Devotees of Kevin Smith films may remember a little something called Mallrats. It’s a 1995 film that’s the follow-up to his hit indie classic Clerks; and though it didn’t quite live up to the success of that prior release, it still found its place in fandom with its many references. And now, nearly three decades later, it’s back in the spotlight as a setting for an NES-style game for Nintendo Switch and PC, under the name Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl.
As the title indicates, the game features everyone’s favorite stoners, usually portrayed by Jason Mewes and Smith, as they take on devastating forces within the mall. This includes everything from the dreaded security captain LaFours to the Easter Bunny to a baddie costumed like Mooby Cow. It’s up to you to clean house and then, presumably, get high afterwards? Snoogins.
More Fun Than a Sock Full of Quarters…
The game has classic beat-em-up style gameplay akin to River City Ransom. You’ll be able to switch between Jay and Silent Bob at any time as you beat up random thugs throughout the game. Over time, you’ll want to keep an eye on their health. If one gets low, you’ll want to tag team and get them out of there, so they can heal up to half-health. If you end up losing both guys, it’s game over and back to the beginning for you.
While it’s not entirely a deep fighting system, Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl possesses a fun one nevertheless, as it’s a blast to execute moves on baddies. These include a flying attack, as well as a spinning punch for Silent Bob and a flip kick for Jay. What’s more, you can either go it alone or have a friend come along with you in co-op – always recommended for a jaunt like this.
You can also pick up weapons over the course of the game, including skateboards and even socks full of quarters, a reference from Mallrats. It’s not overly crowded with creativity, but it works, with Interabang Entertainment throwing in a lot to keep fans happy.
But Mind the Difficulty
That said, there is a catch. Mall Brawl does have that NES style difficulty. This is particularly true for when enemies surround you and bombard you with cheap hits. Fortunately, you can break out of this funk pretty easily, though it’ll take a few level retries to see the game through to its end.
Also, quick heads up – there is a Battletoads style level where you have to ride a shopping cart non-stop, avoiding objects like old ladies with walkers and rolling barrels. Too many hits and you’ll have to start all over again. It’s not impossible, but, again, it’ll take you a few tries to get through.
Some folks may balk at the high difficulty setting. However, those of you that grew up with the ‘Toads or the Mega Man games should be right at home.
A Good Presentation, and References Galore
Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl does feature a nostalgic presentation that’s akin to a number of 8-bit classics. The visuals are lovingly recreated straight from the era, including simply designed stages, cute animations (like the expressions enemies make when they get hit) and more. What’s more, the music backs everything up nicely, with chiptunes that fit right in with the manic, hilarious action.
One thing, though – it helps if you’re a Kevin Smith fan. The game is still a hit even if you’re not, but the more of his movies you’ve seen, the more all the in-game jokes in Mall Brawl will make sense. This is pure love for the things the director has worked on in the past, and I had a good time recognizing a lot of the nods. Otherwise, you might be scratching your head trying to figure out why Mooby Cow and the Easter Bunny are attacking you at the same time. Maybe watch Clerks and Mallrats first (and maybe even Dogma), just to be on the safe side.
Snootch To the Nootch
While Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl doesn’t reinvent the wheel like the Streets of Rage 2, it more than fulfills its role as a tribute piece to both the legacy of Kevin Smith and 8-bit fighters in general. It’s not heavy on replay value, but it’s a good time with each playthrough, whether you’re on your own or with a buddy by your side. It’s a little difficult in spots, but you should be able to get through it and have fun with Mall Brawl –at least, more fun than trying to see a 3D portrait of a sailboat.
Snoogins. This loving tribute to Kevin Smith films and 8-bit brawlers is a hit.