If you’re old enough to hold NES classics like Double Dragon and River City Ransom close to your heart, you’ll probably love Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl.
From Interabang Entertainment in collaboration with Spoony Bard Productions, Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is a game released in 2020 that could pass as a game from the late eighties. This side-scrolling beat ’em up, which finds popular characters Jay and Silent Bob hunted across a mall by chief rent-a-cop after an incident that shall remain nameless, has charming 8-bit visuals, old-fashioned gameplay and a catchy retro soundtrack. It’s also fiendishly tough.
Players can go it alone or team up with a friend on the couch, pummelling anyone who stands in their way as they try to escape the mall with punches and kicks. Jay and Silent Bob sometimes pull off snazzy moves from out of nowhere, too, dazzling your opponents while putting a smile on your face. And if you really want to pack a punch, objects such as hockey sticks and balls in socks can be picked up off the ground and used to thwack or pelt your enemies.
Unfortunately, the simplicity of Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl‘s gameplay is equally likely to turn as many players off as it does attract them. While the side-scrolling beat ’em up genre hasn’t particularly evolved a great deal since its inception, the recent Streets of Rage 4 made solid moves to bring it up to date and offer some welcome depth. In comparison, Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is woefully shallow.
And then there’s the difficulty to consider. If you play Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl alone, you’ll find that you can switch between the two characters at will. Playing in co-op, each player takes control of one of them. Either way, if one of those characters loses all of their health, the only way they can re-enter the action is if the other player manages to survive and dole out damage to enemies long enough for a significant portion of their health bar to refill. If both players die, it’s back to the start of the current level you go.
Needless to say, it’s a hardcore old-fashioned experience, and that’s before you attempt the unlockable hard mode. Some will revel in the challenge, others will be frustrated by it. Having previously only been available on PC and Switch, this new Arcade Edition of the game, available now on PS4 and Xbox One, offers improved visuals and rebalanced gameplay, with a toggle to revert to the original version if you wish. Either way it’s no walk in the park.
Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but those who still delve into classic side-scrolling beat ’em ups every once in a while should definitely check it out. Those who are fond of Jay and Silent Bob are sure to get even more of a kick out of it. It perfectly recreates the look, feel and sound of a game from yesteryear, for better or worse. But there’s no denying that it has charm.
Jay and Silent Bob: Mall Brawl is available now on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC.