Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl launched in October 2021, and now, less than two years later, a sequel is set to follow. It seems miraculous, especially considering art director Diego Hernández has said 98 percent of the game’s assets are built from scratch. But looking at how the first entry was at launch, I’m not optimistic.

All-Star Brawl had levels that could barely reach 20 frames per second upon release. The game chugged and stuttered, but even when it was working, you had to contend with clunky characters and awkward controls that paled in comparison to Super Smash Bros. and were immediately outshined by MultiVersus. It simply wasn’t good, right down to its foundations, so it’s no wonder Fair Play Labs started again from scratch.

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However, starting over is only half the battle. The one thing NASB needed most was more time in the oven. There were no voice lines at launch, getting into matches with friends was a headache, cross-platform play wasn’t supported, and the roster of fighters and stages was incredibly limited. The sequel could learn from this by spending more time getting the basics right, but given it’s only months away, things aren’t looking good.

Squidward in the reveal trailer for Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2.

Even by platform fighting standards, two years isn’t enough. Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U took several years to develop, and that’s a Nintendo product. NASB 2 has taken less time and is far more ambitious. It’s set to include a campaign with “roguelike mechanics”, a boss rush mode, and minigames. That’s a lot to juggle on top of the usual competitive platform-fighting content seen in the first game, which I will once again mention wasn’t up to standard.

Development will have started during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re still feeling its impact on game development today, with myriad broken launches and PC ports that aren’t worth the price of admission. Again, from some of the biggest players in the industry. Just look at The Last of Us Part 1 and Redfall. Rushing games is always a bad idea, but especially so today. There has to be room for polishing and testing, both things that were clearly rushed with the first NASB. The sequel should be a chance to remedy that, and taking a chance on failed games to build something better should always be encouraged, but it looks like history is only going to repeat itself here.

Even moving away from the concerns about its quality, taking more time would ensure that NASB 2 has a better release window. It’s launching in the busiest months of 2023. In September, we’ll get our hands on Starfield and Mortal Kombat 1, followed by Spider-Man 2, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage in October. Not only does it have a whole library of heavy hitters to stand out from, but a new entry into one of the biggest fighting franchises. It’s a strange date to launch a sequel to a platform fighter few liked, and feels more like burying it in the noise.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that I’m wrong, and NASB 2 will be the best platform fighter in years and that’s why the team is confident it will stand out. But you’d have to ignore every single red flag to go into it with that belief. Right now, I’m not optimistic, and all signs are pointing to another rushed game.

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