Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Andrew
I'm not a huge fan of fighting games and although they've shifted millions of unit's with titles such as Super Street Fighter and Super Smash Brothers the excitement aimed at the genre simply passed me by. Punch Time Explosion borrows heavily from the fore mentioned Nintendo classic and the idea of having an action title populated with a fully featured cast of Cartoon Network characters seems to be a solid one. Sadly, great ideas do not always make for great games but has this one bucked the trend?
There's a good chance you have purchased this game due to the similarities to Super Smash Brothers and if you have played the Nintendo auctioneer then you are going to be right at home here. The gameplay is simple: control one of four Cartoon Network characters over a series of animated worlds battling it out with a varied (although dumb) collection of enemies. Actually disposing of these henchmen is a little more challenging than it first seems and you'll be required to continually attack in order to reduce their strength and so knock them off the screen. Frustratingly, checkpoints are not exactly plentiful either so failing to get to the end of any section will have you replaying the whole thing from the very beginning. Outside of the Story Mode there's also a Battle Mode although you'll be limited to playing with the characters you've unlocked during the Single Player Story which although expected, is yet another frustration of the whole package.
While this could have been an immersive action title challenging gamers to use planning and tactics in order to outwit their opponents, the simple truth is, it's just another button basher. To make matters worse almost all of the characters available fight in exactly the same manor so it really doesn't matter which ones you select in order to battle your way though the games levels. There's also some rather questionable collision detection and jumping from one platform to another can be a challenge in itself.
Both the character models and environments are very good here just as long as you stick to the 2D mode. The highlight for us is when you activate the 'Punch Time Explosion' with any of the characters. This activates a kind of mini-cartoon with the charter in question gathering everything they require to pull off this special move often with very humorous results.
While there's some great voice over work from 'Space Ghosts' George Lowe the rest of the characters have very little to say for themselves with the majority of the cast limited to only one or two words. To make matters worse a lot of them don't even sound like their TV counterparts. Very disappointing considering they went to all the trouble of making the visuals representative of the original characters but failed to go the extra mile with the audio.
You wont be using the touch-screen a awful lot here and we only had to tap the screen to unleash the 'Punch Time Explosion' which is very effective for dealing with the more troublesome enemy although you'll need to fill your meter first by collecting gems which are released from enemies during combat.
This is certainly not the best example we've seen as far as 3D visuals are concerned and although it does add some depth to the various planes it doesn't work nearly as well as some other titles we've seen recently such as the wonderful Mutant Mudds. We also had huge problems with getting to battle it out with anyone on-line and something that should have been one of the games main focus is all but redundant. It's not that this feature is broke; we just couldn't find anyone to play with during the time we spent with the game.
While Punch Time Explosion is a fairly decent Super Smash Brothers clone, it never really comes anywhere close to threatening the classic Nintendo action title. The controls are the biggest problem here as are the actual battles which are all incredibly similar. There's still a generous amount of characters to play with but given that they all move and fight in a very similar manor you do have to question why they where all included in the first place. It still looks good and fans of the Cartoon Network get a lot of characters for their money it just could have been so much better.
Pro: Loads of Colorful Characters.
Con: Poor Controls, Very Similar Combat for Each Character.
Final score: 6.6