FLY PUNCH BOOM
Platforms: Windows and Nintendo Switch
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
Review Fly Punch Boom! (switch)
The aptly named Fly Punch Boom! is a 2D brawler in the vein of Super Smash Bros, which tries to set itself apart with a 360-degree range of movement where fighters freely fly around a stage trying to beat each other senseless. Being able to dart around like comets and diving into your opponents to enter into a punching match evokes a Dragon Ball Z like the vibe, and the game wears its anime inspiration on its sleeve, especially when you notice the anime references in the titles you obtain while leveling up.
Game Modes and Content
The game offers local and online multiplayer, though I’ve not been able to play the latter for this review. Local offers 1vs1, 2vs2, and an arcade mode (ladder mode). 1vs1 can be played against a human or CPU controlled opponent; for this review, I’ve only tried playing against CPU opponents. There’s also a CPU vs. CPU mode, which is a spectator mode, though, for some reason, you can’t select the characters (maybe this is a bug as I’ve also noticed the cast and stage selection screen gets sometimes skipped when playing 1vs1).
There are eight selectable characters from the start with two unlockables and four stages plus one unlockable. There are also additional unlockables in the form of costumes (or cosplay as the game calls it). Each character has a unique design with their unusual move, though they play mostly identical. The stages are colorful with varying themes and hazards that can be used to finish off your opponent but also are functionally the same.
Graphics, Design, and Sound.
Graphically this game is not impressive, but that’s ok, being what it is. Its art style is very simple though colorful. There has gone a lot of attention to designing the backgrounds of the stages, perhaps a bit too much as they’re so cluttered with stuff you can bump in to or hit into your opponents that it’s hard to keep a proper overview of what’s going on all the time. While I can appreciate the effort that went into it, in particular the creative stage hazards that can finish you off if you’re unlucky, I can’t say the art style is particularly pleasing to the eye though I admit it grows on you with time.
The handful of songs are exclusively guitar rock songs, and while a few are quite charming with some amusing lyrics woven in between, I do wish there was some more variation between them as you’ll quickly tire from the constant guitar noise. Sound effects are rather simple and low quality. They’re somewhat cartoon like-sounding by design, I guess, but they occasionally sound misplaced. For example, the teleport move sounds like an explosion, which can give you the wrong impression that you’ve just been defeated instead of teleported to safety. It’s a minor gripe overall, though it does show the importance of good audio design.
Gameplay and Performance
The gameplay is simple on the surface, but there’s some depth to it. Your aim is to fly into your opponent by boosting with B and then hit Y when you’re close to your opponent to enter a fight, where you have to timely press either A for the throw, X for the counter, or Y for just kicking butt. There’s a rock-paper-scissors like the relationship between the three moves, which introduces an element of tactical combat into the fray. Your timing will also matter as you need to press the proper button when the gauge is in the blue part if you miss you’re at the mercy of your opponent (unless they miss too, then both of you look rather silly until one of you hits any of the follow-ups prompts). If you manage to hit the yellow part of the gauge, you get a chance to overpower your opponent even if they use the same type of attack (assuming they don’t hit the yellow part themselves). You have some leeway when hit by a counter because you can still get out of it by hitting the right follow up button combination or hope for your opponent to miss theirs. If you happen to get hit into a stage hazard or out of bounds, then you have a small window to recover with a timely button press. However, the target section of the gauge becomes increasingly smaller the more times you’ve had to recover up to now, so it becomes increasingly harder to pull off. If you fail to recover or just run out of health, you lose a life. Lose two, and it’s game over.
To spice things up, you occasionally get to use a special move when you collect two green (or blue) power-ups, which randomly appear on the map accompanied by an audio cue. Though getting them is rather tricky as they often appear just out of frame as the camera centers around you when you’re close to your opponent and they’re easy to miss. You occasionally also trigger a special state when a meter fills up, though this will happen without any player input. These specials are the only thing that really sets the characters apart, aside from their appearance. You also have a teleport ability, though I found myself using it less than I probably should. There’s also some opportunity to use the ropes of the stage (I guess calling it a ring would have been more appropriate in hindsight) to gain some additional flying speed with the rebound.
Getting a grasp of the gameplay has a bit of a learning curve and even then still feels a bit haphazard as you need to pay attention to getting both the timing right as well as hitting the right button. Gameplay essentially boils down to a series of QTE sequences, and admittedly that doesn’t sound very appealing despite its fast pacing. Combined with the visual overload of stage details and having to be aware of opponents’ specials and the ability to use the stage against you, it can be quite overwhelming, especially at the beginning. Even scaling down the difficulty doesn’t necessarily make things easier against CPU opponents. I fear that for the casual player, their patience might run out before they can get any enjoyment out of this game. Once you start to get a hold of the gameplay, though, you may find out it’s less daunting and more straightforward than you initially thought. At this point, though, the gameplay will start to feel rather repetitive, and with a very limited number of stages and characters, as well as a sore lack of game modes, the game will likely not hold your attention for long. Though it’s offline and online multiplayer, most likely will add to its longevity somewhat.
Performance-wise there isn’t much to note, aside from the occasional bug like the skipping of character/stage select and a single time the game froze when I tried CPU vs. CPU. I can’t say much to its online mode, so keep that in mind while you make your buying decision.
Conclusion and Score:
Being rather sparse on stages and characters, having too few game modes with repetitive gameplay with a rather steep learning curve, and perhaps a bit of a lackluster presentation, it may not be a surprise that I have a hard time recommending Fly Punch Boom! At its current asking price. The game might have some more longevity if you consider its multiplayer modes, but I doubt it will be enough to offset the problems I have encountered with its content and gameplay. It’s quite apparent that this is a single developer’s passion project, and if this is their first game, then it certainly isn’t a bad first showing, but unfortunately, that doesn’t save the game from being rather average.