Developed by Fair Play Labs and published by GameMill Entertainment, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is the second melee brawler featuring our favorite Nickelodeon characters. Melee brawler is a genre that has been mastered by Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros and no other title has even come close to it in terms of gameplay, game design, and mechanics however after playing Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl 2, this might be changing. While it may be behind Nintendo’s title at this point, Fair Play Labs seem to be catching up and just after 2 years of the first game, they have managed to deliver a sequel that excels in everything across the board. This is our review of the PS5 version of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 in which we battle across iconic locations with nostalgic characters from our favorite Nickelodeon franchises.
After booting into Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, you are taken straight to the main menu from where you can choose whatever mode you want to play. If you are looking for the tutorial, it is hidden away in another menu which I will recommend that you definitely try out just to figure out which button does what. If you have been playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate or any other similar platform brawler, you will take some time getting used to the controls of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2. The base controls are fairly easy to understand, and all characters share them with each other. You have your light attack, strong attack, and special attack with different variations based on directional input or jumps. You also have your shield, the ability to run, and a taunt. Charging up your Slime meter allows you to unleash a Super attack.
The goal in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is the same as any other platform brawler as you must deal enough damage to your enemies and once their damage numbers are triple, unleash a charge attack and hit them out of the frame to eliminate them. There are multiple modes such as having a fixed health and you must hit your enemies enough to bring their health down to zero or the classic hit them enough and then blast them off the screen. You can set the rules however you want before a custom match which gives you the freedom to duke it out with either three other players or CPU opponents. The moveset for each of the fighters is unique and dynamic and I love the fact that the game allows you to chain together different attacks and use them in a flow that could have you juggling the enemy on the ground.
Coming to the roster of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, I cannot really say if I am really happy with it or not happy with it. Of course, I am comparing it with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which came with a whooping 100+ strong character lineup, and in comparison, the 25-character lineup of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 just feels not enough. But there are a lot of good options in there and I think that there is a good balance between different types of fighters as well. You will find characters from different Nickelodeon franchises like SpongeBob SquarePants, Hey Arnold, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Wild Thornberries, and more but the character selection might put you off a little.
For example, from The Wild Thornberries, you will find Nigel in the character list but not Eliza or any other character like Donnie which could have a perfect character for the title. There are only two turtles from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and you have four different characters just from SpongeBob SquarePants. I am not complaining but I would have loved to see more characters in a game that is an officially licensed product of Nickelodeon since they have the licensing for all of these shows and cartoons. We may get to see DLC characters arrive in the game later but that certainly takes out the charm of the base game. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate received DLC characters, but its base game had over 100 characters already and that was amazing. It had something for everyone. Still, one solid point of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2’s cast is that it offers a diverse lineup that is surely to fit a vast player base of different playstyles. You have heavy characters like Reptar that land powerful attacks and can cut through incoming attacks but lack the speed and agility of smaller characters like Jimmy Neutron and Garfield. Other characters like Rafael and Donatello excel at landing powerful moves and are a good balance between damage dealing and agility.
Another cool thing about all of these characters is that their movesets are based on things and tasks that they do in their respective franchises. For example, Jimmy Neutron is loaded to the teeth with his own wacky inventions and some of his moves will see Jimmy use them for offense and defense. Probably the most iconic one, SpongeBob SquarePants blows bubbles into your enemy’s face. Donatello comes with his bō staff, Rafael uses his dual sai while April has her mic. Other small details are also included such as Donatello being a nerd-head, uses his own crafted bombs as an attack. Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender has fire and water attacks for both defense and agility so there is a lot to see in these characters in their moveset which is amazing attention to detail by the developer.
One of the major additions to the gameplay of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is the new Slime mechanic which acts like a power bar from Street Fighter. Slime is a fighting mechanic that is filled the more you hit your enemies with powerful attacks and chain-together attacks. It has three bars and once you fill all three, you can unleash a powerful Super Attack which comes with a funky animation video as well. However, if you do not want to wait until your Super is charged, you can incorporate Slime into your regular attacks as well by spending a stored bar. Any attack that uses a Slime bar becomes more powerful and effective and they could be a game changer in tough situations. Slime cannot only be used for offense as well because you can boost your defensive moves by spending Slime as well. If you are falling down, spend some of the slime and you can boost your jump or dodge to gain a little extra distance to survive another round. Slime plays a major role in the combat aspect of Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl 2 and you cannot expect to dominate the battlefield without its use.
To duke out these battles, you will be heading to some of the best locations from different Nickelodeon franchises. There are 26 different levels, and you will find yourself brawling across dynamic battlefields or static arenas in these locations. If you have watched even some of Nickelodeon’s shows or cartoons, you will find at least some familiar locations such as an African safari level from The Wild Thornberries where you fight on their RV or the Jelly Fields from SpongeBob SquarePants. Each location is meticulously detailed and changes dynamically during battles. Levels from the Avatar franchise look absolutely gorgeous as well.
Another major addition to Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is a Campaign mode which offers a brand-new roguelike approach to the game. It features the villain Plasmius who is invading different timelines and worlds to disrupt them, and you have to use portals to travel to these worlds, save different characters, and defeat the boss. The career mode has its own menu screen which you can navigate around to purchase new perks and status effects, train with Master Splinter, and access cool new costumes as well. As you fight and unlock new characters here, you can complete the Campaign runs with them as well. The Campaign runs are a roguelike tree sort of path that you must take, and each step offers a different challenge. These include 1v1 fights with other characters to unlock them, shopping for supplies, mini-games and you have to reach the end and defeat the boss in a single health bar. These runs are randomized every time and if you lose, you just return back to the main Campaign area to try again. It has its own resources and is completely separate from the rest of the game giving you a completely different experience from the base game.
For competitive players, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 features a separate Online mode where you can jump into casual or ranked games. This is limited to four players maximum as well, which is a little bummer because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate allows eight players to play at the same time and that is absolute chaos. However, I think it is best for Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl 2 to just not shoot for the stars and expand gradually. The four-player matches are silky smooth as well and the game handles everything really well. There are no packet losses of any sort which means that the server backbone for the title is pretty good.
If you are trying to play solo online, matchmaking is quite good, and it does not take you long enough to find a match depending on the settings you set. I do not remember a single time when I had to wait for longer than 50 seconds to find a game and jump into it. The community seems pretty active as of now which is a good sign and I hope that players stick around to keep it alive at least until the next game comes out. Being a multiplatform title is surely going to help this because Super Smash Bros Ultimate is only on Nintendo Switch and players want something similar to that on other platforms as well.
Coming to the visuals and the audio design of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, you will find pretty basic visuals. The animations are super silky, and you will notice fluid motions with every key that you press in the game. The level design is spectacular and the special effects in these locations just look brilliant. Based on the franchise a level is from, it features stunning detail, and you will actually feel that you are inside that particular franchise while battling other players. The same can be said about the soundtrack and audio design of the game as well.
The menu music is catchy, and I loved the Campaign music as well. Apart from that, you will find themed music tracks on different levels. The voice acting for different characters is pretty solid as well. Technically, the PS5 version is pretty stable with little to no framerate freezing, dips, or any other glitch. Everything performs exactly how it is supposed to perform and even the online matches are a breeze to play without any connection drops or anything.
While I missed playing the first title in the franchise, I do have tons of hours invested into the Super Smash Bros franchise and some decent hours into Ubisoft’s Brawlhalla as well. If you consider these three franchises in a direct comparison, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 just blows Brawlhalla away, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still a winner in my opinion, but it is limited to just one platform. The main advantage of Nickelodeon All-Stars Brawl 2 is that it is a multi-platform title, and it features some of the greatest characters from different Nickelodeon universes. After playing Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, I can easily say that this franchise has a bright future ahead and with some more love, it can easily go head-on-head with the next Super Smash Bros title.
As of now, we can easily say that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a franchise that is here to stay and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is a clear example of this. The level of commitment and dedication to the franchise shown by the developers has proven this fact and it is evident from the game as well. Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is a competitive fighting game that has the potential to become the Super Smash Bros. of all platforms. While Super Smash Bros. might be limited to only Nintendo, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is here to satisfy the melee brawler craving of players on all platforms with its solid fighting mechanics, beautiful locations, an amazing character selection, and high bits of nostalgia. If you love melee brawlers or just enjoy playing competitive co-op titles, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 should be high in your must-play list and it could easily become your next get-together favorite.
Final Score: 9.0/10