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Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion - 3DS Review

Game Info
Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion

3DS | Crave Games / Papaya Studio | 1-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now | StreetPass Support
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14th November 2011; By Patrick

The Super Smash Bros. series is famous for taking famous characters from Nintendo games and seeing what would happen if they fought. The series also involves an interesting fight mechanic in which the goal is not to defeat the other player, but to knock them off the screen by increasing their chances of flying off. Crave Games has decided to pay homage to this fighting style with their game using the Cartoon Network series of licenses, entitled
Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion. Does this game knock it out of the arena screen park, or does it fall into the same pit as most licensed titles? A mixture of both, actually.

    The game is best compared to the Wii entry in the Smash Bros. series, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, based on the included single-player story mode. The lines between the Cartoon Network shows have blurred, and characters are ending up in other shows -- both the heroes and the villains. Story Mode is a 2D platformer/brawler where you control up to two of the fighters (or fighter pairs, as the case may be) and, well, run to the left and beat up enemies along the way, occasionally stopping to battle bosses. The mode is narrated by someone who was watching TV when the cartoons mixed, and not only makes funny comments about the proceedings, he addresses some of the characters and makes references to their shows for fans to enjoy. In addition to the Story Mode, there is also a Battle Mode where you can fight freely against the CPU or other players, provided they are local and also have the game.

Characters are fairly well-designed and balanced, and they all control tight for the most part. There are various attacks based on what button you press, where the Circle Pad is at that point in time, and if you're in the air or not. Attacks are representative of the various characters chosen from the different shows and are usually enjoyable to see performed. 
Each character has their own Punch Time Explosion (see: Final Smash) they can pull off if they collect enough energy orbs (gained by hitting your opponents). These attacks are preceded by slightly lengthy cutscenes of the character doing something like taking out a weapon, or something else unique to them.

    Speaking of characters, it's about time I mentioned them. There is a healthy roster of 18 characters (or character pairs) to fight as from both shows new and old. Shows like Dexter's Lab and The Powerpuff Girls will be familiar to people who were kinds in the 90's, while newer ones such as Chowder, Flapjack, and Ben 10 aim to capture the younger audience. As I mentioned earlier, characters are well-balanced, and it is apparent that the developers were fans of these licenses and wanted to treat them with respect. Some of the original voices are notably missing, although the newer voices won't annoy most.

The stages are also based on the cartoon sources and allow for the developers to show off their ability to design while keeping within the universe. I admittedly did not personally recognize any of the stages, not being overly familiar with the source material, but I have it on good word from friends that they are very well-constructed. What I can say, though, is that as far as fighting stages go, these are very well-built, offering plenty of edges to fall off of, multiple levels to attack from, and were seemingly built in conjunction with the characters to offer the best possible series of strategies.

    As I alluded to before, the controls are reasonably tight. You will be using the full system in terms of buttons, and it still manages to feel completely comfortable. The only "problem" will exist only for those who go into it expecting a Smash-Bros clone control scheme. While many of the controls are the same, the one crucial difference is that the "X" button is for jumping in place of "Up".

    And finally, as for presentation, it is pretty well done. Again, the character design is top-notch, as is the level design. The 3D effect does wonders for extending the background of the playing area, and is pleasing to the eye. The only real complaint is that the soundtrack is slightly boring and repetitive, but the options menu allows you to switch it off completely.

    Overall, this game will appeal to two separate groups: gamers looking for a Smash Bros. experience on their 3DS, and fans of Cartoon Network characters. For the first group, I'd recommend it with no hesitation, as it is truly fun. As for the second, I'd honestly recommend holding off; Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL is coming out very soon in NA and will feature all this content and more.

23/30 - Very Good

Gameplay 9/10 - Fun brawling for a portable, characters are balanced, stages are fun and varied, stages and characters in harmony
Presentation 8/10 - 3D effects are done well, character design top notch, stages fantastic, music mediocre but optional
Enjoyment 4/5 - Stays close to the source material, great to have on portable, seeing various characters fight and use their specials is enjoyable
Extra Content 2/5 - Many stages and characters, no online fighting, more content featured in the console version

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System

Review by Patrick

Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion
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