While it didn’t have the Super Smash Bros. series worried, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl proved to be quite an entertaining brawler when it released 2021.
Gaining itself quite a legion of fans, it’s a title I expected to act as a base, with considerable support over a number of years adding more characters and the like. It happened to an extent, but here we are now with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, a sequel that initially seems rather unnecessary but quickly proves its worth.
Jump into Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 and you soon find that most of the characters from the original game make a return. There’s the likes of Reptar, April O’Neil, Aang and SpongeBob – fan favourites that just had to make the cut. Of course, there are some new faces, too, such as Grandma Gertie, Squidward and Jimmy Neutron. Donatello and Raphael are in this time as well, although Leonardo and Michelangelo are absent. You win some, you lose some, I guess. In any case, there’s a decent but not exhaustive roster of characters for you to play as, with more planned to arrive as DLC after launch.
Even with characters that have made a return, you can’t rest on your laurels, as each and every one of them has undergone some changes. Character movesets have been revised across the board, and Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 also has an impressive range of new features that change up the gameplay considerably. You can now dodge, for example, and instead of blocking, characters now put up a shield that can be destroyed by opponents if used too much. There’s a new slime mechanic, too, that allows you to enhance certain skills and attacks. Fill your slime meter and you can even make use of an ultimate ability. It’s perhaps not quite as effective as it should be, but it’s fun to use at least.
It’s safe to say that Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 feels quite different to play overall. Aside from having more moves and abilities at your disposal, characters feel a little lighter on their feet – perhaps a little too light at time, in fact – while attacks themselves are weightier. Ultimately, the combat is still nowhere as tight as it is in the likes of Super Smash Bros., but it’s an improvement on the first Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl and it’s solid enough to provide long-term fun.
Pretty much all the modes from the original game return, so you can take on opponents in arcade mode if you wish, battle against local players or the CPU in Free Mode, or take the action online and compete in casual or ranked matches. New to Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, though, is a campaign mode, which is essentially a roguelike.
You’ll start by playing as SpongeBob, making your way through stages in which you need to defeat waves of enemies, take on brainwashed opponents one-one-one, or talk to NPCs and select power ups that they have to offer. Soon, though, this mode really opens up, with a hub where you can change characters to those you’ve unlocked, purchase perks and a whole lot more. It’s a great new addition, especially for those who plan on spending lots of time with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 solo. Multiple difficulty levels are even available, allowing players to tweak it to their abilities.
Playing the PS5 version of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 for review, it’s clearly a step up from its predecessor visually, with nicer-looking character models and stages. Voice acting is generally good across the board, too, which is nice considering how much dialogue there is in campaign mode. In terms of performance, I haven’t really noticed any issues on PS5 – the game appears to target 60fps and stick to it. Loading times are pretty good as well.
Going into Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, I have to admit I was rather cynical. I couldn’t help but ask, was this sequel even necessary? It becomes clear after spending just a little time with it, however, that it is warranted. While it’s a shame that some characters have been cut, the extent that the gameplay has been improved and shaken up here is commendable. It’s those who value single-player content that truly win with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, though, with its roguelike campaign proving to be a genuine surprise.