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Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Review

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You may remember, back in the mists of time, that Nickelodeon released a Smash Bros clone that failed to set the world on fire. Mists of time in this case being 2021 and that game being Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl

Well, thanks to the folks over at Fair Play Labs and GameMill Entertainment, they are back to have another crack at the crown that, let’s face it, is pretty much nailed onto Nintendo’s head. 

So, have they got a prayer of holding a candle to the mighty Smash Bros with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2? Or are they doomed to fail like every challenger before them? There’s only one way to find out, and that is to dive straight in and start brawling. Seconds out, Round 1!

nickelodeon all star brawl 2 review 1
Brawling as SpongeBob? Of course!

I’m going to kick things off with the story of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, and it’s nice to see that there is an attempt at one this time around, rather than “Well, we’re here now, let’s all have a fight, eh?”. In Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, Vlad Plasmius, who is some kind of villain, has decided to kidnap various fighters from the world, before proceeding to brainwash them. The Campaign mode follows Spongebob Squarepants, as he is attempting to find his friend Patrick and free him from Vlad’s control, by the medium of giving him a good slapping. We then need to help Clockwork, a being who controls time and wants to stop Vlad. From there it is business as usual, attempting to fight in a Smash Bros style and free other fighters, who then become controllable further down the line. You’ll notice I didn’t say it was a good story…

Thinking about the presentation and it is probably time for a confession – I’m not at all sure that a 50-year old bloke is the target demographic for this game. Apart from Spongebob and Aang from Avatar, I have almost no idea who the rest of the characters are. If you watch Nickelodeon every day, I’m sure that you will have a much better idea as to whether the animation of the characters is anything like what it should be, but what I can report is that the animation on display is pretty smooth and nice to look at. 

Sound is equally good, with voiced cutscenes that I assume use the original voice actors (no idea, to be honest). The various fighting sound effects are all very good too – from Spongebob’s rainbows and bubbles to Aang’s kung fu powers, it all looks and sounds as good as you’d expect.

And so we get to have a look at the action. For a kick off, what there isn’t here is a shortage of things to try your hand at. Campaign is the big mode that is front and centre, working well. We start each run at the Campaign in the hub area, where there are various merchants that we can buy perks and things from the NPCs, allowing us to customise our characters and help us survive the trials that are about to be unveiled. 

nickelodeon all star brawl 2 review 2
Perhaps the Turtles will be a better bet?

As we go through the Campaign, there are various routes that we can take and different challenges that we will face, from defeating a brainwashed ally through to jumping around on a platforming-only stage, popping slime balloons to make it to the end. The range of different activities to take part in helps to add to the longevity of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, as with the best will in the world, fighting all the time does get a bit old. 

This approach is also carried over to the Single Player, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The first option is the Arcade mode; a series of encounters and stages to make it through to the end, where we then have to take Vlad himself down. The difficulty can be tailored to your preference, but with achievements tied to the different difficulty levels of Arcade, it is worth getting the practice in and trying to beat it on each level. A lot of practice, may I add! Luckily, the devs have kindly added both Boss Rush and Mini-game options, but it is also home to the Dojo, where you can practise until you are blue in the face. All in all, as a single player, there is a lot to get involved in. 

As you’d expect, there are various modes for either local or online versus matches to be undertaken too – but strangely it is here where the wheels of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 come askew. They don’t fall off, per se, but the online world appears to be completely dead, and I’ve been left unable to get a match for love nor money. In fact, I had to get my son to download it to test the online, and given that he is an unholy terror at Smash Bros, that went about as well for me as you’d expect. 

What I can report on is that the net code and everything going on behind the scenes all works very well, but a lack of players is a bit of a surprise. The local option also works very well, and if we overlook the humiliation I received trying to keep up, this was a lot of fun too. 

nickelodeon all star brawl 2 review 3
There’s no doubt the character roster is huge

So, a conclusion is required at this point in a review traditionally, and this one is no different. What I will say is that in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 there is a marked improvement over the last game. There is a much higher level of polish this time around, as well as a definite skill involved in getting good at the game; button mashing is a surefire route to failure. It’s not perfect though – for instance I don’t like the mapping of the jump button (Y button as a default) and my first instinct when trying to jump is to press the A button, resulting in many hilarious falls to my death; but you can overcome this with practice. 

The new challenges and stages add some spice, and other than the dead online world, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is a fun and enjoyable brawling-style game. Better than Smash Bros? No, but the gap is closer than ever, and that means this is the next best thing on the Xbox. 

Give it a try if you like brawling, Nickelodeon, or indeed both!

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Lots of content to go at as a single player
  • Looks and sounds great
  • Massive character roster
Cons:
  • A dead online world
  • I hate the Y button being jump
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, GameMill Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 14 November 2023 | £59.99
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Lots of content to go at as a single player</li> <li>Looks and sounds great</li> <li>Massive character roster</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>A dead online world</li> <li>I hate the Y button being jump</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, GameMill Entertainment</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 14 November 2023 | £59.99</li> </ul>Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Review
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