> # Welcome to GameGrinOS v1.01 > # How can I help you? > # Press ` again to close
Hello… | Log in or sign up
Punch A Bunch Review

Punch A Bunch Review

Recently, I've been watching a lot of YouTube videos on indie development, ranging from Game Jam projects to indie successes and their journeys. While browsing my home page, the algorithm showed me a video for a title that I, quite frankly, couldn't say no to. After a short, 10-minute watch session, I booted up Steam, opened the store page, and went straight to buy the game in question — discount or not, I wanted it, and I wanted it now.

This title, of course, is none other than indie Pontypants' Punch A Bunch, a boxing title that has you taking control of a physics-based character as you get in a one-on-one ring against all sorts of opponents as you seek to finish three championships: Amateur Series, Intermediate, and Pro League. But before you can start your journey to beat up countless opponents, you must first go through the training and basics... the very basics.

Meet Coach, a lovable yet hateable old man who teaches you how to do everything from throwing a punch to blocking and dashing. Yes, unlike traditional titles, Punch A Bunch doesn't give you the benefit of using the face or shoulder buttons to throw a punch, as instead, you'll be forced to wind back your punches, prepare for the sweet spot, and hit, with varying levels of strength depending on your mastery of this system. Instead of clicking a button and calling it a day, you need to use two (sometimes three or four) different inputs to throw one proper punch, with the right shoulder button winding it up, left joystick to move your character, right joystick to wind it up (and also pushing forward for when you're letting go of it), and left shoulder button to dash whenever appropriate. Sound complicated? It is.

20240326101049 1

This title is meant to be difficult — you won't become Muhammad Ali or Mike Tyson overnight, and due to that, Pontypants added a second alternate option for fighting: Punch Assist, which the game asks if you want to enable throughout the tutorial. This, instead, allows you to choose which area you want to punch by clicking the face buttons, left and up being face punches and right and down being body punches, and feels more "traditional" than the other control scheme. Though technically "easier", you are letting go of a lot of control over your character by enabling Punch Assist, making both modes a bit of a double-edged sword, where one works better in the early stages and championships and the other works better in the end game.

The entire premise, then, focuses on this physics-based gameplay with hidden expertise to be found within. I played most of my playthrough with Punch Assist despite the numerous downfalls of this system because I found it to be more comfortable and less confusing to my brain, as the intended controls proved to be far harder than I was capable of handling. The first issue Punch A Bunch faced when released to the public was a controversy over its difficulty, and with traditional controls, I can sort of see it — even after defeating every opponent without taking any damage, a single round against the easiest foe with traditional controls rendered me a boxing fool, barely being able to land significant hits and losing the match after a minute and 30 seconds.

This is where the charm of Punch A Bunch lies, however: its difficult-yet-accessible approach to one-on-one, boxing-based combat. While trying to wind up punches and land meaningful blows might be difficult (too difficult for me), it's not only not impossible but entirely doable with the Punch Assist enabled, and it then opens up a title of enjoyable boxing matches with unique gimmicks in each opponent and championship. Having played through it all on Punch Assist, I can confidently say I passed it all, but the journey to get there wasn't easy, it was merely made easier by a controller layout I was far more comfortable with.

20240320082938 1

Each championship consists of five opponents per league, culminating in a total of 16 foes (yes, the math doesn't check out. No, I can't tell you why). To win a championship, you must defeat all five contenders in one-on-one combat, and getting defeated means starting from the beginning (though you do have three optional lives you can use if you'd rather take that route). Though it seems simple at first, even Toby (the Coach's grandkid and first foe) can be a challenge as you first get accustomed to the controls in either of the two settings and then moving on from there starts becoming tougher and tougher.

Enemies all have patterns and fighting preferences that you'll need to learn and change your approach accordingly. Some defend their face too much, so body shots can give you some free blows and dwindle their stamina at a steady rate, while others are more offensive, and being defensive is the best course of action. This one-on-one mechanic works very similarly to how Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice bosses feel without the egregious difficulty, and it's one of the best fighting modes when done properly. And very few games explore and try to master this action alternative to being outnumbered.

Once you get into the later levels, abilities unlock for your opponents, giving them access to a slew of unblockable attacks you'll need to dodge or combos you'll need to parry. These have a warning symbol, giving you enough time to react and stand your ground and can be a double-edged sword for your foe if you learn to counter it. Each enemy, then, has strengths and weaknesses that you can exploit, and getting these is key to being able to advance and become good enough to make it in the final leagues.

20240326101822 1

Previously, this title had star-based progression, where you can find five bonus challenges per fight; three of these consist of beating your opponent in 60 seconds, 30 seconds, and not taking damage, but the other two are unique challenges that use my favourite form of videogame tutorials: hands-on training. If you start going through the stars as you finish each championship, you'll be taught how to defeat your opponent and making the fight much easier — once I had gotten the two unique stars, I had all of the tools I needed to finish the round in under 30 seconds and without taking damage. You have every resource you could possibly need to defeat your opponent, even finding hidden abilities that Coach doesn't teach you that can be discovered by reading the Boxer's Field Manual. You have everything at your disposal to make it from zero to hero; all it takes is practice, sweat, and a lot of button-mashing and self-directed profanity.

If you like one-on-one brawlers and this sounds like something you'd enjoy, then quite frankly, Pontypants' Punch A Bunch is a no-brainer title. Its short lifespan of only three championships and 16 foes means that if you're really good, you'll finish it in a few hours, but even though it was an evening-sized experience for me (including all of the stars in just under five hours), I am genuinely pleased with the title, and my only complaint is that I didn't have more of it to enjoy.


9.00/10 9

Punch A Bunch (Reviewed on Windows)

Excellent. Look out for this one.

Punch A Bunch may be an evening-sized title, but its exciting one-on-one combat and challenging gameplay make it an experience that I genuinely wish I had had more of.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

Share this: