Don’t let the “Buddha” in the name fool you: this is one action-packed game.
Some games are so addictive that you spend your time away from them thinking about them, possibly even dreaming about them. Buddha Finger is one of those games, and although it’s not quite in the same league as classics like Tetris or Space Invaders, it’s still the kind of game that will draw you in and never let you go.
The game starts with you queuing up in line to audition for the latest reality TV craze – America’s Next Top Ninja. While you’re passing the time and chatting to your queue-mates, you’re approached by a rather strange-looking Chinese man who introduces himself as Shifu.
Shifu reveals that you have a twin brother named Logan who is currently living in Hong Kong, and who has managed to get himself into a spot of bother with some of the local gangs. So you decide to leave auditioning for next year and instead jump on a plane to the Far East.
The game has a massive 61 levels to play through, including bosses to beat, goons to punish and other obstacles to overcome, like a crazed crate machine that keeps throwing boxes of Bruce Lee statues at you. A total of 61 levels is an amazing feat, and Buddha Finger really feels like it crams plenty of gameplay into one small mobile game. You’ll be left wanting more – but definitely won’t feel like you’ve been cheated. To beat the bad guys, you’ll need to employ a technique that Shifu has taught you called Buddha Finger, because, and I quote, “I have seen your American Kung Fu and it is lousy.”
Buddha Finger is an ancient Chinese technique whereby you poke enemies’ pressure points to bring them to their knees. There are different styles of giving someone The Finger, from tapping numbered circles in ascending order, drawing a path between them, spinning them round and tapping them repeatedly. Each different move is marked with a different symbol and you’ll need to master all to survive. The moves are easy to pick up, save the twirling one, which is tricky, particularly if you have sweaty, shaky hands like mine. You’re never given more than 10 pressure points to poke on any one screen, but I think more could have been added without the game feeling too difficult.
The levels get increasingly harder, employing such fiendish tricks as needing you to press on four circles at once (I had to use my nose for the last one) and having the circles float across the screen. The way the difficulty ramps up feels natural – there are no huge learning curves here. Each level is split into fights and each fight is split into rounds. Every time you successfully deliver a world-class ass-kicking, your Shaolin Style meter goes up. Once it’s full, you can tap it to unleash a devastating attack that will clear all the pressure points on the screen in just one shot. Use them on the levels you have trouble with to essentially skip over them.
You’re scored on each level and there are also a host of achievements to collect. If you score badly (or even lose) against one enemy in a level, you won’t necessarily fail that level, but you might want to come back later and show him (or her) that you were just having an off day. This adds replayability, especially for perfectionists that like to get a perfect 10 on every round. Personally, I was quite happy to just play through it and beat it once, although I suspect I won’t be able to keep away too long.
For me, the only way I think the game could possibly be better is perhaps by offering a different play mode that removes the story and randomizes the gameplay so that you could play endlessly without interruptions (or until you get beaten, that is). That’s not to say the story is bad at all, it’s hilarious in parts, never too long, and does a good job of giving all your finger pointing some context. But I yearned to play uninterrupted, unadulterated Buddha Finger once I’d played through it, instead of simply replaying it in order again. Perhaps developer Lady Shotgun will add something along these lines in an update or in a sequel.
Buddha Finger is incredibly addictive and fun, and even though it’s a humble iOS game, it’s probably one of my personal favourites of the year. What else can I say? It’s only $0.99. You should buy it now.