Review: Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL (PS3)

It’s one thing to create a game inspired by another, it’s another thing to just clone it and call it a different game. It’s also yet another thing to call clones good.

Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL is a multiplayer fighting gamewhere players dive head first into multiplayer and single-player fight modes with their favourite characters from Cartoon Network. Battle arenas and story mode levels are based from environments from various Cartoon Network shows, ranging from Dexter’s Lab to The Powerpuff Girls and new shows like Ben 10 and Chowder.

Players throw punches at their opponents in a level and the amount of damage you take is marked on the percentage meter on the screen. Take a whole lot of damage and you get thrown further with one punch until you fly off the screen. If that sounds familiar, it is. CNPTEXL is a game influenced by Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series (the website description says so itself) and an influence it is.

Much like Super Smash Bros Brawl, there is a story mode where playable characters are unlocked. Ben 10’s Vilgax is taking over the worlds of Cartoon Network’s various IPs and now all the titular characters of these shows must work together to save the day.

The story is accompanied with a full narration by the guy watching you play the game as if it were regular TV programming, but not all of the characters are fully-voiced, which I felt was an opportunity missed. This isn’t so bad, though, because some of the voices aren’t supplied by the original voice actors.

The combat isn’t much to rave about, either. Most of the enemies can be moved with some heavy punching, and you’ll tend to be doing that most of the time. Navigating the platforms in single-player mode can be very frustrating with when you mistime a jump. You can also drag a friend along in story mode for some two-player platforming action, but some co-operation and general platforming competence is needed.

The other part of the game are your average brawling modes which range from single-player endurance battles to the 4-player Punch Time Explosion mode. These are usually played out in the game’s various arenas, which puts players an a cramped enclosed space containing an upper platform or two.

On the plus side, there is a nice roster of characters (some for nostalgic effect. Go Planet.) and they look and animate pretty well. There are also additional characters not seen in the XL-less version for the Nintendo 3DS to unlock using the points you collect in-game. Other unlockables include arenas and video clips from various CN series.

CNPTEXL had the potential. Having the cast of an entire cable TV network sprawled on your TV screen is a good idea, but the game is lacking in the things that can make it a memorable experience. For those wanting a brawler for the PS3 (or Xbox 360, for that matter), CNPTEXL can be a nice place to start. But if you have a Wii, stick to Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

Graphics 7.0
It’s nice to see an entire network worth of animated characters come to life.
Sound 6.0
Not all of the characters are voiced by their original actors, an opportunity wasted.
Gameplay 5.0
You’ll see yourself reusing the most effective move over and over if you’re really interested in progressing.
Lasting Appeal 5.0
There’s content to unlock, but it boils down on whether going through the entire game is worth your while.
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Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL is a game by Papaya Studios developed for Crave Entertainment for the PlayStation 3 as well as on the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion also on the Nintendo 3DS. Single- and two-player gameplay tested.