Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is the perfect example of a slam dunk gone wrong. After winning fans over with the familiar arena fighter gameplay filled with past and present Nickelodeon favorites, the final product failed to deliver. Not only were voice actors missing, a wide array of fighting game basics, including alternate colors, destroyed any potential it had. Much to Ludosity and Fair Play Labs credit, a lot of these things were ultimately corrected, but the damage was done. With lessons learned, plus a bit more faith, is Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 everything the original should’ve been, or was one strike enough?
Like most crossover fighters, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 features a campaign that attempts to explain how these beloved characters came together to fight. Having Vlad Plasmius act as the central villain is a lovely choice that fans of Danny Phantom will appreciate. That being said, campaign is more like an extended tutorial with gimmicks.
So Nice Hearing the Original Voices
The six different difficulties alter the core experience, with the central idea being to survive random and varied challenges. These include hoard stages, mini-games, solo fights, platforming, shops, power-ups, and so forth. It sounds a lot more varied than it actually is.
Paths offer up to three options, which will either further branch off, or converge on a single experience. Each stage offers their own distinct, though not always unique, benefit that can make certain choices hard. Sometimes I’ll take additional resources even if it will hurt me long term, or opt for a solo fight because I want to unlock that character in campaign mode.
Where it ultimately succeeds is forcing players to learn the fundamentals. Outside of the lowest difficulty, it helps to learn which attacks reflect projectiles, when to finish an enemy, understand best practices, and build a cohesive set of perks that enhance any given play style.
In addition to being an elaborate tutorial, it also has a number of delightful references for fans to enjoy. These range from bosses, such as the Flying Dutchman, to power-ups referencing iconic moments. As a fan of many of these series it’s great to see how much thought and care went into even the smallest element.
Besides campaign there is also an Arcade mode, online/offline Versus, Boss Rush, and two Minigames. Aside from Versus, these modes give players some variety if they like a specific aspect of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2. It would be nice if there was a bit more to them, like arcade has no dialogue, and is an amalgamation of previously mentioned content.
Since versus is going to be the main selling point, I wanted to briefly touch on characters. While I would not describe Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 as a complicated game, it makes up for this with tactics. Similar to Super Smash Bros., most of the battle is knowing what to do, over how to do it. Sometimes this will be defensive plays like dodging, whereas other times it’s a charged attack that will send your foe flying.
Characters tend to be pretty varied as well. Each move set is heavily based off the series itself, often with small nods to the source material. Players can also expect similar utility between fighters. That isn’t to say each character lacks a gimmick, most have something that makes them interesting, but rather there is often a move that fills each need. This might be recovery, dodging, or area control.
Despite doing a lot of things right, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is still far from perfect. Gameplay is a bit looser than you might think. This is most noticeable during boss fights where even the slightest mistake can result in massive damage. It would also be nice to see more tutorials, like I didn’t even notice an explanation of how to reflect attacks in either tutorial. Odds are you’ll figure it out through trial and error in campaign mode, but there should be an easier path.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Review Verdict
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 : For the most part Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is in a good place. There are tons of references, characters have unique costumes, original voice talent is present, not to mention plenty of content for solo players. It would be nice to see tighter controls, possibly a better tutorial, and better representation of some of the other classics, but at the end of the day it's an enjoyable experience that I could genuinely see families or older people who grew up with these series have a blast. – Grant
Editor’s Note: Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 was reviewed on PlayStation 5, and a copy was provided to us for review purposes.