Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

For several generations, youngsters have enjoyed watching shows on the Nickelodeon cable channel for kids.  Heck, even when I was little back in the 80’s, I enjoyed watching Nick shows such as You Can’t Do that on Television, Danger Mouse, and Double Dare.  Even more recently I’ve been known to watch shows on that channel like Invader ZIM and The Penguins of Madagascar.  My younger brothers would watch shows on Nickelodeon, too, such as Rugrats and SpongeBob Squarepants.  And now there is a fighting game featuring Nick’s vast history of cartoon stars.  So yeah, it’s basically Smash Bros. with Nickelodeon characters.  It’s available on nearly all current game consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

If you’ve played Smash Bros., you’ll know what to expect here.  You hit opponents to make their damage meter go up, which knocks them back further the higher it is.  If you can knock another player off the stage borders, you’ll score a victory or point, depending on the rules.  You have a button for quick and strong attacks, plus one for ‘smash’ attacks and jumping.  You can also block and taunt with the shoulder buttons.  One problem some Smash fans may have is there really isn’t a dodge button, but you can sidestep to dodge in an indirect matter.  And there are no items either.  Play control also doesn’t feel as tight as Smash, but it gets the job done.

There are several modes of play.  Up to four locally can go at it in Battle mode.  Here you can compete with Stock (lives), Timer, or Sports.  Sports has you hit a soccer ball (or other balls from Nick shows) to score points in your goal.  You can also view text instructions on How to Play and practice moves in Training.  Arcade is the single player mode where you fight against a series of CPU opponents of varying difficulty that you can select.  You can also play others Online or view Extras.  These include artwork in the Gallery, specific moves for each character, Replays, and music.

So the most important thing in these types of games are the fighter characters!  So here they all are:  You’ve got SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy from SpongeBob Squarepants.  Ang, Toph, and Korra from the Avatar series.  Lincoln and Lucy Loud from The Loud House.  Leonardo, Michelangelo, and April O’Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Ren & Stimpy and Powdered Toast Man from Ren & Stimpy.  Also Invader ZIM, CatDog, and Reptar from Rugrats.  Plus Nigel Thornberry, Helga from Hey, Arnold, Danny Phantom, and Oblina from AAAAH, Real Monsters!  Stages are also from the shows, and include Jellyfish Fields, the Flying Dutchman’s Ship, Glove World, CatDog’s house, and the western themed playground from that one episode of Rugrats.  I don’t know if they’ll add more characters later, but that’s the initial cast as of this writing.

Aside from the slighter looser controls, really the only other problem I had with the game is the same one I had with the Nickelodeon Kart Racers I reviewed before.  And that’s the lack of voices.  Granted, I imagine it would be very expensive to get ALL the voice actors and actresses on board, plus I believe some have retired and I know at least one of the voice actresses has passed away.  But man it would’ve gone a long way to adding some personality to this game.  The developers tried to make up for it with the animations and moves for the characters, which make a lot of references for fans.  For instance, one of Ren & Stimpy’s attacks is throwing Log (it’s big, it’s heavy, it’s wood), and their victory pose is the entire Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy dance.  And Reptar pulls out a bowl of cereal as his taunt move!

So is it as good as Smash Bros.?  No, of course not.  But you really shouldn’t go into this game expecting that.  If you have kids (or are a kid at heart yourself) who loves Nickelodeon shows and Smash Bros., then you may want to check out this game.

Kid Factor:

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief.  You do hit other cartoon characters, but if you’re OK with your kids watching Nick shows, they’ll be OK with this game.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the menu and tutorial text, but not necessary just to play.

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