It’s fair to say there a more than a few titles that have used major hits as inspiration, you know the sort of games that take a licenced show and weld it onto the frame of a Mario Kart, 3D platformer or Smash Bros. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was once such game… at first look, but Costa Rican studio Fair Play Lab actually crafted something a bit special with it, that sure does have the Smash Bros core formula at its heart, but also truly embodied its Nickelodeon license. Well, we are 2 years on since then and the studio is back for a whole new instalment with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2; that adds more characters, stages and overall, more content. By far the biggest improvement to the game is its cast of toon powered heroes you can get into scraps with. Fan favourites like Zim, April O’Neil and Patrick are joined this time around by new challengers – including Angry Beavers, Jimmy Neutron and even Grandma Gertie. All in all, the game now boasts 25 playable characters from 17 different Nickelodeon franchises, 14 of which are returning from the previous game. Plus, there are 4 extra characters in the works that will be added down the line as DLC over the space of next year.
Though some of the first games main cast have been relegated to support roles, background characters on some stages or worse still binned fully from the game; like Leonardo, CatDog and Oblina. Also worth noting is that the voice acting side of things has seen some real work with most of the cast being voiced often by the original voice actors, which is a HUGE step up on the first game, which had zero voice acting. Work has also been done in terms of a story mode to explain why our heroes are doing battle, where Danny Phantom’s bad guy – Vlad Plasmius, is trying to pull all the characters out of the universe in hope of being granted the power to mind control or something to this end. It’s a game based in a whacky series of cartoons and its tale is equally as whacky to be honest. But if you’re a fan of the shows, you’ll get a kick out of it likely, its ultimately a framework for its roguelike campaign to sit nicely within.
Gameplay-wise it sticks firmly to the format of being a fighting game very much in the Smash Bros formula, where you explore a hub world talking to a bunch of characters, before jumping into an arena style gauntlet run – where your goal is to make it through to the other side as many times as you can, battling iconic bosses as you do and bagging goodies; like extra outfits and unlocks as you succeed. Combat is based around a rock, paper, scissors style system where you have three main moves; attack, dodge and counter and knowing when to use each is key. Each character has a unique take on the system making them all feel different, like Garfield having a lasagne meter that makes him faster and stronger the more its filled or Reptar who just packs a lot of heavy and hard hits. Plus, there are special attacks that can and will change the outcome of fights. There is also a new slime meter which is a real game changer, that once filled gives you a powerful buff to your basic attacks or unleashes your ultimate attack complete with flashy and often fun cut scenes.
For modes you’ll spend most of your time with the main story, though there is an arcade mode where you can have some special themed fights. There is also an outstanding and very deep training mode which is well worth using, if you’re looking to master your favourite brawler. You can then also take your new found skills online to see how you measure up with the online side – being surprisingly packed with options to set up fights including ranked. Visually the game sometimes looks great, then other times a little rough, which when teamed up with the soundtrack overall nails that Nickelodeon vibe it aims for. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is a step up from the first game on all fronts; with more content, characters and options, it’s clear to see this was the game the first game wanted to be.
An Xbox review copy of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 was provided by Fair Play Lab’s PR team, and the game is available now on Xbox, PlayStation, Switch and PC for around £40.