Tag Archives: smash bros

FGC #393 Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL

CARTOONS!To every game, turn turn turn, there is a season, turn turn turn…

Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion was originally a 2011 release for the Nintendo 3DS, and then resurfaced six months later as Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL, a slightly expanded version intended for consoles. At its core, CN:PTE is a Smash Bros clone starring the heroes and heroines of various Cartoon Network shows.

And that was everyone’s initial problem: CN:PTE is a lousy copy of Smash Bros.

First of all, “copy of Smash Bros” does not just mean this is a generic four person mascot fight ‘em up with some weird new feature wedged in there; no, this is just straight up Smash Bros. More specifically, it’s Smash Bros. Brawl, as the trophy assists of that title have been adapted to include random Cartoon Network stars like Numbah 362 and Cheese, the most annoying imaginary friend ever. Other than that “change”, this is just Smash Bros, with death being based on falling off the screen, and damage being accumulated through an increasing percentage meter. And, let’s face it, this is a brazen and fairly insane route to take for a game that was clearly intended for systems with better options. We were still three years away from Super Smash Bros. 4 3DS, but the Wii had hosted Brawl for years, and who didn’t own a Wii? My mother owns a Wii! There are better options for Smash times, because, without a doubt, this is a dreadful smash clone. All of the characters control in a very “floaty” manner, a number of the special moves seem like excuses for suicide (forward + special is yet another dash move that will toss you off a cliff, yay!), and, while we’re examining every little flaw, most of these characters do not naturally lend themselves to a moveset. Get emIf a videogame neophyte chooses Charizard, the humongous, flaming dragon, our featured noob can still make a pretty good guess at what the special button is going to do (fire-breath seems like a lock). You might get a similar reaction out of CN’s scythe-wielding Grim Reaper, but Billy and Mandy? Or Dexter? Or Flapjack? Did that kid ever actually fight anything in his franchise?

Which brings us to the next big issue: the roster is unerringly confusing. You’ve got representatives from Johnny Bravo, Codename: Kids Next Door, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Powerpuff Girls, and even Chowder. Want to know what all those shows have in common? They were all cancelled before the release of this game! And it’s not just a matter of “maybe the game was delayed a month or two”, no, the last PPG episode was in 2005, so we’re looking at a title that was released two years after the 10th Anniversary Special. And just go ahead and rub the salt in the Samurai Jack and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack wounds. I don’t care if Jack eventually came back! That cancellation is still raw! It’s understandable to toss in a few “old” characters for posterity’s sake (Johnny Bravo should always be remembered), but this is less “Ice Climbers are here” and more “The latest Smash Bros will exclusively star Urban Champion and Excite Biker”. In fact, if you really comb the roster, you’ll find that the only franchise that was still in production during 2011 was Ben 10… Which is likely why they made him the star of story mode.

BARFSo maybe the story mode is worthwhile? Nope! It’s got the same dreadful physics as the rest of the game, and, give or take a side adventure or two involving lasers, it’s just a mediocre beat ‘em up where you don’t even have to beat ‘em up half the time. And there’s a minecart section! And, God, it somehow has an even worse physics engine than every other part of the game. It’s like the design team wanted to see just how repellant one over-merchandized bit of merchandise could be. Maybe the game tastes bad, too? I didn’t test that, but I haven’t licked any of my discs in a while, might be worth a check.

But one thing about story mode does stand out. Even if the gameplay is atrocious, even if the levels are more tedious than shouting about clowns coming to destroy us all, and even if you’re forced into playing as Ben 10 far too often; even with all that, there is something magical happening. The plot of PTE is simple: a dude has decided he’s going to watch some Cartoon Network, but his remote control has gone maliciously haywire, and is attempting to corrupt and otherwise damage the fine programs you’d find on the best cartoon channel around. Nothing too complicated there… Except the “narrator” watching TV is George Lowe. George Lowe, best known as the voice of Tad Ghostal aka Space Ghost, host of Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Cartoon Planet. And, well, that’s enough to get my attention.

WeeeeeeCartoon Network’s programs, and the cartoon characters featured in this game, are not my childhood. My local cable package didn’t even receive Cartoon Network until I was old enough to be embarrassed by watching such a thing. And, even before that, it wasn’t like CN had that much original programming. Ultimately, I had already ruined a good two proms before I ever caught sight of Courage the Cowardly Dog. But, despite my advanced age (almost ready for college!), I did watch Cartoon Network. I watched “Adult Swim” before it was Adult Swim. I watched a pile of Cartoon Network shows, old and new, basically because, well, what else was on? Some people watch The Real World or game shows, I watched Criss Cross Crisis reruns until my eyes bled. It wasn’t like I was a dedicated fan or something, it was simply what I flipped to when I had nothing better to do. And, particularly during my college years, it seemed like I had a lot of time for such vegetative watching. Doing some horrible calculus homework? May as well watch Johnny Bravo while I’m at it.

And I’m well aware that I fetishize my own childhood, but it came as something of a surprise to me that I’m also a sucker for nostalgia that originated a mere decade (and change) ago. Who knew that Space Ghost would immediately up my engagement levels by about 1000%? And the rest of the cast! They may have been “retired” by the time the game premiered, but now, years later, it’s like revisiting old friends. I never really cared for Kids Next Door or Chowder, but seeing them again, after all this time, it’s… refreshing. It does my heart good. These characters and shows may be off the air now, and their home network may be a completely different animal, but this disc-based time capsule of a long forgotten epoch has healed this old man’s broken heart.

GET IT!?In any objective way, Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion is not a good game. In 2011, it was a disappointment (you’ve had Finn the Human on the air for nearly two years, guys! And could you put more than ten minutes into filing the numbers off Smash Bros?), and in 2018, it should be a disappointment again. But, somehow, divorced from its original eon and system (I am technically playing this on the WiiU), it’s engaging. And, even more than that, it’s fun. It might just be nostalgia for a bygone era, but, dammit, it works.

Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion, your time has finally come.

FGC #393 Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL

  • System: Nintendo 3DS for the original version, and then XL hit on Wii, Playstation 3, and Xbox 360. Sorry, the Vita wasn’t quite available yet.
  • Number of players: As a Smash clone, the answer must be four.
  • Missed Opportunities: Some complained that, while “old” Cartoon Network shows were being featured anyway, there should have been Courage the Cowardly Dog and Ed, Edd, and Eddy on the roster. However, while Courage had a great show, he is maybe not the most suited to a fighting environment. And, as for Ed, Edd, and Eddy? Nobody ever liked that show, so I can understand why it wasn’t included.
  • Hey, I liked Ed, Edd, and Eddy! No. No I assure you, you did not.
  • Other Complaints: It appears all of the items exist exclusively to be picked up and thrown. There isn’t a super mushroom or Franklin Badge or any other doodads that do anything more interesting than “is a projectile”. Considering the wealth of “items” available in various CN shows, that is a major disappointment.
  • Favorite Featured Cartoon Network Show: I still have a hard time believing there was ever a cartoon that featured a Caribbean Grim Reaper palling around with a megalomaniacal girl and her marginally brain dead sidekick. And sometimes they went to Hogwarts! But it had Weird Al! As a squid! Just do yourself a favor and watch The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.
  • Favorite Assist Toon: For reasons that were never succinctly explained, Dracula in the Billy and Mandy Universe is a 70’s Disco Fiend…
    Get down!

    And that’s the best thing that ever happened.
  • Samurai Back: One of the stages is Samurai Jack’s home kingdom prior to Aku’s attack. Man, it really has to sting to finally make it home only for it to be a two minute fight against Captain Planet.
  • An End: The narrator is never seen, but, in response to losing his (evil) remote control, “Narrator” comments that he should find a lava monster to pull one lever to change channels. So, yes, this entire game is Space Ghost: Coast to Coast: Origins. Go get yourself a Moltar, Thad!
  • Did you know? Dexter’s Laboratory and Johnny Bravo were the first two Cartoon Cartoons back in 1996 and 1997, respectively. This was followed by Cow and Chicken and I Am Weasel. If you’re curious about why you’ve never heard of those latter two shows, there’s a reason.
  • Would I play again: Honestly? Exclusively for the nostalgia, I just might. I know I’m not the only nerd around here with his head stuck in the past, and I do have four controllers…

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Young Justice Legacy for the Playstation 3! Time for some… justice? Of the… young kind? I guess! Please look forward to it!

The power of ponytails

Xenosaga Episode III Special 4: Beyond Xenosaga

Previously on Xenosaga: Xenosaga is over, folks! There are no more games left, I’ve said everything about the franchise I want to say, and I don’t think we’re going to be seeing Xenosaga HD in time for the Christmas season. It’s done, folks!

But just because a franchise ends, doesn’t mean it’s completely forgotten. Xenosaga has sent its tendrils far past its own release, so we’ll be spending this, the final update for this LP, looking at the games that Xenosaga, in some way, touched.

If you see a game’s title in bold text, fair warning, there are likely to be spoilers.

Now let’s start with the most obvious entry, the immediate sequel to Xenosaga…

Final Fantasy 13 (12/17/09 Japan, 03/09/10 USA) Playstation 3/Xbox 360

Wait… no. That’s… that’s not right…

FGC #211 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

SMAAAAAASHSuper Smash Bros For 3DS is the most confusing, straightforward game I have ever played.

The Super Smash Bros. series is not at all complicated. Like Mario Kart, I’ve found that even videogame luddites can identify this series, and you can usually get a flash of recognition from “it’s that game where Mario punches Pikachu”. And it’s not hard to see why the game is popular among gamers and muggles alike: it’s a simple, fun experience for everybody. Here’s jump, here’s punch, here’s “special”, now go to work on blasting Jigglypuff into the stratosphere. Anybody can pick up and play Smash Bros, and that’s probably the main reason anyone bought a second (or fourth) controller for the Gamecube.

And speaking of the Gamecube, Smash Bros. has been practically unchanged from its original incarnation. Alright, yes, I know there have been all sorts of changes to the formula over the years, from wavedashing to tripping to some alternate universe where Donkey Kong is actually viable, but the core of the gameplay, and the basic, amazing concept (let’s you and him fight) has been unchanged through the console generations. Mario games are astounding, but if you’re somehow buying a new one blind, it’s impossible to know if you’ll be running around in 2-D or 3-D, or whether or not this will be a Mario that acknowledges powerups at all or is stuck gobbling coins to replenish a lifemeter. Smash Bros has been Smash Bros for four console generations, and there hasn’t been a Smash Bros: Spirit Tracks or Smash Bros: Federation Force anywhere in that lineup. From the moment a Smash Bros. game is announced, you know what you’re going to get.

DRILLAnd before Smash Bros. 4 (For?) was released, there was quite a bit of glee regarding what we were going to get. Mega Man! Little Mac! Pac-Man! On a personal level, the Super Smash Bros. 4 roster seemed practically made for me. I still remember when Super Smash Bros. Brawl (3) was released, and my greatest lament about the title was that it and Super Mario Galaxy were released too close together, so we were denied any references to Rosalina, Luma, or any of the pure joy that was emblematic of Super Mario Galaxy. And now here’s Rosalina and Luma! And a Galaxy stage with that amazing Galaxy music! Why more could I ask for? The Koopa Kids? The return of Ike? A Mega smash that featured multiple generations of fighting robots? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Super Smash Bros. 4 seems like it was made for me, practically from its first preview.

And Nintendo knew this. And Nintendo did its best to trick me.

Super Smash Bros For the Nintendo 3DS sounds like a wonderful idea. It’s a Smash Bros. game, and it’s portable. That should be all it takes! I want to say I committed roughly eleventy billion hours to Super Smash Bros. Melee. I didn’t play Super Smash Bros. Brawl nearly as much, but I did unlock the trophy that only appears after playing some ludicrous number of hours, so it certainly saw some usage. Even if Smash 4 3DS was just going to be Brawl again, I’d get it for that all important portability factor. But with the full roster we’d find on the console version, Smash 4 3DS was a no-brainer. I love Smash Bros! I’ll love it just as much on the terlet.

I want oneExcept…

I said I devoted hours and hours to Melee, but my own Melee save doesn’t reflect the “real” number of hours I’ve played the game. Why? Well, because a lot of hours I remember playing Melee took place at a friend’s house (and on a friend’s system). I had the “base” Gamecube when I went away to college, but in the local neighborhood, most of the playtime was spent on my buddy Sean’s ‘cube, because he had parents that were cool with us abusing his den until 2 AM. And, in thinking about it, I probably would have played Brawl as much as Melee, but even by Brawl’s release, I had gradually aged out of the “let’s play videogames until the sun comes up” demographic. Brawl saw a lot of play with my friends, but it was generally during previously unthinkable daylight hours, and before someone had to get back to feed the dog/kids/other walking responsibilities. Make no mistake, I did personally complete all one player challenges in previous Smash Bros. games, but that wasn’t what kept me coming back after breaking a few analog sticks; that would be the friends breaking my analog sticks.

So, when I really thought about it, I realized I didn’t need Super Smash Bros For 3DS. It’s a party game on a system that is party-adverse. Yes, there’s online play, but that was never the scene for Smash Bros; Smash is all about hopping on the couch and pummeling your friends until they start pummeling back in reality. Get there!“Quiet” Pokémon may easily be played with friends across the internet, but Smash deserves the big screen and few friendships broken through excessive shouting. I’m sure this is fairly old fashioned thinking, but Smash isn’t Smash to me unless I can see my opponent sweat those final thirty seconds. That is impossible on the 3DS.

So, naturally, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. For 3DS about a month before Super Smash Bros. for WiiU. And, yes, I’m weak. I probably would have purchased six copies if Nintendo gave me a remotely valid reason.

And that’s when the weirdness started.

As you might expect, I happily played Super Smash Bros. For 3DS (again, a game practically made for me). The game contains a host of one-player content, and, more importantly, a reason to play the one-player content (must… unlock… more… characters…). Smash Run could be a mere distraction of a mode, but the promise that you might collect all those rad special moves and extra outfits is enough to keep my attention for hours. It’s been a long time since I felt I had to unlock every last bit of content in a videogame (… when did Lightning Returns come out?), but I knew, with Super Smash Bros For WiiU on the way, I may as well get in all my practice on the 3DS version now. Maybe I’ll even have a super-powered Dark Pit to transfer into the console release!

And that’s about when it hit me: I wasn’t playing Super Smash Bros. For 3DS like a Smash Bros game, I was playing it like a demo.

Complete with batSuper Smash Bros. For 3DS is a real game. It easily features more one-player content than Super Smash Bros. (N64), and I’m pretty sure there’s more to do than in Super Smash Bros. Melee. This is the largest Smash Bros. roster ever (even if you don’t count the “uncombined” characters), and just completing basic “smash mode” with each character takes some time (and skill). There’s a strangely robust final boss, and an innumerable number of minions lurking around Smash Run. And there is multiplayer (even if it’s not couch-based) that only requires the simplest of Wi-Fi connections to get out and smash the world. This is, in every way, a Smash Bros. game, and not even an incomplete one at that.

But… I played it like a demo. I played it thinking “yes, this is a fun technique, I will use this knowledge on the real game”. I played it taking notes on what might be useful when I’m fighting my friends in a month. I played it observing every tactic I could utilize when I tackle Master Hand again, during the actual game. There is barely any practical difference between one-player mode on the 3DS versus WiiU, but I beat the 3DS version’s challenges knowing full well that I’d be doing it again “for real” on the WiiU. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was the appetizer, the WiiU version was the main course, and I never played either game without that (subconsciously) in mind.

chompAnd this causes me to get stuck in an infinite loop of sorts. The game is just as robust as every other Smash Bros! But I haven’t touched it since the WiiU version was released… But that’s just because you don’t play it portably! But I don’t play it portably because I feel like I’m not making progress on the “real” game. But that’s just a fabricated idea, it’s just as robust as any other Smash Bros…

This game should be a forthright, mindless experience.

But it leaves me… jumbled.

And I have no idea why I bought all this DLC for a game I don’t even play…

FGC #211 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS

  • System: Well, you know what, I’m going to say Nintendo 3DS.
  • Number of players: Technically four! Though I will never see the other three players…
  • Oh, like you don’t have friends with portable systems: You know what? Most of my friends have console systems, but it’s their kids with the portables nowadays. And it just seems weird to ask an eight year old if he wants to play videogames tonight.
  • PLINKFavorite Character (conceptually): The fact that Mega Man gets his biggest showcase in the last decade on a Nintendo game is not lost on me. I can’t play as the character for a damn, but man am I just happy he’s here. Fight for everlasting pieces of that Dragoon, little metal boy.
  • Favorite Characters (for realsies): He might be DLC, but Roy is my boy (and, man, did I think I was never going to see that guy again). Something about beefy, fiery hits just gets my motor revving.
  • So, did you beat it? I collected every damn challenge trophy before Super Smash Bros. For WiiU was released. I’m pretty sure I mastered playing this “demo” while asleep to pull that one off. Though I think I did golden hammer that one challenge about collecting every special move.
  • Feel like anyone is missing from the roster? Nope.
  • Did you know? Including his Black Hole Bomb final smash, Mega Man has a special move from each of his adventures… except Mega Man 10, 5, and V. Though I guess Beat works as a Mega Man 5 rep. Still would have liked to see the Spark Chaser, though.
  • Would I play again: You’d think this would be a yes, but there is evidence to the contrary.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… The Tick for Sega Genesis. Get ready for a heaping spoonful of justice! Please look forward to it!

Does it count?