REVIEW: Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl
Jay and Silent Bob Mall Brawl is an 8-bit prequel companion to Interabang Entertainment’s upcoming Jay and Silent Bob Chronic Blunt Punch. Whilst Chronic Blunt Punch is still in development, Mall Brawl is due for release Thursday 7th May 2020, on PC and Nintendo Switch.
Mall Brawl is a throwback to the classic 8-bit arcade, side-scrolling beat-em-ups of the Nintendo Entertainment System era and was conceived as a free digital bonus game for backers of the Jay and Silent Bob Chronic Blunt Punch crowdfunding campaign, as well as being available for fans who pre-order the deluxe edition of Chronic Blunt Punch.
As you may have guessed by the title, Jay and Silent Bob Mall Brawl allows you to take control of both Jay and Silent Bob, as you fight your way out of the mall to return safely to the Quickstop. The hetero-lifemates are hunted throughout the mall by Chief Rent-A-Cop and his off duty officers. Though it sounds simple enough to escape, you will face a wide variety of enemies and boss fights, from Mallrats, skateboarding delinquents and eatery mascots, which includes a rogues gallery of enemies from Kevin Smith’s View Askewniverse, such the infamous golden cow, Mooby, which you can fight off with either punches, kicks, jump attacks, or a combo of all of those, to deal serious damage.
The gameplay for Mall Brawl is laid out as a classic arcade-style game, which means there are very few buttons you need to learn. There are only two attack buttons, a jump button and of course the directional controls (either analogue stick or arrow buttons on the Switch). Combining these buttons allows for some great combo attacks or tactical approaches to the many different enemy types you’ll face whilst escaping the mall.
However, beating up Mallrats and officers isn’t the only challenge you’ll face in this game, as some levels throw a curveball and require quick reactions and fast thinking for certain level types such as one level which sees Jay and Silent Bob in a shopping cart in a side-scrolling dodge racer, which requires you to quickly change lanes in order to avoid barrels, banana peels, puddles and more, in order to reach the finish line.
Should you fail in any of these tasks, and both Jay and Silent Bob lose their full life bar, then be prepared to return to the very beginning of that stage. That’s right, there are no checkpoints in the stages, which means death should not be an option if you wish to reach the end. Starting a new stage does save your progress, so don’t be afraid to die a few times to learn some tactics, you won’t be spawning back at stage one, just to the beginning of the stage you’re on.
I would say this game is definitely a game of trial and error tactics for some players, as you will face multiple enemy types from skateboarding and charging enemies that may require you to jump attack more or dodge, to enemies with range attacks such as a ninja with shurikens (throwing stars) which might require a more close encounter approach to avoid ranged attacks from killing you before you can get a hit in.
For those worried about dying too much, however, fear not. If one of your characters dies in the brawl, ensure you keep a lookout for items dropped either by enemies or from certain smashable objects. These items include burgers, chicken wings, ice cream and more, which can restore health, and if your only character survives long enough, you will have bought more time for your defeated character to return to half health and be revived. This helps a lot with certain levels that throw multiple enemy types at you. For example, the mascots have more health than most common enemy types and they hit harder, so avoid their attacks and dance around them until you are sure you have a backup to defeat them should one character be defeated.
As mentioned previously, along the way you will encounter smashable objects such as crates or trash cans, which drop items when destroyed. Whilst you can get food from them, you can also find weapons, such as a sock full of quarters, a police baton, or even a hockey stick. These help deal damage to enemies at a slight range, meaning you can hit them before they get close enough to hit you.
Overall the game is a fun throwback to the NES era of gaming, and brings fans of Smith’s Askewniverse a fun-filled, yet challenging game to play whilst we wait for the anticipated Chronic Blunt Punch. The game is also accompanied by an upbeat, crisp and original chiptune track that adds to the sense of speed and action of the game. The game is one that you can pick up and play at any time, although that playthrough would require you to complete the entire stage, which is great for those seeking a challenge accompanied by 8-bit graphics of Jay and Silent Bob, as well as their foes.