Review: Cartoon Network Battle Crashers (3DS)

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I don’t know why, but I had hopes for this one to turn out alright. I thought to myself “Hey, maybe Magic Pockets has learned ever since churning out that crappy 2013 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game” and “Hey, maybe Game Mill can finally publish a tolerable game for once”. But nope. Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers is that stereotypical licensed title that was actually guaranteed to fail. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and and this game is just a grim reminder of that fact.

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Battle Crashers reminds me a lot of the Nicktoons video games that came out during the mid-to-late 2000s. It bears a rather uncanny resemblance. Both involve a group of children’s cartoons crossing over with one another in below-average beat ’em up games. Yet, as I played through this game, I couldn’t help but wish that I was playing the DS version of Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots instead.

This game is also on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, but after reading this review, you’ll know that saving your $30 for something else is actually the best option to utilize.

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Story

The plot is silly, but it is justified being that the cause of the in-game conflict is from none other than Uncle Grandpa. He sleeps in his van despite driving and some random evildoer sneaks in and pulls the gear lever to “Break Dimensions”. That’s about all there is to the plot, and I do suppose it fits with the character. However, the flow of the game literally shoehorns the rest of the characters into the mix. They just stand around waiting for the player to declare them playable. What exactly is Steven Universe even doing here? Isn’t it established he doesn’t want to kill things? With oversights like that, it’s obvious the developers didn’t do their research.

Graphics

The graphics are probably the best part of Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers. They are faithful to the respective shows represented in the game, and the animation is fairly fluid. Good thing too because the colorful landscapes and characters are the most interesting things in the game, bar none.

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Audio

Of all the ways to compose music for this game, why a primitive synthesizer? It’s like one of those things that tries to sound retro but ends up resulting in clunky awkwardness. None of the music in the game is anything memorable, either. Hope you enjoy the sound effects, because that’s the best the sound department could offer in this case. For better or for worse, the characters aren’t voiced by anyone let alone their TV voice actors.

Gameplay

Why does the beat ’em up genre usually have the same flaws being reused over and over again in crappy games? Throughout my time playing this, I’ve experienced a sense of deja vu because I was feeling the same kind of utter boredom I got when playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2013. Nicktoons: Attack of the Toybots on DS carried a few of these same issues, but it did at least provide a sense of challenge and variety. Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers just reeks of being the same flat monotonous style of play the whole way through.

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There’s no real strategy or variety of any kind. Just a bunch of mindless button-mashing. You know you’re playing something lazy when there are identical-looking hazards on the floor; that’s not challenge! That’s just letting the player know to not to that place on the screen! Beating the crap out of enemies should have been a lot of fun, but instead it comes off as a tedious chore. This is probably because each level in the game takes about five to eight minutes longer than they should! Then again, Toybots‘s levels were on the long side, but its combat was still more engaging. Special attacks and character upgrading does make enemy encounters a little easier to swallow, but the fights are no less tiresome. Boss fights are a bit more exciting, but still come off as dragging for too long.

And just when there seems like that’s all there is to complain about, Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers will every now and then make you revisit levels to grab some glorified arbitrary key to access the next new level. As soon as this started happening, I just wanted to put the game down. It also sparks another plothole; Steven should know his way around the very place he lives in, so why do I need to go back to another world to grab a damn map for it?!

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Verdict

At first, I only thought this game was mediocre. When I continued rallying up the problems I faced playing it, though, that was when I decided Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers is pretty bad. It’s a waste of potential that could have easily been better off being handled by a talented studio like Wayforward. They have done justice to Adventure Time and Regular Show on the 3DS in the past, after all. Even the clumsily-executed Super Smash Bros. clone, Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion, is better than this flop.

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