Two years ago, Fair Play Labs and Ludosity entered the platform fighting game ring with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. The game was decent enough, but it was clear that the core “Smash Bros. with Nickelodeon characters” idea had more to offer than what was delivered. Now, with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2, the two studios are attempting to realize that potential.. However, while some welcome adjustments have been made, there are a few important flaws–and some mind-boggling subtractions–that once again keep the full potential of this idea out of reach.
The most notable improvement Nick Brawl 2 makes over other platform fighters is its control scheme, which carries over from the previous game and yet still feels genuinely innovative. Character movement, shields, and throws are all standard fare: You move your character with the stick, press a shoulder button to grab for a throw, and press a different shoulder button to bring up shields or dodge opponents’ moves.
Attacking, on the other hand, uses a control scheme quite different from what you might expect from a platform fighter. Each character has three main attack buttons–light attack, charge attack, and special attack–and each button uses a different move if the joystick is held in a certain direction. Charge attacks in most other platform fighters have shared a button with light attacks, but Nick Brawl 2 separates them. This is a smart improvement, as it makes for easier combo execution in the heat of battle and allows for a few extra moves for each character. This game also made me appreciate jumping with a button instead of tilting the joystick up–by dedicating a button to jumping, using a upward charge attack becomes easier, as I don’t accidentally jump instead of attacking. I never used the button option in Smash, but Nick Brawl 2 has made me come around to the idea.
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