Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Mar 22, 2011
Fighting game fans who plan to pick up a Nintendo 3DS in the coming weeks and months don’t have too many options to satisfy their pugilistic lust. This is made doubly painfully by the fact that Nintendo has yet to officially announce the 3D-powered version of Smash Bros. that is undoubtedly in the works. Enter Crave Games, and its loving ode/nod to Smash Bros., Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion, coming to the 3DS later this year.
There are 37 licensed Cartoon Network characters from 11 popular shows in the game, 18 of which are playable, and 19 of which are simply assisting characters that will jump in when called up to deal some tag-teamy damage. Battle Mode, the multiplayer portion, is obviously the game’s core, especially since game is the only 3DS title at the moment to support up to four-player WiFi multiplayer. It also includes download play, so if you have the game but three of your friends don’t, you can link up and still play multiplayer, albeit with limited content. For players who prefer solitary fighting, there is also an adventure mode that is a complete 6-7 hour, standalone experience.
To get our feet wet, we played a portion of a single-player level (there will be 32 total in the full game) that started in a port town and then extended onto a giant ship sailing in a storm. The weather effects and platforming elements were aided noticeably by the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. Rain whipped across the foreground while enemy ships fired cannon balls from the horizon. Crave has obviously put a lot of work into the game’s environments, and Cartoon Network fans are sure to have a blast exploring settings from their favorite shows and picking out details that only true fans would notice.
Jumping one of the 21 Battle Mode stages, the layout is exactly what you’d expect from a Smash Bros.-inspired fighting game: there are multiple platforms extending upwards into the sky with pits of doom on at least one side of the arena. Before each match, you can tweak the settings, so if you want to increase the frequency of item drops and limit everyone to just two lives, you can.
In addition to your standard attacks, each character has a signature move that can be triggered by pressing Y. These moves have been designed specifically to fit the characteristics and style of each character, so, for instance, Monkey’s (Dexter’s Laboratory) abilities will look and feel entirely different than the Powerpuff Girls’ Blossom.
For our three-person match, we went with Father from Codename: Kids Next Door and Jack Samurai Jack. As in Smash Bros., the fighting is fast and frantic, and while button mashing can work, Crave designed the controls to encourage players to be more strategic in their approach to the combat. While we could see the combo system at work, frantically mashing buttons ended up being just as effective in our match. We still had fun, though. Within the first few seconds, we had already been thrown to our death off the side of rocky cliff, unleashed several spinning fire attacks on our poor opponents, and rocketed some poor fool completely out of the arena. Dealing damage builds up your special attack meter, so we waited for the perfect opportunity to strike, and triggered Father’s massive, map-engulfing inferno attack, which is presented in cut-scene style ala Marvel vs. Capcom or Street Fighter.
It might not carry the same gaming clout as Smash Bros., but Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion appears to have drawn enough influence from Nintendo’s beloved fighting series to give SB lovers a solid alternative while they wait for a proper 3DS installment to be released. It’s also dripping with Cartoon Network love, so if you love you some Ben 10 or Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, keep this one on your radar.