If you’re a bit tired of the platformers that have been coming out from the indie woodwork lately, but still want a bit of that nostalgic factor going on, then perhaps you can shift your attention to arcade beat-em-up games like this one. This genre is a big part of the retro arcade experience, when plenty of tokens were spent on games like Final Fight and Double Dragon. They’re easy to play and get into, which made them staples in the arcade back in the day. Developers who carry those memories from the olden days have now taken this experience into contemporary times.
Fist Puncher by Team2Bit is a title that would make people raise their eyebrows slightly, but it’s a retro style beat-em-up with some style. It quite similar to Fist of Awesome, another game with the same premise of an indie beat-em-up with humor in its delivery and “Fist” in its title, although this one seems to have more stuff in it. Off on a tangent, when one plays Kairosoft’s Game Dev Story, they would sometimes encounter situations where another developer is making a game that’s very similar to the one that the player is in the process of making, which would impact sales. This must be one of those situations in real life then, so much that it seems likely to not be just a coincidence.
Like in Fist of Awesome, it features retro-style graphics with that pixelated look and distinctive animation. Unlike in Fist of Awesome though, you do get to choose between a total of 15 characters, each with their own strengths and abilities. This amount of variety keeps the game fresh for a time that’s unusual with most beat-em-ups. It also helps that the combo system in the game is not just the rudimentary single combo chain that most other games have, but a more varied system with different unlockable combos that you can do, as well as defensive moves with the right analog stick that can help you avoid taking damage. The music is also pretty good, with beats that match the action and makes players want to mash out combo after combo.
When you get in the game, it’s not just about clearing every level and making you grind through the repetitive gameplay as you get various objectives during every mission that mixes things up. However, there are still instances of it being repetitive and grindy due to the nature of the gameplay in arcade brawlers. It also has some difficulty spikes that are inconsistent with the rest of the game, which players may not be totally prepared for. As with most arcade-style beat-em-up games, players can be caught by surprise and killed unfairly in these instances if they’re not careful.
For an indie game, this singleplayer campaign is actually quite long and rather surprising with some twists and turns that players wouldn’t expect at first. But then again, everything in the plot is over-the-top to begin with. While this game is funny for the most part, some may find it to be not so as it does make use of mostly tongue-in-cheek humor that they would find crude. It’s not really bad enough to make such people facepalm every time a quip is made, but it can get kind of old after some time. For those who do find it funny though, they’d be pleased to see each character having a ridiculous backstory that matches the rest of the equally ridiculous plot.
It also has local co-op that lets two players play the game together side-by-side, although it would have benefited from online co-op multiplayer. It would have played even more to the strengths of an arcade brawler, which is made even more fun when it’s able to let two or more players in on the action.
If you want to play a beat-em-up that is both modern and retro-like at the same time, then this could do you well. You do have to be quite accommodating to how retro it tries to be, not to mention its attempts at being funny, so you may have to give it some leeway in that regard.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 7/10