Today I found out that combining a bunch of things you like into one big thing doesn’t always make that big thing a thing you like.
Let’s face it, there have been a number of Super Smash Brothers imitations over the years, all with various ways they try to attract gamers into buying in. Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL is one of those games. The main gimmick here of course is that all of your Cartoon Network favorites are all in one game! Well sort of. The game does a really great job in that it features a lot of older characters that were popular when I was growing up: Dexter and Powerpuff Girls and Johnny Bravo make appearances for example. It also includes many newer character, some of which I’m familiar with, such as Ben 10, many I’m not, like Chowder and Grimm. Younger fans will definitely get more out of this as Dexter still airs on Cartoon Network so they are still familiar with that set of characters, where as I knew little of many of the others.
But basically, the game takes place when all the cartoon universes are mashed together. Banning together, all the different heroes must make their way though various stages (based on different cartoons) to beat a collection of evil guys from the various universes and uncover what is really going on. All of this is also hosted by Space Ghost, though the Space Ghost character makes no appearance in the game.
Sadly though the game just falls short of what actually could have been fun. Among the game’s many faults there is the very limited voice acting from the characters (using mostly text) that is often repeated any time the character is the one “talking” via text on screen. Additionally, while the characters all look great in the animated cut scenes they look completely out of sorts on the same screen together. Part of this is because the graphics suck in Punch Time Explosion XL, but also because the characters are all made to look the same rather than look like they do in the cartoons. This results in Powerpuff Girls that look like small monsters in particular. The game’s last biggest fault is undoubtedly the fact that Samurai Jack is one of the last characters to be introduced and added to the list of playable characters.
Aesthetics aside, the game is also a very poor platformer. You want to forgive this, I mean it is really a brawler with a story added right? Well the problem is the brawler parts suck too. Combat is cumbersome, and has none of the flair or even that sort of grace that Super Smash Brothers does. Combined with the poor visuals and sound effects, it is also very easy to just simply get confused as to what is going on. What’s more, the various characters are very poorly balanced.
Really, Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL only has two redeeming qualities. One is that Samurai Jack rocks, as does his character in the game. The other is a cameo by a favorite 90’s cartoon at the very end that seriously made the whole game just a little bit better with his presence. Not going to spoil it for you because it really does redeem the game a bit. Far as I could tell, there wasn’t much of a notable difference between the Xbox 360 version and the 3DS version though I decided to continue on on the Xbox version.
Tomorrow I put on the last suit I’ll ever wear in MIB: Alien Crisis.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: ~ 4 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 370/1000
Price Bought at: $10
Current Price: $37.99 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $10 is the most you should pay
Why you should buy it: Full of nostalgia for you, CN favorites for the kids
Why you shouldn’t buy it: Just feels like a budget title from start to finish.