Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is ready to bring your favorite cartoon characters into a slapstick fray – starting with CatDog and April O'Neil, both of whom were just announced at today's Future Games Show.
CatDog was a much-requested character after the game was announced earlier this year, but don't expect any of the live-action Nick characters to join the battle anytime soon (or ever). That's because the team at Ludosity has thought long and hard about which Nickelodeon characters to include and why, and won't just add characters willy-nilly. They're also well-aware of the Super Smash Bros. comparisons, but feel Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is bringing something totally unique to the fight.
We got a chance to sit down with Joel Nyström, producer and CEO at developer Ludosity for the Future Games Show and learn a bit more about what Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl has to offer players now and in the future.
When Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was announced, the internet reacted with as much fervor as you'd expect – after all, many of us who spend our spare time on Twitter are the children of the Nickelodeon heyday. Threads were started over who should be included in the game but were mysteriously absent, like the Angry Beavers and CatDog, while others wondered if any of the live-action characters from shows like iCarly or Victorious would be added to the game later on.
As far as the first question goes, CatDog was announced for Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl during the Future Games Show – so fans of the two-headed cat/dog hybrid will be happy to know it's a playable character at launch. And April O'Neill of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fame has joined, as well!
But when it comes to the live-action characters, well, don't hold your breath. Not only is the Ludosity team relatively unaware of Nickelodeon's spate of live-action shows ("they haven't aired in Sweden," says Nyström), but the team feels like they may not be the right fit. There goes my hopes and dreams of playing Ariana Grande in another video game...
"I'd assume they don't feature a giant, two-ton hammer suddenly produced from your back pocket," Nyström says when asked about including live-action fighters. "There's just so much weird and zany stuff to draw from the animated shows! And there is no shortage of amazing characters there." To be fair, whereas Smash Bros. can easily incorporate existing game characters with a well-known fighting style or weapon, it's a lot harder to pull in two live-action stepbrothers into a brawler game.
Despite the lack of live-action fighters, the team "fought to include" some unexpected fighters, like Powdered Toast Man from The Ren & Stimpy Show. Ultimately, the team at Ludosity picked characters they "felt had opportunities for unique move-sets, and fan favorites," explains Nyström. "Our process for creating the move-sets involves the entire team to come up with ideas, we collaborate on an online whiteboard and just draw and draw, silly stuff, cool stuff, anything goes. Our core team of designers then narrows it down to something coherent. As the characters are implemented, we put an enormous focus on playtesting – where we balance and tweak so that it plays well. In this stage [of development], we've also sometimes changed out a move if it didn't quite work, but most characters have had only minimal changes."
Super Nickelodeon All-Star Smash Brawl
Nyström and the team at Ludosity know that Super Smash Bros. is the blueprint from which Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl was drawn – but they believe they've got something new to bring to the table. Nyström calls the comparison "fair", saying "Smash Bros. is the grandfather of the game," but he's quick to point out some distinctions.
"Every new platform fighter brings something unique to the fight and I personally can't wait to see what this genre can become in the future. With Nick All-Star Brawl, we have made a more streamlined experience with a control scheme that draws from the lessons of the entire scene – while at the same time keeping it competitive. And above all else, fun!" We'll have to play Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl to see what the new control scheme feels like, but streamlined is always a good thing, especially in colorful brawlers that can often lean towards the chaotic.
Ludosity is behind another streamlined platform fighter called Slap City, so the devs are well-versed when it comes to making a successful brawler. "Slap City has an extremely diverse, fun roster in terms of playlists," Nyström says when asked what the team has learned from the 2018 game. "That and the very strong core gameplay mechanics is why so many have fallen in love with it, I think. We hope to continue this legacy with All-Star Brawl and even expand it."
It'll be exciting to see how Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl plays, how each character fits into the fight, and how the Ludosity team plans on growing what is already set to be an iconic game full of iconic characters.
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is set to release fall 2021 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, and Nintendo Switch.