Jay and Silent Bob Mall Brawl is a new NES game released in 2020. It's actually available as a limited run cart for the NES, but it’s also available on Steam and Nintendo Switch, for $14.99. Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
There is not much of a story in a traditional sense. When you start the game, you get a blurb of text, stating that they need to escape the mall and get back to the Quick Stop.
The rest of the story is told through the environment, and all the little touches, that show the love and care to all Kevin Smith's movies.
The game is simple but effective. Each character has their own moves and combos but it's not complicated at all.
One button to punch and one to kick.
Nail a few kicks or punches in a row to execute a combo move.
Both Jay and Bob play very similarly, except for their combo moves.
Jay's combo move triggers when attacking with kicks. After successfully landing a few kicks, Jay will go spinning through the air, with a really fun to watch spin kick.
Bob, on the other hand, has a combo from throwing punches. After you pull off a few punches, Bob will spin himself in a tornado fashion, hitting anyone who is near him.
Both of these moves were great, and effective, and didn't really get old during my time with the game. It’s a rewarding feeling when you can pull off one of these combos on one of many boss fights.
While playing the game, pay attention to everything. There are humor and references packed in every corner of this game. Some of it is in your face-- like the below screenshot-- but some are more subtle, like a store name in the background.
If playing solo, you can switch characters on the fly. I wish I knew this before I started the game. I kept going back and forth, internally arguing with myself about who I wanted to play through as first. Like most of the games this is trying to be, you regain health from finding and eating food. However, that’s not the only way to get some health back; if you're playing as Bob, and he is almost out of health, switch to Jay, and while not in use Bob will start to regain some health back.
Something different Mall Brawl does: you do not have a stock of lives. You only have on health bar, each, for Jay and Bob. If one of them loses all their health, you can survive long enough with your remaining character, and they will be revived and able to be used again. It's a very fun mechanic, and different than most other games.
The game is a side scrolling beat 'em up; we know what to expect from those. What this game does differently is by making every area feel unique and feel directly connected to either Kevin Smith's movies or the games from my childhood it was trying to emulate. It even does the classic elevator level where enemies keep dropping in. This was in every beat 'em up I can remember.
The game is partitioned into nine stages, and won't take too long to fight your way through, and most of the stages are nothing short of being a perfect retro beat 'em up level. There are a couple of hiccups, one which is much worse than the other.
My first major problem starts early on in stage 3. After the first two stages, you fought a couple of bosses and got the hang of the game, and then you get here to basically have your dreams crushed. The level starts like every other level: while you are fighting your way through it, you come to a shopping cart that you have to get in. You then start speeding down the aisle avoiding obstacles.
At first, this was amazing. After a few deaths, it just became infuriating.
I have beat the game four times now and this level does not get any easier the more you do it. It reminded me of the impossible bike level from Battle Toads; a little bit of luck just needs to be on your side to make it through it.
The other issue I had with the game had to do with the last two levels. Stage eight is basically just a boss rush stage. You fight a lot of the harder enemies you encountered throughout the story and then you refight all of the bosses one after another. Normally, when games add this, I have a major problem with it, but in this game, all the boss fights were unique and actually very fun to play. This is not where my issues lie, directly.
After you beat this stage, you go to the final stage, which is only a boss fight. It’s a very difficult boss fight. This is where I have a problem. I like a challenging boss fight so I’m glad I didn’t just stomp on it and roll credits, however, when you do die--and you probably will--you don’t just start that level over.
You start at the beginning of stage eight and have to replay that entire boss rush all over again. The first time I died, and got sent back, I thought my game glitched and restarted the wrong level, but no, that’s the design of it.
There really was not a single boss fight that I didn't enjoy, my favorite being one where the first phase of the fight has you playing air hockey. The boss shoots a giant puck at you, which you have to send back at him, with a well timed attack on the puck. I replayed this one countless times.
Jay and Silent Bob Mall Brawl was a game I was excited about but also a game I thought would be forgettable. This game is far from that. It’s a great retro game that stands the test of time. Fun and easy to learn mechanics, and amazing boss fights, really make it shine. It’s not without some hiccups, but overall, this is a must play. I give this one two thumbs up, and I will be replaying this game for years to come.
Final Score —8.5/10–