Nickelodeon All Stars Brawl was finally released on October 5 on Steam, after an unbearable wait; here is our verdict after a short week of handing out chestnuts with SpongeBob & Co.'s consorts. So, success or premature runaway?
In the small world of platform fighting games, there is an unmistakable colossus who reigns supreme over this video game niche: Super Smash Bros . Of course, there are some very pleasant alternatives like Brawlhalla or Slap City. But so far none of them have been able to even challenge the throne of this all-powerful monarch.
So it was with overwhelming enthusiasm that the community welcomed the announcement of Nickelodeon All Stars Brawl last July. For the first time, a title seems to have all the arguments to compete with the champion in all categories; a three-star cast that smacks of nostalgia , a tasty cartoonish and good-natured atmosphere, a frenetic gameplay which honors the fundamentals of the genre and developers with exemplary investment ... here is a recipe which puts water to themouth!
A colorful cast
We therefore find ourselves joystick in hand in front of a colorful home screen, full of expectations after a promotional campaign with little onions. Neither one nor two, here we are in “training” mode to familiarize ourselves with this colorful cast. Currently, the game has a total of 20 playable characters, straight out of the US studio.
SpongeBob, star of the studio, is obviously at the rendezvous with his lifelong sidekick, Patrick the starfish, as well as Sandy the squirrel. Avatar fans will be able to choose to play as Aang, Toph or Korra . Lovers of ninja turtles , for their part, will certainly prefer to multiply the pirouettes with Leonardo or Michelangelo, unless they fall back on reporter April O'Neil.
The stars ofNickelodeon are obviously in the game.
We also find the awful Ren & Stimpy , protagonists of the eponymous show, the inimitable Nigel Delajungle ( La Famille Delajungle ), Helga Pataki ( Hey Arnold ), the excellent Michat-Michien, or Reptar of the Rugrats.
The list is completed by Danny Phantom, Lincoln and Lucy Loud (Welcome among the Louds), Oblina (Funny monsters), Toastman , and the terrible Zim (Zim the Invader). A roster which perfectly captures the crazy atmosphere of the studio ... and which obviously leaves room for many other famous faces, distilled over the course of future DLCs.
The sensations are there
But once the game has started, this relative frustration gives wayto a ultra-fast gameplay, more nervous than the recent opus of Smash. The movements are lively, the controls precise and responsive; overall, the first contact is quite enjoyable and the sensations are immediately apparent . An impression further reinforced by the absence of technical barriers, which allows even a child to master the controls in no time.
Regulars of Smash and others will find their marks very quickly , there is no doubt. But to fully enjoy the game, it will however tame some additional mechanics that allow NASB to stand out. The most notable is certthe dash , which offers considerable freedom of movement in addition to the traditional double jump.
The gripping system ( “grabs” ) also changes considerably compared to the Nintendo series. In NASB, all the characters can carry the opponent on their back to throw him into the void, like Donkey Kong in the Smash series.
Another considerable difference: l a classification of attacks. In Smash, characters have lateral variations of their normal attacks, special attacks, and their smashes. Here, the hits are classified as low, high, or medium. One way to introduce a shifumi style ynamic . High attacks beat medium attacks; the latter take the upper hand over the low attacks, which in turn beat the high attacks. An interesting dynamic, very common in combat games but quite insignificant in Smash. In practice, this allows'introduce an additional layer of complexity that is quite interesting to explore.
Some cards introduce some pretty funny mechanics… … but others are just unbearable.
This depth is further accentuated by the number of moves , more important than at Nintendo (twenty at Ludosity against a dozen on average for the parent company of Mario). Ludosity did an excellent job of expressing the personality of each character through their moveset. All of them obviously have a variety of moves inspired by cartoons, from the bubbles of SpongeBob to the flames of Reptar through the contortions of Michat-Michien. Overall, it is enough to have watched the corresponding cartoon to know what we can expect from each. At this level, the game is a real success.
A sound design far from Nickel
L Another point that immediately strikes once the excitement has subsided is the ound design . But this time, it is not a pleasant surprise, far from it. The sound of the different cards are quite heterogeneous; sometimes very successful, sometimes mediocre, they do not really leave an indelible memory. But where the real problem lies is in the dubbing of the characters who are … simply non-existent!?
O rage, o despair! Have I therefore only waited for this infamy? Certainly, Ludosity has promised that the dubbing would arrive in a future update. But as it stands, this absence gives a sidequite empty, impersonal to the game and clearly leaves a taste of unfinished business . A particularly frustrating silence in a game yet filled with endearing characters with legendary lines. So where are the famous “Iiiii’m ready! ” by SpongeBob, or the famous “ Ssssmashing!” by Nigel Delajungle? A huge disappointment.
At this level, NASB is satisfied with the strict minimum, namely the sound effects which allow to identify the attacks with the ear. An relatively essential component of any self-respecting game, and which is not enough to fill this crying void.
Prohibition on blinking
Once the characters and mechanics explored, it is time to rub shoulders with some real players to check all these first impressions. First observation: all the good sensations felt in solo are still there. The precision of the movements, the timing, the anticipation and reflexes play a major role; no doubt, the basics of the genre are there. We expected no less from Ludosity at this level.
The other good news is that the rollback system which makes online games more fluid works admirably well. Excellent news which guarantees a form of fairness in this very precise kind of game. Unlike many current fighting games, have very rarely felt the effects of latency.
But morebattles are linked, the more divisive the gameplay is, the fault of its devilish appearance. Once comfortable with the controller in hand, there is no longer any question of blinking your eyes too often ! The majority of weak shots do indeed lead to big combos, which can start again at the slightest mistake. The result: the rounds followed one another at full speed. You might as well say it right away: we'll have to stock up on caffeinated beverages!
This dynamic finds its source in severalmechanical. It comes first and foremost from the very short cooldown between hits, which allows certain attacks to be spam like a madman. It is also due to the number of defensive options, quite limited compared to the Smash series. In NASB, to survive, there is only one solution: ê be methodical in your movements and cautious in your approach.
We must also mention the combo system, permissive in the extreme. It is therefore all the more important not to be hit at all, because the slightest opening is often synonymous with a deadly combo. A situation interesting for skilled players because of the permanent tension it generates. On the other hand, it can quickly become frustrating for the less comfortable players.
A fight that is still raw from the formwork
NASB is thereIt is to be the first game to have this zero to death problem. But traditionally, these worries tend to emerge long after the game's release, once the more successful players have developed advanced techniques. On the other hand, NASB has been out for just over a week, so we can legitimately worry about the state of the
As it stands, we must therefore admit that Nickelodeon All Stars Brawl is still very rough from the formwork. A review tinged with a bit of assumed bad faith; indeed, developers are particularly invested. Just days after release, they've already patched several of the more problematic mechanics , like Sandy's Endless Combo. Once all these mechanics are better balanced and polished, we could well be dealing with a real contender of the Smash series, because the foundation is solid, fun, and full of promise, which wemakes you want to spend ... the Sponge on certain defects.