The simplest of game mechanics can sometimes be the most fun. Beat em’ ups like Double Dragon, Final Fight, and The Simpsons are challenging and bring a lot of charm to their franchise. Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is as simple as it gets to an arcade beat ‘em up with not much else to offer. Fans of the dynamic duo may enjoy this classic arcade-style game, but also may want more than it has to offer.
If you have seen Mallrats, written, and directed by Silent Bob himself Kevin Smith, you will appreciate the game as a pseudo-sequel. It takes place right after the movie ends. Security guards give chase as Jay and Silent Bob escape after the sabotaged dating T.V. show before the movie ends. Just as weird and random as the movie was, the game offers the same kind of casual, unusual comedy Kevin Smith delivers.
Many references are thrown at players throughout each level but can sometimes fall short of fun since, with the retro aesthetic being a central theme, no dialogue is presented, and very little text is shown. Players will see cameos of some familiar-ish faces as enemies such as the familiar Easter bunny, a Mooby’s mascot, and even a man with a chocolate-covered pretzel head. You’ll even run into a change-filled sock used as a weapon as seen in Mallrats.
As mentioned before, the gameplay is as simple as can be for an NES-style brawler. There’s a punch button, kick button, and jump button which allows for an aerial move. That’s about it. You can play as both Jay and Silent Bob and switch between them if they both have enough health, but they really don’t offer much variety as main characters aside from a special move they perform when you spam either the punch or kick button depending on which character you are currently using. Players can also use a small variety of weapons found or dropped by enemies such as skateboards, baseball bats, and dirty socks. The main staple to any good old classic brawler is the food items strewn about a level to provide health, and of course, this game has plenty of those to help last longer throughout each level. Find chicken, ice cream, and burgers and switch between characters to decide which you need health for more.
Don’t expect the difficulty to be Battletoads levels of hard, but Mall Brawl does offer some challenging levels. Enemies can come bursting through any direction on each section of a level and can usually come at you, two or three at a time. Players will need to juggle enemies and angle themselves properly to avoid attacks while gaining the upper hand. There are a few levels to break up the usual beat ’em’ up levels such as a shopping cart ride level where players will dodge obstacles such as barrels, delivery carts, and grandmas…yes you read right, don’t hit the grandmas. There really isn’t too much variety with level design or combat. Players will find everything the game has to offer within the first two hours or so of gameplay.
Mall Brawl is as old school as it can get with its NES 8-bit art style. The game even brings back the old chiptune-style music. Unfortunately, that comes with a drawback to the kind of style Kevin Smith movies have. Dialogue. What makes many of his movies and characters entertaining is their dialogue and humor. Mall Brawl misses that by a long shot since voice acting would not fit into the retro style gameplay, story, or art. Mall Brawl relies heavily on references using enemies and weapons as well as some level design to convey the Mallrats experience. It just does not work well unless you want to merely play as Jay and Silent Bob with no Snooches or Nooches (I hope readers catch that reference).
Players can at least make use of the border art that surrounds the game screen or even raise up the resolution and graphics in the options menu. It’s not a drastic change but it’s noticeable. It’s disappointing to see such cool animated art-style cartoons on the border layout of the game and make no real use of it other than for box art or marketing material.
Players will not see any of that in the real game, even as an option. There really is not much to achieve in the game either. Players are going from point A of a level to point B and then move on. There is nothing to unlock or collect. This is another missed opportunity since it would be nice to have cheat codes, skins, weapons, or moves to unlock to further extend the replay value.
As basic as Mall Brawl is, it delivers what it promises. Old-school retro gaming with your favorite potheads. There is not much variety, but it can offer some entertainment to pass the time until the next full Jay and Silent Bob adventure. Thankfully, save points for each level helps players jump right back in where they left off. With so little in terms of replay value or options, I would pass on this game unless it is below ten bucks or free. Another option is to use your hard-earned money towards backing the Jay and Silent Bob: Chronic Blunt Punch Kickstarter to receive a free copy of Mall Brawl. Snoochie Boochie
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl Arcade Edition for PlayStation 4 provided by Interabang Entertainment.