What kind of name is “Fist Puncher” anyway?
When a game goes by the name “Fist Puncher” you should pretty much know what to expect; lots of fists flying around, lots of bad guys, and over-the-top action. Team 2Bit certainly deliver outrageous brawling, but is Fist Puncher destined to be a knockout success, or will it lay face-down in a puddle of lowbrow humour and repetition?
It turns out that while meditating, the contestants from the Miss Fistpuncher contest were snatched from under Dr Karate’s nose. Now he and a ragtag group of Martial Arts enthusiasts are setting out to recover them and break some faces in the process.
Similar to games like Streets of Rage and River City Ransom, Fist Puncher is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up. Waves of enemies enter from either side of the screen, and it is your job to lay waste to them. Each character has a small repertoire of attacks they can use – with upgrades available as you level up. Attacks can be chained together to create massive combos, adding points to your special gauge. Special abilities range from ground stomps, back-breakers, and the ability to heal (invest in this skill early to avoid frustration).
Levels follow the same basic formula. You fight your way from one side of the screen to the other. This is how most of the game plays out, however there are some nice additions to keep you on your toes. On your quest to find the Miss Fistpuncher contestants you will visit lots of different locales, chase down bad guys on a motorcycle, crash a Nazi birthday party, and even sit in on an anger management class. If I could describe Fist Puncher in a single word, it would be “madcap” – sometimes overwhelmingly so.
One minute you will be facing down tough guys in the middle of the street, and the next you will be fighting off zombies in one of the games hidden levels. There is so much going on, all at once. It can be hard to take it all in.
This is where Fist Puncher starts to fall apart slightly. The in-your-face design is a band aid for a much more serious issue. Beneath its humorous veneer there just isn’t much going on.
The control scheme is basic, and although there are unlockable attacks, most enemies can be defeated by mashing the same button over and over again.
The game suffers from all-round poor presentation, from the intro sequence, to the levels, and menus. I did at least like the world map though. Environments are basic and are often poorly designed. A number of them are reused during the game, giving the impression that some of the game has been slapped together as quickly as possible.
Another issue is poor sound design. I am unsure how many different music tracks the game has but it seemed like all of them were 6 seconds long and looped, ad nauseum.
Somehow, though, I can’t help but like Fist Puncher. Admittedly, I find the design to be basic and childish, but it can also be genuinely humorous. Characters are well thought out and their bios are hilarious. There is a comic charm to almost everything in the game and while it may all get a bit too much at times, I can definitely see myself playing in short bursts. With friends the game shines; issues like sound design and button mashing fall away and the fun takes over.
Fist Puncher reminds me of some of the great side-scrolling brawlers of the ’80s and ’90s. In some ways the game resembles Streets of Rage, but lacking the finesse, the slick visual presentation, or the heart-pumping audio. This is not to say the game is terrible and its developers deserve a swift uppercut to the chin, quite the opposite, in fact. It doesn’t represent a leap forward for brawlers, but it doesn’t mark a step backward either. Fist Puncher upholds the status quo in a comically violent style.