|Dev: Papaya Studios|
|Pub: Crave Entertainment|
|Release: June 6, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor|
The largest failure of the game is its lack of online multiplayer support, which in this age should be the first order of business. The best matches are always when four players can unleash carnage on a tiny map, with the prospect of being sent flying across the screen adding to the intensity. But unless you have four friends who also have a 3DS and are Cartoon Network junkies who've also purchased the game, you're pretty much stuck playing against the A.I. If you're lucky to have a 3DS-toting friend, you can use the Download Play feature, but you're severely limited in your options, making the lack of any online play even more disappointing.
The 3D display is a double-edged sword for Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion. Despite the action being confined to 2D platforms, the depth of the backgrounds is well-detailed. Even distant buildings give the condensed play area a more expansive landscape.
The global destruction occurring as you progress gives a great sense of the urgency of your mission. The downside is that during frantic battles against bosses, you must keep a close eye on your character at all times, much like a ball-in-a-shell game; take your eye off the action for a second and you'll lose. With the 3D effect on, trying to keep your eyes adjusted to the screen is as difficult as battling some of the bosses, and you'll inevitably switch it off after the umpteenth failure because you lost the sweet spot. The character animations and cartoon vistas are both translated well and look gorgeous on the 3DS. The only small complaint I have is that the game is basically a single canvas for several cartoons, all with their own unique style on television, making the game feel too conjoined.
The Story Mode narrator does a good job mixing the anxiety and humor of the adventure, as well as providing hints throughout. The combat and item effects are all crisp and engaging, which adds an extra punch when successfully landing a knockout. The music, however, is poor, with an unoriginal blend of synthesizers crucifying the ambience of the action. Thankfully, it can be turned off, and the game is much better without it. The character voices, which although authentic, are limited to only a couple sound bites, most of which want to make you rip your ears off after hearing the same line a million times.
Plainly, Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion is not nearly on the same level as the Super Smash Bros. series, despite having a grossly similar gameplay style. More custom options for matches, better multiplayer features, and a more diverse soundtrack may have put it close. Also, the lack of collectables and achievements makes for poor replayability after you've unlocked all the maps and characters. But it's still the closest thing to SSB on a portable, so if you just can't wait for Nintendo's first-party entry, or are a diehard Cartoon Network fan, this game is right up your alley.
CCC Contributing Writer