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Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL Review

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Ever since Nintendo rounded up their most prestigious characters and let them fight it out in Super Smash Bros., gamers in particular have had fantasies of seeing dream matches or fights between different game characters. This has become more apparent with Freddy Krueger and Kratos cameos in Mortal Kombat earlier this year, down to the recent rumors of a Smash Bros. style game featuring Sony characters. Developer Papaya Studios thought of an idea that I’m sure no one really thought could ever come to fruition. How about bringing various Cartoon Network characters and putting them in a Smash Bros. like scenario? The result is Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL. And though it tries its darnest to be Smash. Bros, it’s not as good.

Story is never the selling point of any fighting game. Story expectations should be low for any and every fighting game. What I do tend to admire is the attempt, and Cartoon Network PTE XL does make an attempt at explaining why these characters and worlds are clashing. The overall execution isn’t well done but I did like what they were trying to do by having a character like Ben Tennyson enter the world of Chowder and seeing different characters react to each other. One of my criticisms about the story mode is that most of the dialogue in the game isn’t voice acted. Though the characters may drop one liners here and there, it would of been great to have the voice actors read some of the dialogue.

When it comes to these types of games, I usually have a complaint regarding a character that was left from the game. I don’t really have that complaint here. The list of playable characters spans from great 90’s characters that I once loved like Dexter and The Powerpuff Girls, down to some present characters that I have never seen in my life like Captain K’nuckles from some show called ‘The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. This game has Captain F’ing Planet, that alone makes up for the 5 seconds of disappointment I had when I saw no Ed, Edd, or Eddy in the game.

Cartoon Network PTE XL’s gameplay is where the game really aspires to be like Super Smash Bros. The control inputs for the moves are identical to the latest Smash Bros. game. You have your one button melee combos and your character specific special moves based on the position of the thumbstick. Health works in the same way as Smash Bros., if you take damage over 100% you are likely of being knocked out of the level. And like in Smash Bros., you have assist that you can snatch before your opponent that can help you inflict critical damage. CN:PTE XL does have the right mindset of using the Smash Bros. formula of gameplay, but CN:PTE XL doesn’t offer that robust and rich type of competitive play that Smash Bros. does. Not to mention some of the controls felt a bit sluggish when I played, I felt like some of my moves weren’t coming out when I wanted them too. This became quite apparent when I was falling off the stage and I would use my UP special but would fall off anyways. The gameplay works fine enough to have a few matches with friends but just isn’t as engaging as Smash Bros.

The two categories where Cartoon Network PTE XL might have had Smash Bros beat are online and graphics. Unfortunately, CN: PTE XL doesn’t have any type of online play which is a huge bummer considering I played this on the Xbox 360 and I don’t have friends that would waste gas to come over and play this. So Smash Bros. wins that one. In terms of graphics, CN: PTE XL wont be winning any VGA trophies for best graphics but it is a well enough looking game. Not better looking than Smash Bros. though, and that’s in SD.

Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL takes so much of the Smash Bros. formula that it is impossible not to compare them, and when you do CN: PTE XL ends up looking like a red-headed stepchild. I do think there is fun to be had with this game if all of the rules apply. First you have to have a deep affection for most of the characters in this game, and when I say deep, I mean DEEP! Secondly, you can’t be playing Skyrim or Call of Duty currently, those games are way better and deserve your time. And third, don’t own a Wii. If you already have Brawl then just replay that game.

This review was based on a retail copy of the game for the Xbox 360 provided by Crave Entertainment.

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