Tuesday, December 6, 2011

eShop Sales-Ratings: November 2011

The Nintendo eShop is Nintendo's online shop through the 3DS where people can download games from old Nintendo hardware, DSiWare games, and new download software specific for the 3DS. Because Nintendo does not disclose sales numbers, and developers are most likely barred from revealing them, we do not know how games are doing on the service.

But we might have at least a small hint.

After playing a game on the 3DS for over a hour, players are capable of rating these games via the eShop, and the totals are shown on each game page, showing up to five stars based on what the population thinks. At the very least, we now have minimum sales figures for the games, but with a very large disclaimer: these numbers represent the users who have done the following:

1) Purchased the game
2) Played the game for over an hour on the 3DS, and
3) Chose to rate the game on the eShop.

People who play the games on their DSi systems cannot rate games, nor can people who have not played the games for less than one hour. Since rating cannot be done outside of the eShop, some might have forgotten to or chosen not to rate said games. Also note that a rating does not necessarily correspond with a sale in the month in which it appears, only emphasizing the number of additional people who completed the above steps.

With that disclaimer in mind, let us take a look at how the games performed.


Free Apps
1 1 Nintendo Video 4255 28997
2 2 Pokedex 3D 4002 40287
3 3 Netflix 2192 18786

It appears that the streams are about to cross this upcoming month, as Nintendo Video and Pokedex 3D are getting closer to one another on a monthly rating scale. Pokedex 3D remains the most-rated downloaded product on the eShop, and it looks like it will remain in that position for a very long time to come.

I thought Hulu would emerge by now, but I suspect it will appear before year end. Demos may appear here as well, but we will see if there are any ways to vote for demos as they appear.

Video Downloads
1 1 Thriller 91 134
2 2 Night of the Living Carrots 72 102
3 3 The Pig Who Cried Werewolf 21 29

Just when you thought the video downloads could not do much better than last month, they did MUCH better than it. I can imagine more consistent views on these clips now that they are off Nintendo Video and are viewable in 3D. Either way, I doubt we'll see many more videos added for some time yet.

Pre-eShop DSiWare*
1 1 Plants vs. Zombies 669 4921
2 2 Photo Dojo 430 3583
3 3 Inchworm Animation 360 2474
4 4 Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! 316 3064
5 5 Cave Story 260 3312
6 7 Zenonia 182 1532
7 8 Mario Clock 176 1341
8 6 Anonymous Notes Chapter 1 - From the Abyss 170 1747
9 10 GO Series: 10 Second Run 161 1176
10 13 Shantae: Risky's Revenge 150 2216
11 14 Nintendo Countdown Calender 137 638
12 16 Pop Island - Paperfield 136 1059
13 11 Tetris Party Live 126 1299
14 9 Bomberman Blitz 110 1391
15 12 Crystal Monsters 106 915
16 15 Army Defender 97 856
17 17 JellyCar 2 84 776
18 19 Mario Calculator 79 351
19 21 Dr. Mario Express 65 717
Glory Days: Tactical Defense 62 391
21 18 Soul of Darkness 59 750
22 24 Dark Void Zero 50 733
23 36 AiRace 47 216
24 20 Gangstar 2: Kings of L.A. 45 281
25 30 Arcade Bowling 43 357
26 22 Earthworm Jim 42 262
27 23 Pop Island 39 439
28 27 Blazybloo: Super Melee Action Battle Royale 37 302
29 32 Paper Airplane Chase 36 299
30 25 My Farm 34 368
31 28 Touch Solitaire 32 397
Faceez Monsters! 31 163
33 34 5 in 1 Solitaire 27 234
34 29 Anonymous Notes Chapter 2 - From the Abyss 24 457
35 37 GO Series: Defense Wars 24 180
36 26 Extreme Hangman 23 501
37 31 Castle Conqueror 21 226
38 35 WarioWare: Snapped! 20 226
39 33 My Exotic Farm 17 220
40 40 A Topsy Turvy Life: The Turvys Strike Back 9 79
41 39 Petz Kittens 9 60
42 38 Petz Dogz Family 6 75

*This list consists of a selection of DSiWare games that released prior to June 2011 and does not reflect the actual rating listing of every previous DSiWare game released.

No real surprises here, as the usual top games continue to get their fair share of ratings on a monthly basis. Also, Petz is clearly not a franchise which will get a lot of ratings, as is Topsy Turvy Life. Either way, 15 of the 42 tracked games had over a hundred ratings, whereas last month had 17 out of 40. Total votes were 4551, down from last month's 5278. It seemed more focus was on other parts of the shop than these games.

This month we spotted this game around the Top 20:

Escapee GO! 136 136

We'll see how it goes in December!

Post-eShop DSiWare
1 1 The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition* 7491 22118
Bloons TD 305 305
Cut the Rope 158 158
4 8 1001 BlockBusters 60 97
5 2 Afterzoom 54 515
6 4 Extreme Hangman 2 51 334
7 3 Let's Create! Pottery 50 242
8 6 Magical Whip 41 143
9 5 GO Series: Fishing Resort 32 157
10 17 Castle Conqueror: Revolution 30 48
11 7 The Lost Town: The Dust 29 240
12 38 Halloween: Trick or Treat 29 35
13 9 Go! Go! Kokopolo 28 152
14 14 Crazy Hamster 27 66
15 12 My Asian Farm 20 84
16 10 Calculator 20 76
17 21 My Australian Farm 18 105
18 18 Stratego: Next Edition 17 121
19 24 Moto eXtreme 14 124
20 15 Simply Minesweeper 14 33
Escape Trick: Convenience Store 13 13
22 19 Make-Up & Style 12 110
23 16 Build-a-lot 12 68
Castle Conqueror: Heroes 12 12
25 20 Antipole 11 140
26 11 Break Tactics 11 48
27 26 Blockado - Puzzle Island 10 44
28 30 Defense of the Middle Kingdom 10 36
29 31 Bugs 'N' Balls 10 20
30 49
Academy Checkers 10 13
Come On! Heroes 10 10
32 28 Hidden Photo 9 41
33 27 GO Series: Portable Shrine Wars 9 67
34 34 Furry Legends 9 17
House M.D. - Crashed 9 9
36 29 Farm Frenzy 8 53
37 41 Jewel Keepers: Easter Island 8 57
38 22 House M.D. - Blue Meanie 8 41
39 48 DotMan 8 17
40 25 Trollboarder 7 38
41 37 Go Fetch! 2 7 19
42 13 Zoonies - Escape from Makatu 7 51
43 32 Crystal Caves of Amen-Ra 7 17
44 43 House M.D. - Skull and Bones 7 11
45 39 Pro Jumper! Guilty Gear Tangent!? 6 81
46 23 Escape Trick: Ninja Castle 6 26
1950s Lawn Mower Kids 6 6
48 33 Kung Fu Dragon 5 39
49 40 Heart Spaces Euchre 4 41
50 42 Play & Learn Spanish 3 14
51 45 Beach Party Craze 2 25
52 46 Boardwalk Ball Toss 2 20
53 36 Roller Angels 2 34
54 52 B-Team - Episode 2: Ice & Venom 2 6
Play & Learn Chinese 2 2
56 53 Gold Fever 1 20
57 44 Zimo: Mahjong Fanatic 1 23
58 55 Delbo 1 29
59 50 Puzzle Fever 1 32
60 51 Just SING! 80s Collection 0 5
61 35 Oscar's World Tour 0 14
62 47 Puzzle Rocks 0 8
63 54 Bridge 0 3
Battle of the Elements 0 0

** This game is freely available until February 2012.

This was perhaps the biggest month in terms of new DSiWare games that were not free. Obviously the freely available Four Swords game stayed on top, but two new games this month sat just below it. Bloons TD took the top spot for new games with 305 ratings, which is already enough to put it ahead of all but three games on this list for total ratings. This was followed immediately by Cut the Rope which got 158 ratings, which is still greater than any other debut outside of Four Swords or Bloons TD.

The other games did not fare as well. Battle of the Elements, which debuted the week before the month was over, got no votes this month, whereas Play & Learn Chinese sat above it with a paltry 2 votes. In regards to last month's releases, 1001 BlockBusters performed the best at 4th with 60 more votes. All of the bigger releases from months past are still high up on this list, including Let's Create Pottery, Go! Go! Kokopolo, GO Series: Fishing Resort, and Afterzoom.

In terms of the overall picture, it is mixed. 31 games of the 64 released since launch got at least ten ratings, and of those, only three surpassed a hundred ratings this month. Five games did not get a single rating, and 16 got less than five ratings. That shows that lower-tier games on DSiWare are either played for a very short period of time or are not even downloaded enough to garner much of a note on ratings.

Six months running, there are only 15 games which have more than a hundred ratings in the new DSiWare releases, and a total of 26,533 ratings encompass the whole category, 83% of which belong to a free Zelda 25th Anniversary game.

Classic Games
1 1 Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 961 2579
2 2 Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX 739 16192
3 3 Super Mario Land 530 9633
4 4 Kirby's Dream Land 341 3344
5 5 Donkey Kong 206 3812
Metroid II: Return of Samus 143 143
7 6 Mega Man: Dr. Wily's Revenge 132 645
8 7 Game & Watch Gallery 98 1012
9 8 Mario's Picross 83 993
10 9 Gargoyle's Quest 75 516
Balloon Kid 52 52
12 13 Double Dragon 50 81
13 11 Pac-Man 41 141
14 10 Catrap 36 107
15 20 Burger Time Deluxe 32 41
16 12 Alleyway 26 660
17 15 Avenging Spirit 25 174
18 14 Baseball 17 173
19 17 Qix 14 198
20 18 Radar Mission 12 228
21 16 Tennis 9 161
22 21 Side Pocket 7 15
23 19 Fortified Zone 5 107
24 22 Golf 3 24

The changes here are not entirely noticeable. The top games continue to perform well, while lesser-known games fight amongst themselves for the scraps. Metroid II debuted at 6, although I expect it to climb in December's chart. Balloon Kid, the only other release this month, got 52 ratings, which is almost 20 less than Catrap's debut. It is surprising that no third party games released this past month, as is the fact that only two games appeared at all.

Last month's titles all fell just below that of Balloon Kid. Double Dragon was the best performer of the bunch with 50 ratings. It will no doubt surpass 100 ratings in December. Meanwhile Side Pocket actually performed worse this month than last, and to date it is the lowest-performing game on these charts with a small 15 ratings. The lowest performers overall this month were Fortified Zone and Golf, which continues to sit at the bottom of the charts.

Super Mario Land 2 is catching up to the other big Classic Games, but it may take a few more months to get there. Game & Watch Gallery exceeded 1,000 ratings, while Mario's Picross will do the same in December. Overall, after six months, 41,031 ratings were made to Classic Games, with 39.5% going to Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (which is, to date, the most-rated eShop title which has never been free).

3DS Download Software
FreakyForms: Your Creations, Alive! 1249 1249
2 1 3D Classics: Excitebike* 650 18920
3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure 600 600
4 2 Let's Golf! 3D 223 1855
5 6 Pyramids 146 201
6 5 3D Classics: Xevious 106 1132
7 3 3D Classics: Twinbee 105 332
8 4 3D Classics: Urban Champion 102 634

*Available for free during June 2011

Finally, after half a year of waiting, Nintendo finally released its first non-3D Classics title for the 3DS Download Software lineup, and gamers responded. Asobism's FreakyForms got the highest ratings, already surpassing all but Let's Golf! 3D in LTD ratings, with great possibility that it will surpass it in the following months. Meanwhile, 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure shot up in sales and ratings after its debut, no doubt on the verge of surpassing Urban Champion and approaching Xevious in the near future. Excitebike is untouchable as it was freely available at the eShop launch and will most likely remain the most-rated 3DS Download Software for the forseeable future, so seeing it fall to FreakyForms in monthly ratings was a change of pace.

Last month's Pyramids more than doubled, but even considering that, the game is the least-rated 3DS Download Software to date, followed by 3D Classics: Twinbee by just over a hundred ratings. Since its existence, the eShop has 24,923 ratings on these games, of which 76% belongs to the free 3D Classics: Excitebike. This ratio looks set to decline as more 3DS Download Software titles emerge into next year.

1 1 The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition* 7491 22118
FreakyForms: Your Creations, Alive! 1249 1249
3 2 Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins 961 2579
4 3 Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX 739 16192
5 6 Plants vs. Zombies 669 4921
6 4 3D Classics: Excitebike* 650 18920
3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure 600 600
8 5 Super Mario Land 530 9633
9 7 Photo Dojo 430 3583
10 9 Inchworm Animation 360 2474
11 8 Kirby's Dream Land 341 3344
12 10 Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! 316 3064
Bloons TD 305 305
14 13 Cave Story 260 3312
15 12 Let's Golf! 3D 223 1855
16 11 Donkey Kong 206 3812
17 16 Zenonia 182 1532
18 17 Mario Clock 176 1341
19 15 Anonymous Notes Chapter 1 - From the Abyss 170 1747
20 19 GO Series: 10 Second Run 161 1176

*This game was freely available during June 2011.
**This game is freely available until February 2012.

Three new games appear in the overall Top 20, and that is a delight to see for sure! Bloons TD sits at 13 and is the second time a new DSiWare title appeared in the Top 20. Note that Cut the Rope sits at 21, just shy of the Top 20. FreakyForms debuts at 2, below the free Zelda title, while 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure enjoys being 7 right next to Excitebike.

Otherwise, the Top 20 is pretty similar to that of last month. The most-rated video download, Thriller, sits at 36. Otherwise, the top sellers of each category are seen above.

Now, while some might be questioning my methods here and saying "These are just ratings and mean nothing to sales," the method has been proven to be a pretty good method for sales predictions. Every month, Nintendo posts on the eShop a section labelled "Top Sellers" for a given month. So, as long as Nintendo releases them, these lists will follow all the above content.

Top Sellers
1 The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition*
2 FreakyForms: Your Creations, Alive!
3 3D Classics: Kirby's Adventure
4 Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
5 Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX
6 Thriller
7 Plants vs. Zombies
8 Super Mario Land
9 Kirby's Dream Land
10 Photo Dojo
11 Bloons TD
12 Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
13 Night of the Living Carrots
14 Pyramids
15 GO Series: 10 Second Run
16 Cut the Rope
17 Let's Golf! 3D
18 Inchworm Animation
19 Mario Clock
20 Nintendo Countdown Calender

*The game is freely available until February 2012.

For one, this puts Kirby's Adventure in a higher spot than it was before. It also brings Pyramids higher as well, above Let's Golf! 3D, even. Cut the Rope is at 16 instead of 21, and most surprising of all, both Thriller and Night of the Living Carrots actually outsold a large portion of titles in the eShop. Notice that Excitebike no longer appears here, as the game has not sold much since it was no longer free. There are some shifts here and there, as well, but what puzzles me are the downloads of the Mario Clock and Countdown Calender, but I guess I'll never understand that. The basic listing is more or less correct, however, compared to the ratings listing.

Now, what's in store for December? A new update just happened, and demos may appear in the near future. Nintendo and Intelligent Systems's Pushmo is already out, and rumors of Wario Land and a GameBoy Color title are abound. 3D Classics: Kid Icarus will most likely see a January release, so that leaves the question: will we see any more third party 3DS Download Software titles before year-end? We'll find out soon!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review: Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL

Game: Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL

System: Xbox 360 / Playstation 3 / Wii

Developer: Papaya Studio
(Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales, Ben10 Ultimate Alien: Cosmic Destruction)

Publisher: Crave Games

Price: $39.99 on Xbox 360 / Playstation 3
$29.99 on Wii

Over the years, Cartoon Network has become the home of dozens of cartoon franchises that span across a variety of audiences and styles. A number of people might have even wondered, “which character would win in an all-out brawl?” Well, thanks to Papaya Studio’s Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion, people could figure it out for themselves, choosing CN characters to duke it out! However, when it was originally released on Nintendo 3DS, the content felt unfinished and the ideas unrealized; the uneven graphics, poor sound quality, and dodgy performance hurt it quite a bit. Now, a few months later, Papaya Studio has released a console version, titled Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL. After playing the first release and finding it disappointing, I was concerned that the console version would end up the same way. Luckily, I was mistaken. Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL is both larger and better than its 3DS counterpart by far. More characters, more levels, more modes, more action, and best of all, more polish! While it still has its flaws to keep it from being a punch time explosion for everyone, the XL version is a much better and more recommendable game.


At its core, Punch Time Explosion XL is a fighting game, but not just any fighting game. It is, without a doubt, based directly on Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Brawl, but instead of Nintendo franchises, it has Cartoon Network characters, including the Power Puff Girls, Ben Tennyson, and Flapjack. Besides the original eighteen playable characters, XL adds eight new fighters such as Johnny Bravo and the Scotsman which can be obtained by unlocking them via the in-game store. While the selection of characters is much better in XL, some cartoon franchises are neglected or not represented at all. There are plenty of CN hits such as Samurai Jack, Chowder, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and Ben 10. However, older franchises such as Ed, Edd, n Eddy and Courage the Cowardly Dog as well as more recent and popular shows such as Adventure Time are surprisingly absent while Ben 10: Alien Force gets a large push. The uneven distribution of characters is apparent in the game’s level count, as well.

From children with transformation abilities to the darkest evils around, this game
sure has varied characters.

When comparing the 3DS stages to XL’s environments, the 3DS feels still and lacking while XL is exploding with more action. Both the returning stages as well as five new stages now offer a wide variety of activity, from breakaway floors to massive koi fish attacks and massive robot-induced destruction. When you introduce these stages to four-player battles, the game lives up to its name.

The goal of each fight is to knock your opponents off the screen with your character’s special attacks. Not only does each character have their own special moves, but they also have a unique Punch Time Explosion, a super powerful attack which can only be activated after collecting power cubes dropped by opponents. Thankfully, the Punch Time Explosions are not tediously long and jarring like those on the 3DS but instead appear quicker and are more integrated into the match. Besides your character’s move set, there are also weapons that can be picked up, including a teddy bear launcher and Assist Cubes which can summon another character to ‘assist’ the summoner. These Assist Attacks vary greatly from one another, from Gwen Tennyson’s psychic shields to Captain Stickybeard’s canon attack. A new element in XL is the Synergy Attack in which your character joins with the assist character to perform a special super move. They are very similar to the PTEs but are harder to come by and help add an extra level of chaos to the game.

Does Johnny Bravo want to brawl or just dance? Could go either way!

The actual game performance has been tweaked for the better. Thanks to the extended development time, the hit detection feels more spot-on than in the original version, and the game moves smoother more often than in the 3DS game. Despite these tweaks, XL’s computer AI is still one-noted and frustrating on the harder settings. When playing a team match or free-for-all match with computers, I found they would only come after me instead of going after each other and very rarely changed their strategies. For this reason, playing the game by yourself does not feel that engaging, but once you add a friend or three, the game’s enjoyment is increased dramatically. Unfortunately, these friends will need to be with you; the game lacks an online multiplayer mode.

The game content is broken up into two modes: Story Mode and Battle Mode. The Story Mode brings all the Cartoon Network worlds together and tries its best to explain how they came together in the first place. While the narrator is watching Cartoon Network, chaos begins to spread across the various shows as the cartoons' villains begin to invade other worlds. Ben Tennyson quickly heads out to stop them and, with some help from Dexter, gathers all the heroes together in order to save their worlds. Level-wise, the Story Mode is more or less the same as in the 3DS edition. Players must run and jump through multiple Cartoon Network worlds, which tend to lead up to battle arenas against one of the game’s villains or large enemy hordes. Thanks to the extra development time, the platforming segments feel less floaty, and the game improves the tutorial elements of the game. To break up all the combat and platforming, some stages have the occasional mini-game, ranging from first-person shooter segments to mine cart rides. While a few have been fixed up from their 3DS counterparts, others feel out of place and uninteresting. One example is FPS sections, which feel especially difficult to aim. The level design starts great, but as I progressed, I found the worlds and layout designs to become less interesting. While playing the story mode by yourself might get boring, XL allows for co-op play up to four players, which makes the story mode far more enjoyable. In fact, we highly recommend cooperative play for the best experience.

Man, getting to school is more dangerous than I thought!

The game’s other mode is Battle Mode, which has been given more options that were lacking in the handheld version. These include PTE Mode, where the winner collects the most energy orbs, Drone Mode, where the winner deals the most damage to the enemies on-stage, and Arcade Mode, in which you challenge character after character without any platforming or mini-game sections found in the Story Mode. While playing through the story and battle modes, you collect in-game points that can be used to purchase XL’s new characters and levels, alternate costumes for all characters, and video clips from the cartoons in HD quality. With plenty of nostalgia-soaked unlockables, the game does have a good sense of replayability, if you are interested in Cartoon Network’s lore.

Punch Time Explosion XL’s graphics and sound have been given a bit of an enhancement. The game’s textures, models, and backdrops all look more detailed in a higher resolution, and the musical tracks and sound effects are a lot crisper than before. The models are smoother and more animated, and bump-mapping and bloom -lighting improve the environments.

Despite all the fine-tuning and smoothing out XL has gone through, the game has an issue with inconsistent presentation. Transitions from cutscenes to gameplay and onward are rough at times, as the game tries to load the next area. Cutting to the main menu after a single match in Battle Mode seems off, and hearing the menu theme pop up after every level or match became annoying as I progressed. There were a few moments in which animations became jumpy, and sound effects were also inconsistent in volume. Also for voices, only the announcer spoke in full sentences, while the others gave small grunts or phrases instead of what they were actually saying. Hearing “I am Dexter, boy genius,” when he is clearly not introducing himself feels out of place. Not all voices are original and are sometimes poorly replaced, though the XL version has more original voices this time around. While the graphics and audio have benefited from the extra development time, the overall presentation of the game is still inconsistent and should have been smoothed out a little more before launch.


When compared to XL, Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion for the 3DS feels like a beta. Cartoon Network Punch Time Explosion XL feels more like the complete version with more characters, levels, and modes. However, if you have played the 3DS version, you will find a nearly identical story mode and gameplay experience here. What really sets XL apart from the 3DS game is the overall improved quality it got from a longer development time. Better graphics, sound, and physics all make this game a more enjoyable experience than on the handheld. Also adding cartoon clips and costumes can extend replayability and bring more nostalgia to fans. Despite these improvements, there are still some glaring presentational inconsistencies that make this game feel unpolished compared to the greats. If you enjoy any of the cartoons represented in the game, you will more likely than not find this to be a pleasant gaming experience. However, if you are not a fan of the cartoons used in the game, this game is an average fighter based off Super Smash Bros. that can be played on any console for a budget price. Also, play it with someone or you will be missing out on the best of it.

+ Crazy, action-filled stages for fun multi-player
+ Plenty of references to represented Cartoon Network franchises
+ An added variety of modes and unlockables

- An uneven representation of franchises, with some being completely non-existent
- Inconsistent presentation quality
- Computer AI feels unfair for single-player matches

CNPTEXL is a fun, action-packed multiplayer brawler with a decent selection of Cartoon Network characters, but its lack of certain popular franchises, inconsistent presentation, and meh single-player experiences limit the game to fans of the series and those willing to give it a try. Those with HD platforms looking for a Smash Brothers equivalent will find a decent one here.

3/5 (3.5/5 for multiplayer)

Disclaimer: This game was provided to us to review by the company.