That of fighting it is by its nature a minefield to slip into when you are a young development team with high hopes. It is, after all, a genre where "easy money" is not contemplated and you have to contend respectively with an often very vocal hardcore fanbase, complex mechanics closely linked to a myriad of data and calculations and a rather saturated market where there is no shortage the supporting columns. Offering something that has never been done, therefore, is already in itself an endeavor bordering on desperation and when you try to abandon the complexity typical of these titles in favor of more accessible systems, the general response is a loss of interest both from newbies to the genre as well as from the veteran side of the community.
In this obstacle course, however, there is a single name that has been able to avoid virtually every danger with a grace unattainable for all others: Smash Bros., a series so stratified that it is today both the most played by casual users and one of the most supported by expert gamers. Over the years the Sakurai saga has managed to renew and improve itself constantly, up to that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which today has most likely the best roster ever seen in a fighting game (recently completed with the arrival of Sora ). Yet even in this absolute state of grace, a blemish remains: the latest Smash has an atrocious netcode, which makes it extremely difficult to play online with serenity, and even less to organize competitive remote events in the problematic era of Covid.
An opening for an imitation with its own personality, therefore, exists outside the simple non-exclusivity and Fair Play Labs, accompanied by Ludosity, have decided to seize the ball by creating Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl: a "smash clone"equipped with netcode rollback (and which therefore should be infinitely more stable on the network), focused on the competitive and strengthened by some of the most iconic characters in cartoon history. The validity of the combat system, however, rests largely precisely on Ludosity, since it is a group of developers (always fans of the Sakurai series) with already active Slap City, another similar title.
As we will see in the Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl review, are far more solid premises than the average on which to rely.
Gameplay: Smash but not too much
Ludosity's passion for the title that inspires everything immediately becomes crystal clear as soon as you get your hands on one of the twenty characters available on the roster. Although, in fact, these are very different faces from those of Nintendo's fighting game - including Spongebob and Patrick, a couple of Ninja Turtles, Danny Phantom, Ren and Stimpy, and many others - their sets of moves are often partially borrowed from those of Sakurai's work. Let's be clear, we are not talking about a carbon copy and it is not easy to invent completely original moves in a similar title, but most of the characters remain alterations of fighters already seen, albeit modified in order to be unique compared to their "Nintendian counterparts." ".
Things start to change seriously when you go into more detail about the combat system, because - while based on fundamentals almost identical to those of Smash Ultimate, including percentages instead of life points that indicate your ease of "launch" off the screen and three lives per character - Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl puts on some distinctive mechanics that completely change the approach to combat.
Let's start for example from movement, as in All Star Brawl it is not possible to perform quick dodges while parrying. Using the button of the guard in the air, however, allows you to shoot in the chosen direction and the presence of the double jump makes it air mobility base higher than that of Smash. The absence of dodges on the ground, however, does not mean that there are no advanced options of this type: pressing the jump and parry simultaneously while moving allows you to perform the so-called wave dash, a constant rapid movement that is practically mandatory to master against experienced players. That wasn't enough, if you shoot down in the air you land with a much faster speed than normal air movement, you can "block" the direction of your character in order to continue the offensive without problems while moving away from the enemy, and There is also a short jump here if you press the jump button briefly. Yes, in short, as you can see the game is basic only in appearance and we have barely started.
Offerta Amazon Nickelodeon All Star Brawl - Playstation 5
The absence of dodges, in fact, has changed the guard already mentioned, which is not consumed if hit multiple times, but leads to a stun if you are hit while parrying at the edge of the arena (which risks immediately losing one of the three lives). Instant parrying or pressing the opposite direction to enemy attacks are more effective, and doing both with perfect timing results in a perfect guard that leaves you ahead for a counterattack. Speaking of defensive options, then, it is even possible to send the bullets back to the sender with the attacks, or even use a grip to transform them into throwable objects (every time they are rejected they speed up).
- attacks have undergone similar changes: here there are no loadable smash shots, but rather slow heavy attacks that work with a "rock, paper, scissor" system where one direction beats the other when used simultaneously. The normal shots instead work in a similar way to the "tilt" of the Nintendo game, while the special moves are practically identical in functionality, with the upward ones also representing the best recovery moves to avoid ending up outside the arena. All in all? It's a great system, much more technical than we expected, and hugely fun. The greatest emphasis on combo (which are also easier to perform) makes it more hectic, and it is evident how someone already very trained with the Smash system can convert their skills with great naturalness in the competitive Nickelodeon All-Star. Let's be clear, on the whole we find everything a little less intuitive and refined than Smash, but if you consider the level of the original game, what the developers achieved remains absolutely worthy of praise.
Contents: after the online the void
Seen in this way, the work of Fair Play Labs and Lodosity would seem to have all the credentials to deal on equal terms with some of the most famous fighting games in circulation and not only with the other "Smash clones". However, if we go to analyze the productive values of the game and its content, the building begins to show some cracks.
After all, we are talking about a title developed with rather limited resources and time, in which the central focus of the developers was clearly (and slyly) the gameplay. Everything else is therefore skin and bones, with mode sparse and devoid of particular attractions and an online designed exclusively for maximum functionality at the expense of the variety of options. Nickelodeon Brawl therefore offers training with weak customization options (but, curiously, the ability to advance the moves frame by frame and view the hitboxes of the shots), a tutorial in still images, a negligible arcade mode against artificial intelligence and without narrative, a timed mode, and a really chaotic Sport mode designed for the more casual players, where to win you need to throw a ball (there are various types) at the center of two star targets. We found the latter an extra funny enough in its delirium, but it will hardly be taken into consideration by the community.
Online itself is somewhat limited: you can create lobbies, or select between ranked and fast games, yet matchmaking is not particularly tweakable (albeit fast), and you can find games with serious connection problems. If nothing else the netcode it seemed to hold up just fine: after the first few days of jammed servers and various crashes, things quickly stabilized and now most games run without problems or latency (outside of rare freezes). Great, and we are head and shoulders above Smash Ultimate online, even with the need for a few more options.
Even from a technical point of view, the game does not impress either for the quality of the three-dimensional models or for the arenas. The charisma of many of the fighters therefore saves the shack, as well as a decent variety of scenarios to fight in (including some atrocious paintings that are practically the equivalent of Smash's worst arenas, for example a really unnecessary imitation of Pokéfloats. ...). Considering the resources behind the software houses involved, however, we do not believe it is appropriate to complain in front of a solid work in this field.
From a pure gameplay standpoint, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is undoubtedly one of the best Smash clones out there. That its creators are passionate about the series with considerable awareness of how its most advanced mechanics work is evident to anyone who hangs out in the genre, and it's nice to see how they managed to put together an extremely solid combat system, while not sticking to 100%. to the canons of the work that inspired them. The productive values of the game, however, are clearly scarce and this leads it to be lacking both from a technical and a content point of view. Its future lies entirely in the competitive online, which if nothing else can count on an infinitely more valid netcode than that of the Nintendo title. All in all? A good job, which has what it takes to create a community of enthusiasts.
- Great gameplay, more technical than it appears and with interesting unique elements
- Rather varied roster with some unmistakable Nickelodeon characters
- Rollback Netcode, which looks pretty solid at the moment
- Few content
- Technical sector anything but impressive
- He currently still has few fighters to choose from