This is the best Super Smash Bros. clone we have ever played. Let’s lead with that, because it’s absolutely true. Developer Ludosity has turned in a top party fighter with Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, and that’s an achievement that shouldn’t be sniffed at.

You hit hard and fast, with movement that’s snappy and responsive. Characters are beautifully rendered and animated, but in a way that doesn’t intrude on the fighting action. It’s enormous fun clocking all the gags: Patrick Star, for example, has his iconic “Is this the Krusty Krab?” “No, this is Patrick!” telephone slam as his side-heavy attack. This kind of fanservice is laced through the whole game, with each of the 20 stages laden with references – we loved Mr Horse space-jogging by in Ren and Stimpy’s 'Space Madness' arena. Unlike its inspiration, there are no items, but this isn’t a bad thing as it forces you to get better rather than rely on lucky drops.

Why, then, is the score at the bottom of this review not higher? Well, we’re speculating, but we think there was a budgetary issue here. Menus are simply static images, and there are only a few modes: Arcade, Offline and Online multiplayer, along with a 'Sports Ball' variant that reminded us of Rayman Legends’ 'Kung Foot'. There’s a gallery, wherein you can unlock single images with no way to zoom in on them – pointless. All the characters and stages are available from the start, so there’s nothing to strive for. Worst of all, the game features absolutely no voice acting – yep, none. Not even grunts or groans. It’s baffling.

Unfortunately, these issues make the product feel cheap, which does the quality of the actual fighting a tremendous disservice. Again, it’s the best Smash clone we’ve ever played – we just wish Nickelodeon had shown some confidence in it.