Game Review

Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Patrick Elliot

Smash Bros. Lite

Punching a Powerpuff Girl in the face is always a welcomed experience. So is hitting Dexter in the head with a giant candy cane, or drop-kicking Samurai Jack off of a cliff. In Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion all these things happen and more, as numerous Cartoon Network franchises come together to duke it out in an Super Smash Bros.-inspired fighter.

Actually, “inspired” is underselling it a bit, as everything in this game is ripped straight from the SSB text-book. Double jumps, chargeable smash attacks, butt-saving special moves triggered by pressing Up and B: it's all here. Players can block and roll, do grabs and pick up items (one of which is a star wand), and there is even a trophy-like item that calls in assists from lesser-known Cartoon Network characters. Yet while the game takes all these Smash Bros elements and covers them in a Cartoon Network veneer, the pieces just never really come together in the same way.

There is no Ganondorf or Ike here, no range of speed and power in the roster, just a bunch of fighters with different moves that all feel the same. The attack animations are very loose, and fighting has an intangible, airy feel to it. Movement lacks precision and speed, and there is no satisfying weight to you character, no drop to the jumps. This is likely due to the strange physics engine that runs the game, which causes the characters to float about the screen in a silly, uncontrollable manner, lowering the strategic qualities of the game.

Still, learning each character's special moves, abilities and smash attacks is always fun, and before long you'll find a character you can settle into comfortably enough. Learning which special attacks are best for softening-up your opponents and which are best for knockback is pretty much as deep as it goes however. Hitting opponents causes blue gems to be knocked out of them, which when collected earn players a unique “Punch Time Explosion” attack, operating like a Final Smash.

For Cartoon Network fanatics, there is loads of fan service poured into Punch Time Explosion. Characters from old favourites like Dexter's Lab and Powerpuff Girls are all playable fighters, and thanks to a SSBB-inspired trophy item, assisted attacks come in the form of cameos from characters left out of the fight like Johnny Bravo, Stickybeard and Ben 10's Kevin Levin. Less widely-known shows are given love as well, with the game featuring Flapjack and Captain K' Nuckles from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, and Chowder and his pet fart Kimchi from the cancelled show Chowder, among others. Eventually players will even be able to unlock Captain Planet.

The main problem is that most of these characters feel too much alike; sure, they all have unique move sets, but for the most part they all have the same feeling of speed, weight, power and knockback. Dynamism in fighters comes from a truly well-balanced roster, but here the special moves of each character are too alike, and in and of themselves are not diverse enough to add much depth to the gameplay.

The game features no traditional fighting-game story mode where you battle through a series of increasingly challenging matches before facing a final boss. Instead, you play through a side-scrolling platformer mode much like Super Smash Bros. Brawl's “Subspace Emissary.” Here, Dexter's “travel machine” (that's what they call it) goes into various Cartoon Network universes, where players will have traverse platforming segments before recruiting the protagonists of each show, usually done by beating them up. Together, they battle back the evil force causing all the chaos in the shows' universes.

The side-scrolling story mode is a little slow, as all the levels are quite easy and serve mainly to bring you to a boss battle. The worlds you traverse are inspired by various cartoons, but feel pretty uninspired, consisting of bland backgrounds, easy enemies and phoned in 3D effects. Aside from periodically layered foregrounds, there isn't much 3D to enjoy here, and you may turn find yourself turning off the 3D effect just to follow the action on the screen.

At the end of each level in Story Mode you battle a boss, who usually joins your roster once defeated. These boss battles prove fun, but mostly because they play just like exhibition matches, which are the funnest part of the game. You likely know the drill here, as the goal is to stay on the stage while attempting to knock your opponents off the screen.

If this were the only way to unlock new characters, that would be a pretty big bummer, but thankfully, you can just jump into Battle Mode and set up fights to earn new characters. Here you fight up to three CPU opponents at once, adjusting things like difficulty, time and lives to your liking, as well as the amount of items that will appear. Simply winning these battles unlocks new characters, so if you are turned off by Story Mode you can still flesh out your roster by winning exhibition matches.

Worst of all there is no online mode, a feature that would have undoubtedly added a lot of value to the package. Still, the game has a basic multiplayer mode with Download Play included too, so if you have a pal with a 3DS you can sync up wirelessly and do battle with just one copy of the game.

The graphics and sound in the game are well done, and character models are spot on. The environments aren't treated to the same amount of detail, but some exhibition stages shine, like Flapjack's ship level, which uses foreground ships and pieces of cardboard cut-out water to create a theatre-like effect. There are tons of voice samples and one-liners too, like Numbah One yelling “that was an adult sized fall!” each time he gets knocked off screen. Even the 1950's styled, all-American announcer from Powerpuff Girls narrates the entire affair, peppering the game with some much welcomed bouts of humour.

Conclusion

Without an online mode, the amount of enjoyment you'll be able to glean from this game will depend highly on the amount of people you know who own a 3DS. If you've got some nearby pals to play with, you can all join up to battle using only one cart; if not, you'll have to rely on CPU matches and the Story Mode to stay entertained. Sadly the game's side-scrolling Story Mode is disappointing, as the main attraction of the game is its fights, which can just be easily whipped up in Battle Mode. The game treats you to some impressive character models and voice-overs, and there are plenty of inside jokes with nods to characters' shows. But everything from the story to the moves to the items are ripped straight from Smash Bros., and the pieces just never come together into a similarly quality experience.

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Game Trailer

Join us as we take a look at the characters behind Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion

User Comments (40)

Ecto-1

#1

Ecto-1 said:

"Punching a Powerpuff Girl in the face is always a welcomed experience"

If I ever find this game in a bargain bin, THIS might might it worth while.

Wildvine53

#4

Wildvine53 said:

I personally love this game, but only because I love these cartoons. I thought they did a pretty good job making use of the various licences they acquired. When I played through the story mode I would noticed little details and characters from the shows that they added to the backgrounds ( Old Sea Hag, Dr. Barber, Null Guardians, etc.) The only thing I didn't like about the game was that you have to unlock the charcters in VS. mode even after you unlock them in story mode.

siavm

#5

siavm said:

I played a smash like game on wii, TMNT, and it was bad. And this game, even though I like some of the characters, looks just as bad if not worse. Luckily Nintendo is making Smash for 3ds, something I wanted on a handheld for a few years now.

Hardy83

#7

Hardy83 said:

Just wait for Smash Bros 3DS to come out in 2015. lol

I tried this game, it's not bad, but don't expect Smash Bros, it probably just flat out didn't have the budget of Smash Bros.

Xiao_Pai

#9

Xiao_Pai said:

@2: In this game it's called a Super Smash...lol.
Anyways the review pretty much nails it...makes a GREAT substitute until whenever Smash Bros. comes out for the 3DS. (and Wii U, lol)

Supremeist

#10

Supremeist said:

This will not be a purchase for me.
No online ruins it for me. I kind of expected this score though.
If I ever find this game for rental I'll give it a try.

Samholy

#12

Samholy said:

comparing a title to smash brothers is a risky thing, because is unbeatable in its genre.

i would compare it more with the lookalikes. one piece grand battle as an example. is this game comparable to it in term of gameplay ?

anyway, this is a bargain bin title, that will be cheap when the real smash will be out. so...ill probably end up never trying it anyway :-p

LEGEND_MARIOID

#13

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

The polygonal art style is horrid. They should have kept the nice, quirky cartoon art from the actual tv shows ffs.

Also, make more dynamic and explosive...ah well...

Lobster

#14

Lobster said:

We can unlock Captain Planet? Really? Oh man, the hilarity of that means I might have to grab this some day when it's like five bucks.

TKOWL

#15

TKOWL said:

Meh, not really a huge fan of CN anyways. This is just another character-lisenced game disguised as an interesting Smash Bros. clone.

carson

#17

carson said:

this prolly would have been my favorite game back in 1998.

but now it's just garbage

NintyMan

#19

NintyMan said:

Maybe if this game was cheap, I would give it a try, but the Wii version would interest me more. Then again, come 2014 when Smash Bros 3DS and Wii U would be out, I wouldn't play this anymore.

R-L-A-George

#20

R-L-A-George said:

Guys this game is a little harder than smash bros brawl. As a nice casual playing game and a party its a 9/10. Though 6/10 makes it one of the better games.

3Daniel

#21

3Daniel said:

Definately a way over generous score. The sloppy hit detection, poor sound design(other then the narrator who was the best thing about the game), despicable AI and overall bland taste the game leaves in your mouth long after playing should have earned it a 4 at best. Especially at 39.99, this game is a total cash in by the developers hoping to take advantage of children and uberCNfans. I gave it some thought and decided against throwing it out and used it as a trade in towards OoT. Shame because I need me some 4 player party fighting and I need it now.

Ickaser

#22

Ickaser said:

What just crossed my mind: I probanly got more play out of Super Monkey Ball 3D's Monkey Fight mode than I would have gotten from this.

TheBaconator

#23

TheBaconator said:

I got about 12 hours of play time out of this one so far. It was a good concept and a decent game, but there were way many bugs, the single player was below mediocre in my opinion, and the AI wasn't too bright and would often run straight into attacks or follow me off the stage.

MasterGraveheart

#24

MasterGraveheart said:

Samurai Jack beating up Foster's?
Buttercup vs. Ben 10?
Dexter vaporizing Grim and that other guy?

...at least they know how to make an inticing cover. =P

TwilightV

#25

TwilightV said:

I thought some of the areas, like Foster's Home and Samurai Jack's world, were beautifully detailed and very faithful to the shows they were based upon.

My biggest complaint was that there were only about 6 voice actors working on the game, so some of the voices (like Dexter, Flapjack and Blossom) were WAY off. Hopefully they try to remedy this with the console version.

Edit: @SamHoly: No, Grand Battle is more comparable to the Power Stone series than it is the Smash Bros. series. Comparing this game to Smash Bros. is sensible because despite their differences they are played in the same manner.

JimmyWhale

#26

JimmyWhale said:

Punch Time Explosion is one of the dumbest titles I've heard, but the game seems semi-interesting. The fact that it has Captain Planet makes me want to play it even more...

Retro_on_theGo

#27

Retro_on_theGo said:

I'll probably never pick this up. It's nice they tried to appeal to everyone with old and new cartoon characters, but it just didn't work out for me.

komicturtle

#28

komicturtle said:

I'm disappointed that DeeDee, Courage and the Ed gang aren't in it. Courage and Ed were the most popular shows- Johnny Bravo's womanizing self as well. I would have laughed hard if Sheep was in it (Sheep in The Big city- unpopular, overlooked, but I liked it).

GamerX

#30

GamerX said:

oh never get ghost recon for 3ds it SUCKS BADLY no joke and i love super smash bros melee for gamecube(yea i cant believe i still have a gamecube)

Blah-Blek44

#31

Blah-Blek44 said:

To all the people saying you are disappointed that certain charecters are'nt in the game need to realize that the company has stated that the ps3 xbox 360 and wii versions will have more charecters. Even without certain charecters i feel this is an awsome game i mean can people really blame them for admiring smash bros and using the smash bros fighting system i mean its a system that has had very good succes. Now i do think voice acting could have been better but even still the voices are good even if they dont sound exactly like them. Also people dont not buy this just because ssb is coming out cause it will be at least another 2 to 3 years before it comes out. All in all this is a good game and deserves at least renting if not a buy.

Ceviche_Stiles

#32

Ceviche_Stiles said:

I think this game would be plenty enjoyable on-the-go or with a friend. Definitely will buy after price drop! not worth the full price however. Nice review!

DoctorAlgebra

#34

DoctorAlgebra said:

This is the game I've been using to wait for BIT.TRIP and Star Fox. I got it for about $20, which is what it's worth. It's a fun game to pick up and play for a short while, but none of the stages are particularly interesting and I'm not a huge fan of the roster.

Also, the game is narrated by Space Ghost, not the Powerpuff Girl's narrator.

rachelthehedgehog

#36

rachelthehedgehog said:

No online mode = No buy.
I think the game is neat with the Cartoon Network characters, but I'm not too interested.
@sak904, please post the site's address.

Mattiator

#37

Mattiator said:

"Play in either Battle mode or Story mode, compete with 3 other players in multi-player Wi-Fi mode."
...is how the site puts it. Not sure if by 'Wi-Fi' they mean local wireless or online.
But still.... CAAAAAPTAAAAAAIN PLAAAAAANET!

Phle

#39

Phle said:

No Johnny Bravo??! I hate Chowder and Flapjack! I have been thinking of getting this game but the choice of characters really annoy me...

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