Ruining characters from your adulthood.
Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers hurts. Sure, I've played some terrible licensed games in my life, but I also grew up on some wonderful licensed beat-'em-ups. Battle Crashers just seems to be missing any spark of creativity.
The six characters (Clarence, Finn, Gumball, Mordecai, Steven Universe and an Uncle Grandpa) travel through stale backgrounds from each show fighting a small handful of different enemies. Each character has a unique attack, charged attack and themed call-for-help mega powerup. Combat has no combo system and attacks are slow and weak.
Characters do level up by collecting little gems dropped by enemies and breakables, but I had trouble leveling everyone evenly when weaker characters could barely walk into a stage. Most of my enjoyment came from strategically taking out enemies with stronger characters before swapping in a weaker character to grab the XP. It wasn't a ton of enjoyment.
Each show gets three levels. Backgrounds are beautiful and seem to fit each show's art style, but I didn't recognize any locations. I often got caught on pieces of the environment. These pieces do add variety to combat screens and offer (some) strategical advantages when jumped upon, but even landing on them was inconsistent. Some levels have something occasionally crash from left to right (a wave of ice, for example) and jumps are just shy of making it over.
The plot forces you to revisit levels to find an item needed to advance in a way that feels like shameless padding. Replaying in the auto-healing “Fantasy Mode” or auto-hurting “Infernal Mode” did add some variety, but I would rather they be optional. A late-game slog of a maze level finally ended by asking me to replay four levels in order to find magic crystals to break down a wall blocking the level's exit. After finding the crystals, I had to replay the maze.
Combat is grueling. Attacks are slow to connect and enemies often fly out of range. Landing an attack isn't satisfying. Four elemental status effects try to keep things interesting but are relied on way too heavily later in the game.
I didn't get any sort of feel for the characters. I'm most familiar with Steven Universe, but none of his charm is here. Dialogue is short, one-sided quest-giving. The characters all look spot-on but feel hollow. The game’s two cutscenes could have been made in PowerPoint.
Cartoon Network: Battle Crashers is fine for younger players. I still feel they're being robbed of a solid experience or even meaningful engagement with their favorite brands. I did fall into the groove a few times and found myself enjoying it, but the overall experience was a punishing chore.