Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion is a mascot fighting game developed by Papaya Studio and published by Deep Silver. It is a side on beat’em-up that uses a roster of characters from various Cartoon Network cartoons. It’s very much trying to use Cartoon Network characters on a Super Smash Bros game and it uses a lot of ideas from it.
While the game features 18 characters in total; to begin with you can only play as 8 in the multiplayer or in single player you start with Ben Tennyson and earn new characters along the way. Unfortunately earning characters in single player doesn’t carry over to the multiplayer; the only way to unlock characters in multiplayer is to play it. You will unlock characters after a certain amount of wins in the multiplayer.
The game uses standard brawler gameplay; different moves depending on direction and button pressed. It uses a system for damage that goes up to 300%; the higher your percentage the further you are hit and the more likely you are to die. Hitting 300% will cause your character to instantly die, making it an option alongside ring outs. Hitting opponents will cause them to drop orbs which you can collect to unleash your Punch Time Explosion. Most Punch Time Explosions are instant kills but some aren’t, some fill the entire screen and some won’t; they are all super powerful but some are less likely to get kills but not by much.
There are also multiple items to use which vary in use; there are close range weapons, ranged weapons and thrown weapons. The thrown weapons are effective occasionally but the throwing mechanics aren’t great, ranged weapons are the most useful and very handy for knocking people of the edges but close combat weapons lack the range and damage of your standard attacks and end up being a burden. Assist characters can be used for a multitude of effects and while some are better than others they do act in your favour.
The story starts with a narrator, while taking a holiday from narrating; he is narrating about his holiday. When he starts watching his favourite cartoons (from Cartoon Network) he finds out that there is something wrong and there are destructive forces destroying the worlds in these cartoons. You then have to battle through the various worlds in order to defeat the bad guys who are causing the trouble.
Singleplayer has a good pace to it, despite a few bumps; with a few minigames and boss battles along the way. Generally each level will be a short sprint from one end of the screen to the other with a few fights with minor enemies along the way. Unfortunately the hit detection isn’t particularly good and some characters are too short to be hit by attacks from some enemies. Also the difficulty level is set in stone; towards the end some enemies are ridiculously powerful in the circumstances they are under. There are a few minigames that appear throughout the levels but none really take advantage of the 3DS features as much as it should; excluding the slingshot minigame which is awkward at best.
Multiplayer fares much better as it’s the staple of this genre. Playing with friends is ideal and is probably the only way as there isn’t any online mode. Multiplayer lets you chose win conditions as well so you can chose how many lives or how long the game lasts. The camera always follows you, just as it does in the singleplayer but now it stops you from seeing exactly where the enemies are; making it hard to make decisions on how to fight.
The game uses all the source materials and keeps to the themes of each area for the levels; some of which are really good and others are just ok. There are a few moments where the 3D doesn’t work very well and the first person sections are the main offenders for it. There is most of the famous characters with moves which make sense or at least aren’t too far of a stretch that it seems ridiculous. Each character’s Punch Time Explosion looks good and is definitely worth seeing but when you get them quite frequently and can’t skip the reasonably long animation, they can get old.
Audio relies on some really good narrating for the cutscenes, and some nice sounds from various cartoons. There are some really repetitive voices as characters reuse phrases over the top of the text dialogue.
If you are a fan of the cartoons then you’ll get the most out of seeing the cross over between all the series; otherwise it’s just a there for your progression. The story does lend itself more to some series than others but it keeps the links between the levels loose. Some of the dialogue does seem a little off for some of the characters but that may just be because it does cross over well in text form.
Presentation and Audio
The cutscenes are very good and have some great voice work but there are some sound bites that characters use that are both annoying and out of place during the dialogue. The Punch Time Explosions look pretty cool but can get a little tiresome because of the frequency they can be used. The camera tracking you rather than zooming out for other characters is both annoying and awkward for playing the game.
It uses a lot of ideas from other brawlers, lends it to Cartoon Network characters and it does a reasonable job of it. Multiplayer is and will always be good fun, unfortunately the CPU’s aren’t that fun to play against and there isn’t an online option. Singleplayer doesn’t last long and has no replay value. There are some ropey gameplay elements and some of the minigames are just horrible.
While it does make numerous mistakes with certain elements of the game, it is fun to play with friends much more so than with the CPU. The lack of online play is the biggest problem with the game as it is the only brawler currently available on 3DS.
I love brawler games and even though it isn’t the best it still takes a lot of good from the genre and does make some good changes too. I’m not a fan of the Punch Time Explosions myself but can see the appeal. The 300% then death was by far the favourite change, it normally acts as an irritant in other games that use this system as the number keeps getting higher and can be abused. It was also nice to see some familiar faces from my childhood in a videogame.
Disclaimer: All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game
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