Punching fists is always better with friends.
I have a funny story to tell you about Fist Puncher before we begin. While talking about the game online, I accidentally typo-ed the name and called it “Fish Puncher.” A few days later, a developer got in touch with me to let me know that he had liked the idea of “Fish Puncher” so much, that he decided to make it into a real mobile game. The story of Fish Puncher is pretty hilarious, but the real sidescrolling beat ’em up Fist Puncher tops it for sheer laughs a minute – the story, the characters, the settings, the enemies, pretty much everything is an absolute hoot. If only you could punch and kick your way through the city of Las Cruces with some friends online, I’d be recommending this game outright.
The evil Milkman and his cronies have kidnapped a gaggle of gorgeous women, and your team has been sent out to help bring them back. In classic beat ’em up style, Fist Puncher sees you hammering away at your gamepad, knocking out combos and bashing hundreds and thousands of enemies in their dirty faces. It’s obvious from the intro video onwards that Fist Puncher does not take itself seriously at all – I mean, just look at the name of the game. One moment you’re fighting ninjas on the top of a train that’s carrying popcorn, and the next you’re on a nudist beach, kicking naked men in their holy places. There’s so much humor and silliness packed into this game, and it really gives the experience an edge that many more sombre fighting games lack.
The funny is complemented by a huge amount of variety spewing out of every orifice. There’s tons of characters to hunt down and play as, dozens of different environments to fight through, new enemy types on every single level, tons of boss battles, a multitude of combo moves and perks to unlock – essentially, Fist Puncher has the works. The game also features a nifty open-world feel, in that you can choose from a variety of branching storylines and tackle them in whichever order you choose. This means that if one level is giving you a particularly hard time, you can simply go off and visit another location, level your team up a bit more, then come back with your upgraded stats.
Oh yes – Fist Puncher has an integrated leveling system, which sees you adding stat points and perks to your characters as you battle. It’s not exactly hugely in-depth – you’ll essentially just plug numbers in to near-on level your stats as you go – but it’s still a nice little addition, and gives the game an added sense of progression. Also worth noting: the controls are nice and tight, and give you a real sense of actually kicking and punching your foes. The visuals are pleasantly retro, if perhaps a little too messy in places. The soundtrack is a mixture of great, good, and not so good, but overall it’s fitting of the genre.
But Fist Puncher stumbles on one core issue that resonates throughout the entirety of play – the lack of online multiplayer, and the severe need for it. This is a game that pretty much needs to be played with friends. On your own it’s fine, but with friends it’s masterful. Unfortunately, you can only play locally, which begs the question: are you able to get yourself and three friends around your PC, with Xbox controllers for each person? If the answer is yes, then Fist Puncher will suit you perfectly. If not, you should be cautious.
That’s because when playing as a solo player, you essentially need to stick with one character, or else you’ll be in for a huge grind, since stat upgrades are applied to each specific character. If you swap characters part way through the game, you’ll be annihilated, and have to start back from the very beginning to build them up. Why the game doesn’t come with online multiplayer is mind-boggling. It’s most likely down to a network coding issue, and was perhaps way too big of a job for developer Team2Bit to attend to – but it really puts a huge dampener on proceedings.
The online disappointment goes on: there are online leaderboards, but they can’t be accessed through the game, and instead you must check them out through the Steam client, which is hugely cumbersome. Again, it’s not clear why this functionality wasn’t just worked into the game itself, as with dozens of other indie titles on Steam.
It’s a shame that Fist Puncher doesn’t come with this online functionality, because it’s an otherwise fantastic beat ’em up game. If you own a PC setup that allows you and three friends to sit around a nice, sizable screen with Xbox controllers in each of your hands, Fist Puncher is a game you most definitely should not turn down.