shows (e.g., SpongeBob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Players use punches, kicks, and special attacks (e.g., pizza throw, log toss) to knock opponents off platform levels. Combat is often frenetic, accompanied by impact sounds, colorful light bursts, and screen-shaking effects. A handful of characters can perform comical attack moves (e.g., Toot Laser, First Fart) against opponents..
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and on-screen instructions cannot be adjusted. Sound is not required to enjoy the game thanks to an abundance of visual cues. This game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: Yes, the controls are remappable.