I’m a grown man and I’m proud to admit that I’ve been looking forward to the Nickelodeon All-Stars brawl. I love Smash Bros., I used to watch Nickelodeon when I was a kid, and there’s Turtles in it: What’s not to like? The answer, it turns out, is a lot.
Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl is a pretty barebones game at launch: the singleplayer mode and training options are meant to be humble, basic, and the focus is entirely on competitive play. Which is fine to an extent, although perhaps a little disappointing for those who want to play alone.
The game itself plays like a fast Smash Bros., and can be fun! The combos are quirky, the characters wonderfully animated and the stages funny. I didn’t really know what I was doing in my first few matches but RPG sank into the grain bowl and I loved it. The bigger issue though is what is (or isn’t) around this core.
A great deal of games have been made featuring rollback netplay, which should in theory lead to a smoother online experience. In practice I’m facing a fair amount of lag, framerate drops, and opponents teleporting from one place to another. Some matches are perfectly fine; Some are not playable.
However, what totally blew me away is the lack of customization options in the game. Supports game controllers or keyboard and mouse: You’ll need to go into Steam’s controller overlay to change the default controller bind, there’s no option to do it in-game. Embarrassingly, many beginners guide to the game just how to do it. You can rebind the mouse and keyboard, but this character is hidden in the select screen and you cannot replace the movement keys with the default arrow keys.
Universal controls in fighting games in 2021?!? This is an absolutely crazy city.
Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl had a tentative stint on the Steam best-sellers list at launch, and seemed to have a healthy concurrent player base of between 7-8,000 players. Those stats have since gone off a cliff, and you’re lucky to find a few hundred players a week after launch (which may have contributed to a less-than-ideal online experience).
Maybe after your first nostalgia hit from Michelangelo, the allure quickly wears off. The omission of items is absolutely one of the things that makes Smash seem bummed and All-Stars utterly misses: The joy of a catalog is as deep as it gets. Smash Bros. is like Nintendo’s own love-letter for fans, finding a supporting character, or a theme tune for remixes, or an unexpected new character in every corner of the company’s rich heritage (the fact that Smash Bros. He finally got Mr. Game and look there, and did it so well, always makes me smile).
It doesn’t pay as much attention to detail, though, to be fair about it, the developer can only work with the resources it has and what Nickelodeon allows it to do. The roster is centered on the three main series, with a few outliers, and many fans are disappointed about the lack of this or that character, not caring for the universal lament about the lack of voice acting (again: the hands of the developer perhaps. tied here). As a Smash competitor it was always somewhat misrepresented, simply because the comparison is so obvious, but it really ends up reminding you what Smash is right.
I don’t think Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl is a disaster: The combat feels like a decent foundation, I love the art style, and it’s a license with enormous potential for a Knockout brawler. It’s not like that, though, and it’s impossible to recommend the PC version: I actually felt 20 years younger when I realized what keybinding stuff is.
The game feels like it was rushed to launch when it could actually use more time in the oven, and is probably a victim of that modern notion that the game can be launched and then updated. could. But that first impression always counts. All this brings to mind another part of Nintendo history: As Shigeru Miyamoto said of Ocarina of Time: “A delayed game is ultimately good. A bad game is forever bad.”