Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 is a celebration of Nickelodeon’s timeless cartoons, and it is yet another take on platform-based fighting. Although 2021’s Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was amusing, its presentation and features were a bit sparse. However, All-Star Brawl 2 meaningfully builds upon and expands this experience.
Crossover games thrive on their character rosters, and All-Star Brawl 2’s roster features fun picks. It includes popular characters from SpongeBob Squarepants, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Danny Phantom, and many more. The roster also features curious switches from the previous game’s. Out of the twenty-five launch characters, fourteen are back from the original while eleven are brand new. El Tigre and Angry Beavers have replaced CatDog and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters’ representative fighters. This shake-up keeps the game fresh while still keeping old favorites, even if switching in Donatello and Raphael for Leonardo and Michelangelo feels like playing musical chairs. However, even returning characters have adjusted movesets with new tricks that lead to more over-the-top shenanigans. For example, Garfield has a speed-up boost, and Aang now channels all elements.
Campaign Mode is among the game’s most notable additions. Its progression is rogue-like inspired as players prepare at home base and then venture into three semi-random maps that each feature a boss. Campaign Mode initially feels impressive as it contains a fair variety of stages. These include minigames, NPC encounters, stores, restorative fountains, and so on. As players complete more runs, NPCs feature new dialogue depending on the “context” of the plot, and these lines’ voiceover is all entertaining. Earning three different types of currency generally feels balanced. Buying perks, slots, and hub cosmetics provides a sense of progression across runs, and upgrading perks a few times really provides a tangible boost. However, the mode feels slightly repetitive across multiple playthroughs with numerous familiar encounters. Additional stage variety would have been appreciated, and cohesive theming would have helped maps feel more immersive. In general, having to beat the mode multiple times to see the whole plot feels too forced, and I was mainly looking forward to hearing new dialogue.
The game expands upon the original’s easy-to-understand mechanics. All-Star Brawl 2 adds side directional moves and additional dodging options, and moving, dodging, and attacking all feel solid in general. The notable new addition is the Slime Gauge, which draws inspiration from traditional 2D fighting games. Players can spend a bar to empower or cancel moves, and they can also spend two bars to “burst” and pause their movement. Since players cannot recover for a while after being launched, this “burst” can potentially turn the match’s momentum. Each character can also unleash a super with three bars, which often results in a fun cinematic. These Slime techs almost feel a bit extraneous, but they do set the game apart from other platform fighters. Being able to decide whether to use the gauge for offense or defense is interesting, even if the options are a bit situational. As a bit of an aside, the CPU opponents and bosses are not particularly tough and can make silly mistakes even on higher difficulties.
The game’s visuals have been notably improved across the board. The stage backgrounds are much more elaborate with plenty of detail. Although some stages like the Flying Dutchman stage have been brought back, they feature so much added detail that they feel brand new. Furthermore, the characters are much more illuminated this time around, which makes them pop in a lively way that is really appropriate for Nickelodeon characters. Another touch is that some of the costumes change characters’ silhouettes rather than just adding a hat or swapping their color palette. The game’s soundtrack is also full of catchy stage tunes that also fit the whimsical nature of Nickelodeon’s universes. The Jukebox Mode also allows players to listen to the game’s extensive roster of tunes as a character dances on screen.
The user interface has also been improved over the original game’s. The menu backgrounds feature dynamic effects, the character select screen uses 3D models, and some elements like the pause menu are more thoughtfully placed. The game also includes brief character bio blurbs and labels showing each stage’s series of origin. Being able to select stages by their layout is also quite handy, as well. However, there are still a few things that seem a bit stiff. The arcade and campaign map layouts are just connected stars in space. Furthermore, at the time of this review, some of the functionality is weird. In order to Save and Quit out of Campaign Mode, players need to do so mid battle rather than the map. Since all of the control scheme changes are handled through the character select screen, changing controls mid campaign also does not seem possible.
Another slight downer is that the game’s extras and unlockables feel standard. While the game includes a handful of extra modes like Boss Rush and mini-games, these are more like diversions. Furthermore, only having two mini-games feels a bit sparse, even if the Balloon challenges are custom tailored to each character. Players can also earn gallery images and trophies for completing Campaign Mode runs and beating Arcade Mode, but these also feel a bit basic. Completing Campaign Mode stages can also award additional color palettes, but they mostly feel generic and not more appealing than the existing palettes.
In the grand scheme of things, Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 truly feels like a sequel with its sheer number of visual improvements, roster switches, and mechanical additions. For those who have not played the original or are on the fence this time around, this game genuinely does provide a compelling alternate take on platform fighting. For those who remotely enjoy Nickelodeon’s characters and are not expecting anything revolutionary, this game is certainly worth picking up.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Review
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Review
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 features whimsical backgrounds, a diverse roster of characters, and catchy tunes. Its blend of mechanics and Campaign Mode provide a fun take on platform fighting.
Diverse cast of characters
Campaign Mode’s variety and voiceover are entertaining
Unique blend of platform fighting and traditional 2D mechanics