Review: Cartoon Network Battle Crashers (Switch) - Japan-based Nintendo Podcasts, Videos & Reviews!


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Review: Cartoon Network Battle Crashers (Switch)

By Sairus Delaney

It's Cash-In Time!
Cartoon Network Battle Crashers is a side scrolling brawler that brings together the main characters of Cartoon Network’s stable of popular TV shows. 

There’s a very short functional story that smashes all the characters’ universes together. It’s not going to win any awards, but it serves its purpose just fine. Locations and characters are all faithfully recreated, so if you’re a fan of any of the shows represented you’ll probably get a kick out of the cute fan service touches dotted throughout the game. 

The game is fully multiplayer, with up to 4 players being able to drop in and out at any time. The controls are quite simple and run fine on a single joycon so it’s easy to get a group session going.
Unfortunately, while the game looks great and authentic in screenshots, shody animation undermines the nice visuals during play. Putting it bluntly, I honestly think this game probably started as a Flash web browser game that someone decided to push as a full console release. Animations are floaty and cheap and don’t match the quality of the individual drawings. It also controls okay, but is absolutely nothing special.

Each of the six franchises represented has their own world, which is broken up into two scrolling stages and a boss battle. For those counting, that’s twelve full stages, which is actually quite a healthy amount for a side scroller like this. Each stage tries to mix things up with unique mechanics like lower gravity or an auto scrolling camera and the occasional bonus stage, but ultimately every stage still feels mostly the same. Difficulty modifiers are also unlocked for each stage as you progress, but after a single playthrough I can’t really imagine anyone going back to play this much.
This repetitive stage problem is compounded by many stages requiring you to return to and complete a previous stage to retrieve a key of some kind. The backtracking feels horribly tacked on and a desperate attempt to pad out the length of the game.

Each franchise is given one playable character, or set of characters, which any player can freely swap between at any time during a stage. Characters all begin mostly identically, but by defeating enemies and collecting gems you can level up to unlock new abilities, which do start to make each unit feel mostly unique.

Each unit has an elemental quality to their attacks which lets you destroy stage hazards, or do more damage to enemies of an opposing type. As the game progresses the stages get more densely packed with traps and elementally tuned enemies, so you’re encouraged to swap between characters often. Unfortunately, characters are completely unbalanced, and while some characters are useful to use to destroy traps, they are so much weaker it almost feels like a punishment to be forced to play as them them.
Every world introduces one or two new enemies, but there is still a very limited pool to fight. By the end of the game and I was pretty sick of fighting the same banana guards and penguins for the millionth time. Elemental variations of each enemy type don’t do much to mix things up.

The bosses are also famous characters pulled from each of the franchises, and while the first boss is big and exciting, they very quickly taper off into quite banal fights that can be finished off quickly by just mashing attack. The final boss is the one exception that requires some simple platforming and it is a painful experience because of the game’s clunky jump controls.
One of the most striking things about the game is how poor the sound is. Despite pulling from so many franchises, none of the characters are actually voiced. None of the music or sound effects are sourced from any of the shows either. 

Overall, this game is a classic licensed cash grab, but it’s not awful. It’s a short, low effort game that never really surprises and tries too hard, and fails to justify its price tag. If you have a some kids who are familiar with one or two of the franchises, this would be a fine distraction, but only if you can find the game at a steep sale price.

Final Score: 4.5


Sairus Delaney said...

What made this extra disappointing for me is Steven Universe in particular has 2 other games available which are both pretty fantastic. Clearly with some love, Cartoon Network are capable of greenlighting good licensed games.

Famicomplicated said...

More like Cartoon Network Battle Cash-iners, amiright?


Is this thing on?