Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL preview Hands-on with the Super Smash Bros. inspired brawler

Brawlers are practically nonexistent on consoles outside of the Wii, and with the next Super Smash Bros. coming out in who knows when, what are mascot rumble enthusiasts to do? Enter Cartoon Network’s Punch Time Explosion XL – a brawler featuring the popular cartoon characters from Cartoon Network’s many T.V. shows. With 26 playable characters including: the Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Johnny Bravo, Dexter from Dexter’s Laboratory, Ben 10, and narration by Space Ghost’s George Lowe, it’s a game brawler fans will want to check out.

Essential to every mascot battle frenzy is being able to play with friends. Punch Time Explosion’s multiplayer takes inspiration from the Super Smash Bros. series pitting up to four players against one another with the goal of knocking each other out of an arena. Controls are nearly identical to Super Smash Bros. Brawl. – standard attacks, special attacks, blocking and throwing are the main arsenal. Beating down characters raises opponents’ percentage ratings causing them to be more easily booted off the stage. Usable items in the form of Cartoon Network logoed cubes randomly appear throughout the match which players can pick up to release random assistant characters – much like how the pokeballs worked in Smash Bros. Super moves can also be used to devastate the competition. When a character takes damage, they drop a blue cube, filling the Punch Time Explosion meter if collected. Once filled, players are able to unleash a Punch Time Explosion super move unique to their character. Some are screen nukes, while others provide various combat bonuses.

Stages are based on the worlds of the Cartoon Network Cartoons with familiar locales like: the Best Friends Room from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Candied Island from Flapjack, and Mandark’s Laboratory from Dexter’s Lab. Each has unique layouts and will often contain environmental hazards to mix things up.

There are plenty of additional characters, costumes, and cartoon clips unlockable through the in-game store if players complete sections of the single player campaign and compete in multiplayer matches. Alternate costumes completely change the look of characters – putting Samurai Jack in a ninja suit or completely changing the Powerpuff Girls into the Rowdyruff Boys. Iconic Cartoon Network moments, like how Samurai Jack met the Scotsman, can also be unlocked and viewed in short, one minute clips.

We were impressed with Punch Time Explosion XL’s beautiful graphics, inspired presentation and dedication to fan service. The gameplay felt solid and the feel of the characters and worlds were there, but we are interested to see how Punch Time Explosion XL’s gameplay will stand up to the likes of the Super Smash Bros. series when it hits retail.

Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion is scheduled to release November 15 on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii.

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