Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL review

  • A varied roster
  • Assist Characters
  • Narration by Space Ghost
  • Poor controls
  • Unentertaining story mode
  • Your favorite character likely isn’t in it

We were really hoping we could start this review with the following sentence: “If you’re looking for a mediocre Super Smash Bros. clone with your favorite Cartoon Network characters, look no further than Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL!” but, after playing Crave Entertainment’s cartoony brawler, we can’t bring ourselves to give it even that amount of acclaim.

XL is an upgraded version of the 3DS Punch Time Explosion from a few months back, and bumps the roster from 18 to 26. For many, the roster is going to be the biggest selling point, as it typically is in games that look to mash franchises together, and to that point it basically does its job. Characters like Johnny Bravo, Samurai Jack, and Captain Planet will be great for fans of ‘80s and ‘90s cartoons, while Mac and Bloo from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and a number of characters from Ben 10 will give younger gamers some faces they recognize. But while it covers a wide variety of series, it certainly feels like it should cover even more – especially considering how much double dipping takes place. Sure, the Power Puff Girls could all have their own move sets, but making them pallet-swaps in favor of adding two more varied characters would have definitely upped the value.

XL also cleans up the 3DS version’s story mode a bit and adds new enemies and bosses to the campaign, which models itself closely after Brawl’s Subspace Emissary by mashing together a bunch of Cartoon Network’s properties into one big, sloppy story.

And beyond being sloppy, it isn’t very fun. Players are thrown into different worlds and asked to fight against uninteresting enemies in uninteresting locations that only barely draw inspiration from the television shows they’re referencing. Platforming through the world of Kids Next Door should be much different than jumping along the rooftops of Townsville, but… it isn’t.

Above: Check out a developer diary and spot if you can guess where it all went wrong

Only some of the levels are actually interesting, using unique mechanics to separate them from the other worlds, but the platforming and combat is too weak to fully take advantage of it. Even narration from George Lowe – the voice of Space Ghost – didn’t make us want to play through the entire campaign, and we’d listen to him read a phone book.

Though we’d have been more accepting of the lackluster story and less-than-stellar roster if the game was actually any fun to play. Brawlers should at least be dumb fun, but even without holding it up in comparison to Smash Bros. the combat is really weak and unfulfilling. Characters’ moves aren’t very creative, the controls feel sluggish, and the timing is all over the place. Once we saw all of the characters and got over the initial nostalgia of seeing Johnny Bravo riding a motorcycle we simply didn’t want to play anymore, even with friends.

Frustration with controls and poor gameplay meant that our main enjoyment came from rushing to use the game’s Assist Characters, who drop like items (think the Assist Trophies or Pokeballs from Smash Bros.), but even that fun was short lived – especially considering a majority of them aren’t very good, and some are actually just annoying. Cheese from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, for instance, runs around and screams when he’s unlocked, and the noise is so annoying that it actually made us stop playing.

As fans of most of the games featured in the roster and big fans of the genre in general we desperately wanted to like this game, and from the description it sounded like there was a chance. There are unlockables, multiple game modes, and all of the typical bonuses you’d expect from a brawler, but the cool characters and interesting items do little to dig Punch Time XL out of the hole its poor gameplay burrows – not even Space Ghost, and we love that guy.

More Info

Available Platforms: Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, 3DS
Published by: Deep Silver
Developed by: Papaya Studios


  • josh-moorehead - September 5, 2014 7:03 p.m.

    I didn't find it to be that bad. Of course I've only played the n64 version of smash bros and playstation all stars. Even though I don't have much to compare it to, I still get a sense of satisfaction with playing chowder and belching in someone's face. I play this with my kids and we have a lot of fun. I do agree with others that cn left out some noteworthy characters but compared to some of the indie garbage being released to playstation plus members, its a breath of fresh air. I also think that this may be geared towards a younger audience. To me this is one of those " you like it or you don't" kind of games. If you are reading these reviews before trying it, dont. Form your own opinion or you could be missing out on somthing fun.
  • titleofusername98 - December 30, 2011 8:04 a.m.

    I didn't think this game would be any good. But after playing it I realized... I was still right.
  • Dadyo238 - December 11, 2011 2:35 p.m.

    Even though they have a lot of people hating on them, it's like the Big N can invent a genre that nobody can replicate. Take Mario Kart, Super Smash Bros., Zelda...
  • CH3BURASHKA - December 11, 2011 4:17 a.m.

    Can't say this was a surprise, but I'm pretty bummed. Cartoon Network has such a great roster spanning the decades, and if they had attempted to make an actual game rather than a boxback checklist, this could have been awesome. Any game is worth picking up at 5 bucks, which I will do, but it still sucks Courage the Cowardly Dog gets shafted in his first (second) video game outing. PS This seems like a good time as any to say that Telltale should pick up the Courage the Cowardly Dog license and make it episodic.
  • gondarpwns - December 9, 2011 8:04 p.m.

    well i had high hopes like Hollander but ehhh not every game can be awesome like SSB..... No ed edd and eddy, no buy
  • shawksta - December 9, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    Space Ghost was Narrating!? My God this couldve been AWESOME, too bad its not. Regular show and Adventure time shouldve made it but oh well. Rigby's already in UMVC3 anyway. There goes what couldve been an awesome game.
  • codystovall - December 9, 2011 3:33 p.m.

    This is sadder than when Marcelines dad ate her fries....
  • igothitwithabulb - December 9, 2011 5:27 p.m.

    Didn't the Ice King's dad do that, too?
  • emeraldphoenix7 - December 9, 2011 2:17 p.m.

    I totally would've bought this if it had Mordecai, Rigby, Finn or Jake in it. Alas, it does not, and so all we have here is absolute tosh.
  • GR HollanderCooper - December 9, 2011 3:04 p.m.

  • talleyXIV - December 9, 2011 2:02 p.m.

    Go to 3:12 in that awful dev diary, and you can see how mature the makers are.
  • talleyXIV - December 9, 2011 1:53 p.m.

    So it isn't better than Halo: Reach?! Blasphemy. Anyway, Cartoon Network has really fallen since the early/mid 2000s, when Ed, Edd, N' Eddy went, I did too. Maybe that is just me growing up, I did become a teen when it left so I guess that makes sense. Don't really understand the game's name or the point of it when so many other great fighting games with better stories, characters, and actual gameplay exist. Sad to see CN grabbing for money with terrible games.
  • GR HollanderCooper - December 9, 2011 3:06 p.m.

    Regular Show/Adventure Time are two of the best shows on TV right now. There's no reason Cartoon Network didn't try and get this into this game. Pay whoever owns it if they don't - they're the stars.
  • garnsr - December 9, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    I'd play a Space Ghost fighter.
  • z50macdaddy - December 9, 2011 1:03 p.m.

    No Ed Edd or Eddy = No buy
  • flabslapper - December 9, 2011 12:53 p.m.

    The guy near the left is from the Kids Next Store show, I forget his name but he was supposed to be a lame bad guy who was easily manipulated...not that it really matters lol
  • talleyXIV - December 9, 2011 1:55 p.m.

    Kids Next Door? "Kids Next Store" Bahaha
  • spencertucksen - December 9, 2011 2:43 p.m.

    It's the Toilenator, if I'm not mistaken. If anyone watched the show, they'd know who it is. Lol
  • HankVenture - December 9, 2011 3:21 p.m.

    I believe you are right... it was a pretty decent show.. I enjoyed it being a teenager and all

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

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