Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is a crossover platform fighting game that was released in late 2021 and features beloved Nicktoon characters duking it out. It’s overall a fun game with intense, fast-paced gameplay that works well whether you prefer to play competitively or goof off with friends. It’s not without its flaws, like basic attacks feeling homogenous between characters and a lack of polish, but it’s undoubtedly entertaining.
Unfortunately, though, there is one big issue that really holds the video game back from reaching its true potential, and that’s that it’s missing too many of Nickelodeon’s actual “all-stars.” Of course, the roster does include some major players like SpongeBob SquarePants, Avatars Aang and Korra, CatDog, and Ren and Stimpy, but there are far too many notable absences. There are probably certain characters who pop into the heads of any Nickelodeon fans whenever they think of the popular network, but most of them won’t be found on the game’s playable roster.
Tommy Pickles was arguably Nickelodeon’s first big mascot character, yet he and the other Rugrats are missing, and only Reptar serves as the series representative. Hey Arnold!’s Arnold isn’t in, but Helga Pataki is. The Angry Beavers are nowhere to be found. Not only are Timmy Turner and his fairies excluded, but so is any reference to The Fairly Odd Parents. Otto, Reggie, and their friends must have been stuck at the beach because they couldn’t grab spots on the roster either (despite their extreme sports skills offering perfect moveset potential).
Jimmy Neutron wasn’t deemed worthy to make it in the game despite his father being added as DLC for some reason, and Jimmy’s gadgets could have led to endless possibilities for combat. Eliza Thornberry was replaced by her father as well. Only two of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made it onto the roster, which just feels wrong. There’s absolutely no sign from other series, like KaBlam!, ChalkZone, Cat Scratch, El Tigre, Sanjay and Craig, and an unfortunate number of other series have no mention at all in the game.
Instead, the developers at GameMill Entertainment decided to include memes over mascots. The Ren & Stimpy Show’s Powdered Toast Man is playable despite him only appearing in four episodes and two shorts. Nigel Thornberry being playable while Eliza isn’t is extraordinarily strange. His use for the game is only because he’s become a popular meme. There’s something truly disappointing to think that Powdered Toast Man is considered more of a “Nickelodeon All-Star” than Jimmy Neutron.
They did release three paid DLC characters, being Jenny Wakeman (My Life As A Teenage Robot), Hugh Neutron (The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius), and Rocko (Rocko’s Modern Life). Again, Hugh being included over Jimmy is devastating. Jenny and Rocko being used as afterthoughts for content released months after release instead of being playable in the base game is just as outrageous.
Even if the roster had to be on the more limited side due to either technical logistics, funding, or licensing issues, they still should have prioritized the more important Nickelodeon representatives. This game could have been a celebration of Nickelodeon’s great legacy, but it doesn’t quite do that. There’s also no future updates or paid DLC that have been announced in quite some time, so those major characters have even less hope of making it onto the roster.
If compared to its competitors, imagine Super Smash Bros. having Mario but excluding Kirby or Donkey Kong. That’s sort of what this feels like. MultiVersus may be missing some major players like Scooby-Doo, but at least the developers for that game plan on releasing characters over time for free, so anyone is still possible.
If there’s ever a sequel, which does seem likely given that GameMill’s Nickelodeon kart racing game has spawned a couple more games now, let’s hope it uses a roster that better represents the beloved network. Until then, Nickelodeon fans have good reason to feel disappointed with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl despite it still being a fun game.