Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl review: nostalgia with a purpose

Within five minutes of playing Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, I try to tour Jellyfish Fields as Patrick. I’m suddenly interrupted by a main Catdog, which kicks me off the map. It should be overwhelming; game after game i have three stocks in line, but i cant help but smile all the time. I feel like I’m eight again, playing Super Smash Bros. Melee with my brothers, lose every game and have the best time of my life.

From the very first trailer, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl brought back memories of SpongeBob games to the GameCube after school. It seems lovingly crafted by developers who also had that childhood, but it puts gameplay first and nostalgia second.

Related: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Forgot Nick’s Main Audience

The memes terrified me: everyone expected developer Ludosity to release the “Smash Killer”. No game could ever be that. But somehow, this little studio that was put in the spotlight just a few weeks ago has released a fighting game that at least gives Smash Ultimate some competition. While recent Smash titles have brought final smashes, more items, and overall slower gameplay, All-Star Brawl delivers the fast-paced competitive play that many of us have been craving since Melee’s all these days ago. years.

And damn it, do these developers love Melee. The respect he has for the second Smash game hits you in the face with every fight. Everything is lightning fast and every move counts. There are no items, no final smashes, no gimmicks next to the fights – All-Star Brawl trusts its players enough to have fun scouring the map and fighting each other in as cartoon characters. It doesn’t have to be a board game, fighting games can be just as fun on their own, for sure.

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A big part of what makes All-Star Brawl so fun, even in the face of defeat, is how accessible it can be. Sure, the controls suck at first – I’ll die on the hill which should be a “jump” – but once you figure that out you can start to take advantage of the technology with the best of them. I’ve probably done about three waves in my many hours of scrum, but in All-Star Brawl April O’Neil glides across the map like nothing has happened, like I won Evo while running. to Powdered Toastman. and hit it with a microphone stand. I might even lose the game, but that quick taste of fame keeps me coming back.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl admittedly doesn’t offer a lot of ways to play. Everything I just talked about comes from my time spent in online lobbies – which work wonderfully – because single-player mode, while fun, is incredibly straightforward. This is easily one of his biggest flaws as a Smash clone.

There are two to four player battles, which can be action or timed. There’s also an arcade mode, which is functional enough, but doesn’t inject enough charm into its design, while there’s no reason it shouldn’t look like the reference-filled arcade in Melee. There is no narrative in arcade mode, or anywhere else for that matter. The characters don’t even interact with each other in any of the game modes other than a few simple lines in a text box, which are random quotes rather than actual conversations. There are no Injustice-style taunts here. It sounds like a huge dud when there are wonderfully silly ways to create rivalry between actors.

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The only variety you can add to the mix otherwise comes in sport mode. But shooting soccer balls into goal only slows down what is meant to be a fast-paced game and does not significantly round off the offerings for a single player. Everything is saved by the ridiculously well-crafted way of combat, but the more laid-back elements of Smash are lacking.

Few others will buy the game where SpongeBob fights Nigel Thornberry and Reptar for the fight. There’s a reason we’ve been following every announcement in the game’s development: the cartoons themselves. Sadly, this is another area that Smash has beaten by far – but not for lack of trying.

On the one hand, you can feel Ludosity getting as much of these IP addresses as possible, painstakingly trying to showcase these characters we love. Yet you also feel that something – whether it’s time constraints or copyright issues – is holding Ludosity back. There are no vocal lines, no music, and no alternate costumes. It’s like someone with money and decision-making power doesn’t believe in this game. All things considered, it is a testament to the talent of the developers that we got good game charm without these things, almost exclusively. thanks to his fantastic moves and taunts that refer to iconic moments or famous memes. But it’s a ridiculous showdown that should never have happened.

Nigel Thornberry in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Not all of its flaws come down to the lack of homage to the source material, either. While the game plays brilliantly on PS4, another writer from TheGamer did not fare as well on Xbox Series X, reporting constant drops in performance and tearing. Having had one of us on every platform so far, this seems very Xbox specific, with both the PS4 and PS5, so this is probably the one to be avoided.

All things considered, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is first and foremost a Melee fan project. There’s the cute Nick painting thrown over it, but the fights are what you should come here for, even if the cartoon characters got you hooked in the first place.

And that’s what’s funny about it all. While comparisons of Smash Bros. kept pouring in throughout development, I thought the developers would be terrified that the gameplay didn’t live up to the hype.

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But that was not the case at all. Ludosity really made a fighting game to rival Smash Ultimate when it comes to gameplay. He failed to get the extra toppings – we love hearing characters shout out generic combat dialogue, right? If you were crying over Sora entering Smash, tears probably started to flow when you heard Haley Joel Osment’s voice. And when we get new DLC packs, we’re almost as excited about the new soundtrack as we are about the characters. So when every scene here has a music track, and none of it is from the shows, you really feel its absence.

With the DLC on the way, there’s (hopefully) no reason that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl couldn’t get these things. But there is no guarantee.

Right now, All-Star Brawl is on its own, not trying to be Smash Ultimate now that its DLC has dried up, but trying to show us a good nostalgic moment. He rocks you with his lightning strikes and accessible fights, keeping a smile on your face throughout.

Basically don’t come here because the recent Battle for Bikini Bottom remaster made you want a bit of SpongeBob humor. Come here because you want to see SpongeBob beating Nigel Thornberry and find your own humor there.

NICK BRAWL

Note 4/5. A PlayStation 4 code has been provided by the publisher.


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