Nickelodeon’s new Smash Bros. game has spawned a million memes


The premise of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl is silly.

It’s a Super Smash Bros.-style fighting game, but it swaps all the Nintendo characters out for an ensemble of goofy Nickelodeon mascots. Finally, icons like SpongeBob SquarePants, Patrick Star, and Invader Zim will get the chance to duke it out in the fighting arena.

Some of them, like the nunchuck-wielding ninja Michelangelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, make perfect sense for a fighting game. But a good portion of the characters aren’t exactly known for being “fighting material.” Take Patrick, for example, or Nigel Thornberry. Patrick is a literal pea-brained starfish with a squishy exterior, and Thornberry is the goofy TV naturalist father of The Wild Thornberrys. Nigel has no fighting powers; he’s more known for his dad jokes than for being threatening.

The fact that many of the characters have no right to be in a fighting game is what makes for the perfect meme fodder. Since GameMill announced the game on Tuesday, images and jokes about Nickelodeon characters becoming fighters have been all over Twitter.

Many of the jokes just make fun of the characters and speculate on what’s to come. For example, here’s one of Donnie, also from The Wild Thornberrys, who is known for screaming straight gibberish.

Then there’s this one, which borrows a from a popular Rugrats meme format that shows Stu Pickles making food.

This one depicts a possible ultimate for Patrick, in which he uses his home (a giant rock) to crush Invader Zim.

The jokes make perfect sense, since many of these characters have been the subject of popular memes time and time again. But it goes deeper than that. Many of the images make references that are specific to the fighting game community, which encompasses competitive fighting game scenes around the world that organize local and national tournaments. It’s common for devoted fighting game players to create detailed guides on how to use specific characters, or to ban a character from tournament play if they’re too powerful to allow for fair competition.

Over time, the fighting game community has developed its own set of jokes and references. So, combine years of that community’s unique culture with recognizable, zany characters, and what we get is the perfect storm of memes. Like this one, which uses Gibby from iCarly to make a joke about hit boxes and collision detection for different fighting game moves.

Or this one, which refers to “locals,” a term for locally organized fighting game events.

This one references the ultimate boss of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, Master Hand, and the god-like sailor hand from SpongeBob SquarePants.

This post refers to Super Smash Brothers: Melee players who only use the GameCube controller, since it’s still considered the best for competitive play.

This post uses fighting game notation to describe Patrick’s attacks.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl will almost certainly have some good outfits.

Fred Figglehorn might end up being overpowered, especially if John Cena comes along with him.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl will be released in fall 2021 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.