Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL Review
Back in June, the 3DS was treated to a very Super Smash Bros.-like brawler which starred Cartoon Network's finest. Though it wasn't received as well as we had hoped, it still functioned as a very me-too brawler that 3DS users could take on the go. Papaya Games brought the game to consoles with some extras, but does it warrant a purchase?
Chances are if you're familiar with the Super Smash Bros. formula, you'll feel very at home here. Characters have percentages that accumulate instead of a standard health bar, knocking an opponent out of the arena scores points, and characters come with signature attacks that are pulled straight from their respective TV shows. In fact, there isn't much that this game does differently.
The Story Mode has seen some changes from the 3DS versions, with some boss fights being slightly altered. It's still very much a platformer, albeit a very floaty one. You'll traverse various iconic locations, from Chowder's food-filled world of running Broccolli men, to Flapjack's world of sinking ships and candy pirates and more. It all goes back to the source material, which is great for fans of all these shows. Personally, I was less excited about these worlds and more excited about the older shows, such as Johnny Bravo, Powerpuff Girls, and Captain Planet! The eight new characters found in the XL version are Aku, Kevin Levin, Scotsman, Him, Toiletnator, Young Ben Tennyson, Hoss Delgado, and the king of the monkey himself, Johnny Bravo.
Though the bulk of unlocking characters does come through the Story Mode, it's the Battle Mode that shines through, and is very much like the SSB formula that fans of that genre are looking for. Nothing feels better than picking a stage, filling it with three other characters and duking it out for ultimate cartoon supremacy. Every character has a standard attack that varies depending on the direction pressed along with it, as well as a charged attack, assuming you hold the button down. These attacks, frankly, are almost useless; they barely do any sort of damage. The special attacks, unique to each character, are the ones that you'll get the biggest kick out of.
Ben Tennyson (or Ben 10 as he's known around the cool kids) transforms into various forms, like Humongosaur to charge ahead and bash any enemies in front of him, or throw fireballs as Swampfire. Flapjack throws candy canes, Buttercup uses a flurry of punches, etc. If you're a fan of any of these shows (and you should be if you're thinking of picking up this game), each character acts just as you remember them from TV.
If you thought the characters' specials sounded cool, it's the Punch Time Explosions that really steal the show. Each character powers up a bar during a fight that allows them to trigger a devastating, screen-clearing move. It's a blast seeing every character power up and do some serious damage. Then there are the Synergy Attacks, moves that team up two unlike characters, and let them cause some havoc on screen. For instance, the Scotsman from Samurai Jack calls upon Numbah 2 from Kids Next Door, who flies in with his plane. The Scotsman then jumps on that plane, which flies in the foreground, unleashing a gatling gun on everyone in the arena. It's all great fun, and a spectacle to boot.
heavily borrows copies from the Super Smash series (and that's not a bad thing), it never excels above it. Character movement isn't as fluid, and most of the time you'll be pulling off a move that isn't exactly what you wanted. You'll also find yourself falling off screen more than enough times thanks to the characters being overly floaty. Needless to say, it's not a replacement for Nintendo's mascot brawler. Also, no online multiplayer? A bit of a missed opportunity there.
Another extremely disappointing aspect was the lack of voice acting. Instead, characters either grunt or yell out their one liners during their speaking parts, but the rest of the dialogue has to be read. It makes for quite an awkward experience, especially when you have very loudmouthed characters that all of a sudden are completely silent.
Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL isn't a bad game. Though it lacks in some aspects, such as online multiplayer and some much needed voice acting, it's still a nice supplement to the Smash Bros. formula that Nintendo originally concocted. If you always dreamed of settling the score between Mojo Jojo and say... Captain Planet, now is your chance.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]