If someone had told me back in the mid 90’s that an 8-bit game featuring Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes’ alter egos would be released I would have told you to go smoke a bowel. But here we are in 2020 with a brand new NES game from developers Interbang Entertainment and Spoony Bard Productions. Before we look at Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl lets take a look at how we got here. This NES game was originally intended as a freebie bonus for backers of Interbangs upcoming game, Jay and Silent Bob: Chronic Blunt Punch. The beat-’em up is due out later this year after completing its crowdfunding.
It has now taken on a life of its own though with ports to Switch and Steam alongside the NES cartridge from Limited Run Games. Those lucky enough to pre-order the NES cart will have received their copies by now, while the rest will have to splurge on the digital copies. Those that backed Chronic Blunt Punch should have received a free Steam code. Confused yet? Well if you are not familiar with Kevin Smith’s View Askew universe things are going to get a whole lot weirder. Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl was developed with the restraints of the NES and takes its inspiration from River City Ransom and Double Dragon.
Set during the events of Smith’s second film, Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob are escaping the mall after successfully sabotaging the game show. They are on the run from the mall security and all manner of enemies from hockey players, the Easter Bunny and a pretzel man. Yes, it is bizarre but those who have followed Smith’s work will start to pick up on the references. This is definitely a game for fans by fans. You start the game as either Jay or Silent Bob or both if playing with a friend. You have a basic punch, kick and jump but special moves can be used when you rack up combos.
The game plays like every other classic NES brawler. Move from screen to screen taking out a few bad guys then move on again. The odd boss pops up including Patrick Swayze on a pony and the Golgothan, a shit demon! I cannot state enough how much the game references Smith’s previous work and the humour will most likely be lost on the uninitiated. Successfully chaining combos together builds stars that are unleashed as devastating combo finishers. Both characters have slightly different move sets so playing about with both is worth while. You can also grab enemies and knee them in the head but this seems to happen at random.
Each stage represents a new section of the mall. You will find yourself in an arcade, a supermarket and outside at times. The enemies start off quite easy and progressively get harder to beat. You will find some of the hit detection off but this actually makes it feel more like a game from 1992. The game really ramps up the difficulty on stage three with a Battletoad inducing trolley cart section. You can feel the rage building just by watching it. This part had me throwing a tantrum as it took me a fair few goes to crack. The rest of the game is pretty much just a standard brawler with the odd gimmick thrown in. Although fighting La Fours from the film is fun.
One of the standout features of Mall Brawl is how it handles lives. Instead of the usual three lives plus continues, this game takes an interesting turn. Instead of dying your character gets knocked out and after a specific time can be tagged back in. This leads to some strategy in the one player game as you can switch between Jay and Silent Bob as long as they are not knocked out. If one is a little low on health, switch to the other. This allows your life to slowly build and a chance to mix up the moves set. It is a novel idea that works really well in practice. As you become better at the game you will start switching on the fly to survive.
After finishing the main game a harder mode is unlocked to add some longevity. But in all honesty this is mostly a one time play through, although playing with a friend is very fun. The levels and enemies are varied and the bosses great. The nostalgia for NES brawlers of old as well as the Smith references throughout add up to an enjoyable game. It is great smashing up hockey players and security guards as your favourite stoner. Those that have not seen the films may just think the whole thing is a silly mess of pixel fighting but if you see the references you will be laughing throughout.
The only real issues with Mall Brawl is the insanely raging trolley section and the slightly off hit detection. But these are minor grumbles in an otherwise fun blast of retro action with dollops of pop culture. To finally have a game of Kevin Smith’s work will please fans and the fact is just a massive piss take and based on one of his silliest films is excellent. I thoroughly recommend this to Smith fans but throw a stink nugget of caution to those not familiar. Mall Brawl is out now on Switch and Steam or if you’re lucky you may find a NES cart for sale somewhere.