The first rule about Punch Club is, don’t talk about Punch Club. We don’t even talk about how we have to watch our father be murdered right before our eyes. Instead let’s talk about how we get to eat junk food, deliver pizzas for a sketchy pizza parlor, and workout! This pretty much sums up the little to non existent story of our hero who must train to become the best fighter in the world, and honestly it doesn’t need any more explanation that that. Punch Club has all the systems needed to make up the perfect role-playing game. A proper training regiment and add in a little bit of luck can result in obtaining the best fighter.
Punch Club is a perfect mix of RPG, fighter, and training sim that forces you to train hard, eat healthy and work your way to the top of the charts. The premise behind the game is that you are an up and coming fighter who is completely broke and does push-ups as a “workout”. In order to pay for a gym membership, you have to get a job, however in order to do your job you have to have enough energy, and to have enough energy you need food. All of these things lead to you having to micromanage your character’s energy, happiness, and money in order to become the best. It feels tedious at first, however as you get further along you will get a deep sense of satisfaction when your character annihilates someone in a fight.
When it comes to training your character for fighting you have three stats that you can put points into, stamina, strength, and agility. Much like other RPG games these stats have the usual strengths and weaknesses associated with them. If you choose to build your character so that he has a lot of agility, he will be able to dodge a lot of attacks, however someone who has a lot of strength will deal an insane amount of damage if you get hit. Attempting to build up all three stats will make your character fairly good in most areas of fighting, unfortunately the farther you get into the game, the harder it will get to defeat opponents who have put the majority of their points into only one or two skills.
Unfortunately, the fighting is where you get the least sense of control over what your character does, because of how minimal the combat system is. You have the option of selecting from all of the abilities you may have unlocked, ranging from low kicks, to punches that drain your enemy’s stamina. What takes away from all of this is that you don’t actually get to control your character in the fight. You start the round and the game is out of your hands, other than choosing a group of moves you want to use for that round. You can unlock a variety of different attacks that all have different ups and downs, for example you could choose to use a low kick that will drain your enemy’s stamina, however it may have a higher chance of missing than a fast punch that deals less damage and drains more stamina.
The variety of vulnerabilities and strengths of enemies and your own character make the game far deeper in micromanagement than I would have ever expected from this game. The complexity of building stats and picking the correct attacks make this game a ton of fun and you can play it repeatedly trying out different builds. Quite possibly one of my favourite parts of this game was finding out that the mobile app has all of the same features and you can take it on the go. The only downfall of Punch Club is that its nostalgic touch of music that becomes exceedingly repetitive. Much like classic videogames, the game uses 8-bit tunes that are very well written, however having the tracks play themselves over and over after about an hour will definitely wear you down.
While the audio can wear you down, the game’s visuals will have you wanting more! There is an amazing amount of detail in the world of fight clubs, especially considering this is a 16-bit game. Every background feels alive and the animations feel exactly how they should for a retro themed game. The game makes constant references to pop culture characters that shout out to the player, “hey remember these characters, because we sure do”? Quite possibly my favourite reference was of the two guys outside the convenience store who very strongly resemble Jay and Silent Bob.
Punch Club is one of those games that if you have put at least ten minutes into the beginning of the game, you can expect to be putting in at least a couple of hours. It’s safe to say that Punch Club it has all of the elements of a great RPG, mixed with the micromanagement of RTS games and does it exceedingly well. Lazy Bear Games has done everything amazingly with this game, however the non-interactive combat and repetitive music make it impossible to give Punch Club a perfect score. If you are looking for an excellent 16-bit fighter game then look no further than Punch Club as it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play and sink some hours into.
Punch Club (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
If you are looking for an excellent 16-bit fighter game then look no further than Punch Club as it’s a hell of a lot of fun to play and sink some hours into.