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


  • Errrrbo - December 9, 2011 11:37 a.m.

    So... why did this get a 5? 5 is so-so, and Hollander's review makes it sound pretty below average. Why are reviewers so scared of giving games low scores?
  • GR HollanderCooper - December 9, 2011 11:49 a.m.

    If you took a test and got a 5/10, would you think you did well?
  • Jordanonfire - December 9, 2011 11:56 a.m.

    Lol, in half of my classes a 40-50 is a C.
  • g4m3rk1dd - December 9, 2011 noon

    in half of my classes 50 and below was an F :| in the other half below 65 was an F :| youth today man i tell ya...
  • Jordanonfire - December 9, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    Mechanical Engineering is no joke.
  • talleyXIV - December 9, 2011 1:54 p.m.

    -60 F, 60-70 D, 70-80 C, 80-90 B, 90-100 A.That is how all my classes work.
  • profile0000 - December 9, 2011 12:01 p.m.

    That's a good point.
  • comaqi - December 9, 2011 12:02 p.m.

    But doesn't that make you fall into the review score trap? If 6 is just meh then there's not a half way point. Just sayin.
  • GR HollanderCooper - December 9, 2011 1:47 p.m.

    There doesn't need to be a half-way point. It's a review. We're telling you how good it is and giving you a number to compare it to other games.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - December 9, 2011 12:32 p.m.

    It's weird. The 10 point scale usually equates closer to a 5 point scale since we're so familiar with the grading scale we dealt with in school, where everything below a 60% was failing, and anything below that was just degrees of failure. It's why the numbering system and aggregate score sites are so bonked sometimes. Is an C from a 70% or a 50%? Is a 5 mediocre or is it below failing. Is 3 stars out of 5 comparable to a 5, 6, or 7? Different sites (and different reviewers on each site) have their own way of defining this and they don't often line up. I think the real takeaway here is that you're telling us that this game is BETTER (!?) than exactly half of Halo Reach.
  • TheCakeIsaPie - December 9, 2011 2 p.m.

    Yes, I believe that is the true lesson here.
  • cL7oud hero - December 9, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    Damn koopa troopa, you were really hard on this game.
  • soggysage - December 9, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    The toilet dude was a villain from Codename: Kids Next Door, which fucking rocked. Shame the same can't be said about this game, but d'oh well I'm pretty sure no licenced game from CN is any good.
  • talleyXIV - December 9, 2011 1:56 p.m.

    That show was alright but then I grew up and became tired of the stereotypical black girl yelling all the time.
  • 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
  • z50macdaddy - December 9, 2011 1:03 p.m.

    No Ed Edd or Eddy = No buy
  • garnsr - December 9, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    I'd play a Space Ghost fighter.

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000