Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a bummer

Nickelodeon All-Star BrawlCould have been considered a candidate.

This pitch proved to be a winning one. “What if there was a Smash Bros. game starring beloved Nickelodeon characters?” The concept rests perfectly in the middle portion of the “corporate IP flex” and “stuff fans actually want” venn diagram. Its Smash-contender credentials skyrocketed when Nickelodeon collaborated with Fair Play Labs developers Ludosity, and Fair Play Labs. Ludosity’s small team were Smash Bros. fanatics who had turned out Slap CityIn 2018 -, a platform fighter designed for high-level gameplay

The devs joked that their game would feature wavedashing in an early trailer. The game will be available in In Smash Bros. MeleeThe high-execution technique of wavedashing allowed characters to move at incredible speeds. This exploit was a key component of competitive gaming. Nintendo would later nerf this exploit and make a bunch of people mad. Nickelodeon & Ludosity signaled that Smash-like was coming by showing Spongebob riding on invisible roller skates. The real dealPlease see the following: These are real fans.

When they were confirmed, the devs added more catnip. All-Star BrawlWould have rolled back netcode on some platforms. For those of you who don’t spend your evenings yelling at fighting game developers on Twitter, rollback refers to a set of ingenious techniques that can, under the right conditions, make online fighting game matches feel nearly as responsive as in-person sessions. Another shot from Smash Bros. This makes online fighting games feel almost like correspondence.

Ludosity Labs has mostly kept their word. All-Star Brawl is mechanically solid, the characters all feel unique in their design and purpose, and the netplay is undeniably better than Nintendo’s offering. I’ve tuned into Twitch streams of competitive Smash players putting it through the paces, praising its speed and responsiveness.

All this to say, the developers have created a formidable platform fighter that will satisfy all the Nintendo haters. So it’s even more of a pity that Nickelodeon All-Star BrawlTotally fails to provide the charm, humor, and smartness that make crossover fighters so appealing.

The developers seem to think so Do Enjoy working with Nickelodeon’s pantheon. Techniques tie nicely into the Brawlers canonical abilities and personalities, and there’s even deep cuts and meme references like Patrick’s ice cream cone attack or the Mocking Spongebob taunt. But it doesn’t feel like enough.

Spongebob Squarepants strikes his mocking pose from in the Mocking Spongebob memes.

Image via Polygon: GameMill/Nickelodeon

Emotionally as well as aesthetically Nickelodeon All-Star BrawlIt is inert. The most obvious shortcoming is the complete absence of voice acting— we don’t even get yelps or grunts. With the exception of someone like Reptar, Nickelodeon’s characters are all inexorably linked to their distinct voice acting throughout the years. The total lack of communication between them is both awkward and unsettling at the best. While it may have been difficult for the developers to mobilize the lawyers and money to attract the Tom Kennys and Billy Wests to the board, there are no excuses.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl also lacks any of Nickelodeon’s iconic tunes. Instead we use stage music loosely inspired and composed by Nickelodeon’s iconic tunes. Feel good!All the shows. Bikini Bottom has some amazing slide-guitar solos. AAHHH! Real MonstersThe stage is home to a Howie Scream, a chopped-and-screwed Howie. But while there are definitely some bangers here, you won’t hear a single nostalgic melody.

Super Smash Bros.’s greatest joy is the ability to see characters from various worlds come together in funny and clever ways. Kirby’s copy ability was a gold mine of cute and funny gags. Snake’s codec conversations in Brawl treated you to the Colonel marveling at Wario’s farting prowess. Kazuya Mishima dumping the Smash roster from his patricide cliff favorite was amazing. It’s so great Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl Never once does it get to enjoy the crossover possibilities.

It’s especially evident in the game’s arcade mode. At the start of every battle, combatants exchange words using a basic text box. It’s a simple system that has potential for fun little moments, even without voice acting: What would Avatar’s glib Earthbender Toph make of the flamboyant Powdered Toast Man? The game misses this chance too. The one-liners aren’t personalized at all. Each character just cycles through a tiny handful of dull quips, regardless of where they are or who they’re up against.

She’s always saying this!
GameMill/Nickelodeon through Polygon

All-Star Brawl feels like a licensed game that’s constantly being undercut by the very company that licensed it. Ludosity’s platform fighting game chops are on full display here, but in this space, every ounce of fanfare matters. Nickelodeon approved the use of these characters but was unable to or unwilling to give access to the voice actors, music and writers necessary to bring this crossover fantasy to life. It feels like a small studio doing the best with what it’s got, when it should have been given a whole lot more.

#Nickelodeon #AllStar @Brawl #bummer