When you read this review, factor in some things. Factor in that Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is one of the greatest platform fighting games of all time. That's not up for debate. Many have tried. It became very hard to come close to a superior game after Melee, but when Ultimate became a cross-over dream, the argument ended. It came out 5 years ago, and since then, similar games have come and gone. Brawlhalla and Brawlout are still out there somewhere, while games Warner Brothers' MultiVersus, released in 2022, and is already on an indefinite hiatus. In 2021, Game Mill and Nickelodeon came together and made their version of a platform fighter, and that review is here, but now we have the sequel, simply called Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2.
The storyline doesn't ever have to be deep for these games. You pick a character, and do moves based on that character. Do enough moves to increase the damage percentage of your opponent(s), and the higher that percentage, the further they get knocked back. The goal is to knock them off the screen until all their lives are gone. That's it, and you win. All characters have a way to get back to the stage or platform they're fighting on, so becoming proficient definitely takes some skill and time in the training room. Keep all this in mind. If you're picking this up for the kids at Christmas, you're playing locally. You're getting smacked as soon as you get online. Because Smash Brothers exists, and people who play that may be already playing this.
There is a campaign you can jump right into. You start off with Spongebob, for no particular reason. And Clockwork from Danny Phantom tells you that Vlad Plasmius, also from Danny Phantom, has used some sort of machine to mind control characters from different parts of the Nickelodeon universe. From your headquarters, you can take a dimensional star and work your way across the multiverse using randomized pathways. Within this rogue-like adventure, there are different ways to fight. You can fight in an arena, where you'll fight multiple characters, and once you wipe them off the map, you proceed. You'll also fight to unlock new characters in this mode, 1v1. There are even rest stops for you to refill your life, and games to play like "Whack a Bot" and "Bust Balloons" to get bonus in game currency. There is also the "make it to the end of the stage" platforming game, but avoid these on the path if you can.
While you're fighting in arenas, you'll gain the first of three currencies, Nickelodeon blimps. Defeating the enemies nets you these with ease. The other two are slime, and maybe purple gak which you gain at the end of each level or fight. You'll use this to spend at the different shops during the campaign. The shops will net you different buffs and items. You can even buy more lives, as you start with one. These help immensely through the campaign, but spend wisely as the currency gain can be scarce on that first run through. Once you lose that one life (and you will), Clockwork will bring you back to headquarters, and tell you you have to start over. There is help at the headquarters though.
While you're in HQ, you can go to a shop to get permanent upgrades, or perks, to help you through the campaign. Nora Wakeman (My Life as a Teenage Robot) is there to exchange your slime for attachable perks. These stay on and work for all characters. You can get up to 6 badges at once, and that's after you unlock them with Gak. You can also upgrade the perks with more slime. If you have one that regains some life at the beginning of every stage, you can upgrade it to a larger amount until it maxes out. There's a full dojo run by Master Splinter (TMNT) where you can train your unlocked characters without having to go to the title screen. Gary (Spongebob) is also available to add cosmetics and different characters to the screen. But don't waste your resources.
You'll need those three forms of currency and every store on the planet to get through the first playthrough. And I say the first playthrough, because I'm giving you a little spoiler. At the end of every level, a boss awaits. Sometimes it's the Jellyfish King, and sometimes it's Shredder (and no, he's not playable in this game). The bosses usually have 3 to 4 phases, and a life bar at the top of the screen. They are mostly stationary, and have a couple of big, but extremely predictable moves. You can usually destroy them within minutes. You move on to the next level (?), and these levels are named "Wilderness, Metropolis, and Outer Space", but that seems to mean absolutely nothing, because you'll fight wherever the game wants you to. Once you are done, and you fight Vlad Plasmius, he tells you that he's not the REAL Vlad Plasmius, and Clockwork rewinds time and makes you start ALL OVER. You do this more than once, and it is a waste, unless you want to get all those cool cosmetic unlockables. Remember though, you aren't unlocking characters. They're available right out the gate. The bottom line is that this mode is skippable. Skip it. You can unlock things in Arcade mode.
There are 25 characters in this game, with 4 more DLC promised later on. If you played the first Nick All-Star Brawl, you know the controversy behind it. None of the characters had voices, and the character list was lacking. Eventually, Brawl 1 fixed that, while adding Shredder and other favorite Nickelodeon characters. You would think they would all return in this one, but sadly, some key characters are missing, or replaced. Leonardo and Michelangelo are in the first game, where Raphael and Donatello are here in the sequel. Powdered Toast Man is now a shop character in the campaign. Sandy from Spongebob has been replaced by Squidward. I don't want to speculate on why this changed, but it also leads me to my next point.
Again, the character voices are here. Raphael is voiced by Rob Paulsen, who is same voice as the cartoon, and Tara Strong is Ember Mclain (Danny Phantom), but the voices of Ren And Stimpy are clearly not here. Come to think of it, I think only Ren speaks. I can say most of the original voices are here, including the entire Spongebob cast, and Jenny The Robot. The music though is not good. Remember when you got a Smash character, you got 10 to 30+ tracks with that character. In Brawl 2, there is not one licensed theme. No opening from Ren And Stimpy. No Spongebob music. Nothing. I know what you're thinking, this is kind of nit picky, but the music in it's place is no replacement for the original tunes. Mods are coming.
Now from the main menu, because you're skipping the campaign, you have quite a few options. You can go right into local battle, and fight people in your house, or computer players up to level 9. You can also go online, and do a ranked match, a quick match where you can do 1v1, 2v2 or free for all, or you can create and join lobbies. All lobbies can be password protected, and you can set your own rules all the way down to stocks, and time. I found this to be the best way to be online, as there was no one available for ranked match at the day of release. There's also single player, which takes you through a straightforward arcade mode, where you just cut down fighters all the way to the boss. You can also play any of the minigames, and do a boss rush, which is just arcade mode with the bosses. The dojo is where you go to lab your characters in training mode.
All characters have light attacks, specials, and charge attacks. If you put in a different direction when you hit these buttons, the attacks change. So if you just hit the special, a projectile could come out depending on the character. You also have you recovery moves, which is usually up + special. These leave you wide open. If someone is guarding the edge of the stage, waiting for you to come back, and you've used your recovery, say goodbye if you don't air dodge that charged up attack. Yes you have blocks, and throws. All the stuff from Smash is here, and that's a good thing, but I definitely think you should find a character and stick to them for a while. Find a main, because everyone is absolutely different.
If you hold L2, and use a special or light attack, you can used enhanced versions of your attacks. The slime meter under your life percentage will build up based on offense and defense. You can build up to three levels. And if you have a full meter, you can unleash an ultimate attack while holding the L2 and hitting light attack. The higher the percentage, the more these flashy attacks will knock you off screen. Some of these are pretty cool, and you can use them on the bosses. These ultimate attacks will hit up to three opponents at once, and all have the same amount of damage. There's not much of a whiff if you miss, but you do lose all your slime meter.
All that to be said, there are some questionable mechanics in this game. The music gets EXTREMELY loud for some reason at the height of the fight. Some of the supers are just graphical nightmares, and they don't look like they are hitting the opponent at all. April has a move where if you press her light attack, it just juggles giant opponents. The announcer is obnoxious. Sometimes he announces the names of characters as if he's questioning them as in "Donatello?!" The campaign is just a non fun thing to grind through. It wants to be a rogue like, but even the game tells you that once you're finished, all your currency goes away. At least let me keep it and buy some of the cosmetics. On the plus side, the graphics are great here for the most part, and I can tell they put a lot into the levels. Garfield's Dream stage is pretty cool.
Finally, and probably the part that hurts this game the most, is the movement. The only way I can describe it is "clunky". To walk, you just have to tilt the stick. To run, you just push the stick the direction you want to go. Sometimes, your character breaks out in a full fledge sprint. There's a bit of button delay, so if I wanted to do three neutral light attacks, that first one doesn't come out my a whole second, and by then, I'm getting spiked off stage, because I can't cancel my input presses with a block, for their already registered. In normal terms, the button and movement don't do what I want them to, and online is WORSE.
The bosses don't explode, or dramatically die. The screen just fades out, while you last hit doesn't even graphically register. I had to turn the music down. The AI, on hard, is SUPER easy. There were times where it just self destructed. The campaign lets you choose different paths, and it's still not enough to make me play through it again. This could all be patchwork, and I think that's possible.
Do I think it could be a contender? Yes. Do I think it's a throw away fighting game for you and your non smash bros loving friends? Yes. DO I THINK IT SHOULD BRING BACK THE PREQUEL'S CHARACTERS? YES! This is not necessarily a smash clone, but it's not it's placeholder either.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Joseph is the resident streamer for Gaming Nexus. He grew up playing video games as early as the Atari 2600. He knows a little about a lot of video games, and loves a challenge. He thinks that fanboys are dumb, and enjoys nothing more than to see rumors get completely shut down. He just wants to play games, and you can watch him continue his journey at Games N Moorer on Youtube, Twitch, Twitter, and Facebook gaming!View Profile