A whole generation of children grew up with Cartoon Network. Shows like Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory are close to their hearts. It’s no surprise that Cartoon Network would emulate Nintendo and release cross-over titles for their biggest IPs.
For the 3DS, Crave Entertainment and Papaya Games have developed Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion, a Smash Bros.-esque fighting game for the new handheld. With a platforming focus for single-player and arena-based fighting for multiplayer, Punch Time Explosion will be the closest thing to Super Smash Bros on the 3DS to start.
Like Super Smash Bros., each character in Punch Time Explosion has unique abilities and attacks. With 18 to choose from, there’s a lot of distinction between the fighters. For example, Death from Billy and Mandy is a slower and bigger character with powerful swipes. Each of the Powerpuff Girls are also dangerous, using distinct power-ups from the show. Others like Flapjack (The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack), Monkey (Dexter’s Laboratory), Dexter, Samurai Jack, Mojo Jojo (Powerpuff Girls), Ben 10, and lots more round out the action. Ben 10 will transform into various aliens, and Monkey has some projectile banana attacks.
Each one also has a super attack, like in Smash Bros. However, these are earned through fighting. In the single-player mode, players switch between four characters as they journey through the levels, which are also based upon actual Cartoon Network stages. Health is represented by percentages, and the higher the percentage, the easier it is to be thrown off the stage. Additionally, enemies and 19 assist summons are based upon Cartoon Network IPs. If nothing else, Punch Time Explosion is a love letter to Cartoon Network.
Multiplayer mode offers much more traditional arena fighting. Up to four players can duke it out, collecting items and unleashing attacks on each other. Fantastically, the game supports full four-player wi-fi download play, meaning if one player has the game, up to four can join in.
Unfortunately, unlike Smash Bros., Punch Time Explosion zooms in a little too close on the player characters. Instead of being able to see where everyone is at any given moment, only a small area is visible, so you could be killed by players off-screen. When the 3D effect is enabled, the screen gets a little too chaotic. While visually pretty, the game looks much better in 2D mode, but that’s my opinion.
All in all, Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion feels like a fairly capable fighting game for the 3DS. As far as licensed titles go, it could be worse, but I’m looking forward to something much better. Hopefully this game is a knockout.