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Review: Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers

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#NotMyStevenUniverse

Something terrible has happened to our children in the last decade and we haven't even noticed or cared. The characters and cartoons they love have been turned into awful cash-in video games that don't even bother to get basic details correct. Forget the Ghostbusters reboot, we are literally buying games for our children and destroying their childhoods right in front of them while it is happening. 

I'm beginning to think that game publishers and or developers actively dislike children, as time and time again I play games based on licenses meant for kids that are absolutely atrocious. I'm not saying buying this game for your kid is definitely child abuse, but I am saying at the very least you must fucking hate them.

Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers (3DS, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)
Developer: Magic Pockets
Publisher: GameMill Entertainment
Released: November 4, 2016
MSRP: $29.99

As a beat-'em-up aficionado and honorary Crystal Gem, I couldn't pass up the chance to review the first console game featuring the lovable star of Steven Universe. Four hours later, I'm just thankful the game is over and I can purge it from my memory. Not only is this one of the most mundane and boring games in the genre, it absolutely doesn't give a drop of piss about handling the IPs represented with any care at all.

Everyone's least favorite Cartoon Network character, Uncle Grandpa, accidentally jumps through different dimensions (or in this case show universes) collecting a bunch of characters from other shows on the network including Steven Universe, Gumball, Clarence, Finn and Jake from Adventure Time, and Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show. From there the characters travel across levels from each of their shows beating up the same few enemies repeatedly.

While repetition is not unknown to the genre, this is the first time I've ever played a beat-'em-up that forces you to replay entire levels, seemingly just to extend play time. Each world consists of two levels and a boss fight, and before I even got to fight the second boss I was forced to replay one of the first two levels to get an item allowing me to advance. This might be understandable if it were an item I just happened to pass up, but instead, the item is only there when the game wants you to get it. On top of that, the items themselves don't actually do anything other than unlock the next level, after you go back and replay the level in which they are required. For those of you keeping track, that means you not only have to replay a previous level but complete the level in which the item is required twice as well. 

All the playable characters unlock rather quickly as you meet them in the first few levels, and each plays differently with their own moves and stats that can be leveled up. Each character has a basic attack and two different special attacks that require a meter be charged by hitting some baddies. In my experience, Finn and Jake are the most useful as Jake can transform into three different forms: a hammer, a boomerang, and a stretchy Dhalsim-like arm that pulls enemies in. It also doesn't hurt that the duo from Adventure Time does the most damage by default. Other characters feel underpowered or have a rather short range to their attacks, or special abilities that are useless like having a jet pack or high jumping. Characters can be switched on the fly and each has their own independent health bar, which means all of them have to die before you're forced to restart the level; something that I never experienced aside from the one time I died on purpose just to see what happens. 

Perhaps the biggest sin of all is just how dull the whole affair is. I don't understand how you can possibly have these colorful characters and shows yet somehow manage to make them feel like lifeless robots in comparison to their animated selves. The main characters don't even talk aside from a couple of lines of text when you first meet them, and there is no voiced dialogue in the game whatsoever. That's right, no cute quotes from Steven or hearing Finn yell "Mathematical," but hey, at least they look like the characters they are supposed to be, so there is that.

I can't talk much about the other series involved, but the handling of Steven and the Steven Universe levels is lazy and offensive if you're a dedicated fan. Can you guess what Steven's main weapon is? Did you guess that he blows a bubble in front of him and has it pop enemies in the face? Me either. In the show, Steven uses his bubbling power to either protect himself and others from harm, or to capture corrupted gems, but never to attack. On top of that, the first item you have to backtrack to get is a map of Beach City, also known as Steven's home which he would certainly not need a map to navigate. Finally, the boss of the Steven Universe levels isn't one of the various reoccurring villains from the show but Frybo, the mascot suit from Beach Citywalk Fries, a character that is canonically dead after being given a fiery burial at sea. 

This is easily one of the most boring games I've ever played. I found myself falling asleep playing it mid-afternoon while streaming it on Twitch even though I was well rested. It takes a lot to be put to sleep in front of an audience, but like television magicians, this game has got it. You too can fall asleep with up to three other friends playing locally if you so choose.

Seriously, though, this budget-priced cash-in should be avoided at all costs, even if you're a die-hard fan of the shows. And parents, please don't ruin your kids' childhood by buying them this piece of trash. Instead, just loudly have sex in the next room over. Trust me, that one leaves a mark.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers reviewed by Jed Whitaker

1.5

COMPLETE FAILURE

The lowest of the low. There is no potential, no depth and no talent. It has nothing to offer the world, and will die lonely and forgotten.
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    Filed under... #3DS #beat em ups #cartoons #PS4 #reviews #Xbox One

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