This past Tuesday, Nickelodeon released their entry to the fighting games genre, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. From an outside perspective, it just looks like a cute game for kids and cartoon lovers. Classic Nickelodeon characters like Spongebob, Aang, Danny Phantom, and even the giant reptile monster from Rugrats, Reptar, face off against each other in slapstick chaos. However, in the competitive fighting game world, it’s something more.
The game caught the attention of many fighting game fans including Blake seniors Christopher Abangma, Kaden Mont, and Jacob Funes who gave insight into the world of competitive fighting games. “[Fighting games are] really strategic and expressive,” Abangma responds. “The feeling of self-improvement, the unique characters, etc. if done right, they’re also very visually pleasing. It kinda feels like being an anime character if I [c]ould describe it. Getting better and showing off, being strategic and all that.”
Mont adds, “[Fighting games] give me a chance to experience meeting others and playing with them, it’s always fun when I can get a group together to play Super Smash Bros or go to a local tournament and play against other players.”
All-Star Brawl is a platform fighter, a fighting game genre popularized by Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros series, and is mostly inspired by its second installment for the Gamecube, Super Smash Bros Melee. Instead of having a health bar like a traditional fighter, players have a percentage value. The more they get hit, the higher the percentage gets, and the further they get knocked back when hit. The goal is to knock your opponent not only off the fighting platform but off the bounds of the play zone.
“I’m excited to see how it plays compared to other popular platform fighters like Rivals [of Aether] and Smash,” Funes replies.
What makes platform fighters special is that “It’s a different experience to traditional fighters. Basically how you move and position yourself is much more important,” explains Abangma. Or to put it into simpler terms…
“The platforms,” Funes responds.
So what makes Nickelodeon’s attempt at the genre special? Abangma claims, “The thought of a Nickelodeon game developed with competitive play in mind was amusing as is, but its development seems to be leading to a very promising game, and it could be what expands the platform fighter genre to something beyond just Smash Brothers. Not to mention the fact that it features Rollback Netcode, an online system that is very good at preserving the gameplay quality of poor [internet] connections, which especially in times of pandemic where most people get their competition online has become a very important part of fighting games.”
The game is fast, the characters are fun to play, the mechanics are detailed and balanced, and there is an actual opening for competitive play. The “Rollback” system is one of the main appeals to this game; it’s a feature not commonly integrated into online fighting games, but one that will make online competitive bearable. “Rollback is adjusting the frames so that you can have better network connectivity, it comes in handy in case someone’s wifi is horrible,” explains Mont. Having Rollback in not only a platform fighter, but a platform fighter that plays smoothly and has high competitive capabilities is something game-changing for fighting game fans.
“I think this game will be competitive but to what extent only time will tell, but it does have potential,” Abangma reckons.
With all this hype for the game, one may ask, will All-Star Brawl challenge Smash’s popularity in the competitive scene? Unfortunately, that may be shooting too high. Abangma assesses, “I don’t think it will challenge Smash Brothers because Smash is an iconic series, [Smash] Ultimate being the best-selling fighting game of all time. But more is always better so this is a welcome addition to the platform fighter genre.”
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is out on the Switch, Playstation, Xbox and will be available on PC. Cross-platform has been rumored, but not yet confirmed.
“Cross-platform is always a good addition to a game, it allows you to play with anyone on any console, and doesn’t needlessly round-up and gate off people to one console,” Abangma comments. “A lot of people know how annoying it is to have the same game as a friend but be able to play with them because of platform locks.”
Fighting game fans have been for this release since its announcement and can’t wait to learn another roster of characters and all their tricks, even if they’re all silly cartoon characters.