Punch Club is a boxing management simulator developed by Lazy Bear Games and published by tinyBuild. The game was originally released in January 2016 for Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android. A Nintendo 3DS port of the game was announced in a September 2016 Nintendo Direct for release in January 2017 after some delays. There were ports made for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One which were released on March 31, 2017. The Nintendo Switch version was then released on May 24, 2018.
Punch Club is available on the Nintendo Store
In Punch Club you manage a boxer who is rising through the ranks determined to be the greatest boxer around while trying to find clues about who was involved in the death of his father. Basically, it’s the same story as Daredevil but instead of superpowers and blindness, you get stat screens and references to 1980’s action movies as shown by the man who guides you into boxing is an old man named Mick. Without spoiling much I’ll just say that the stories of Fight Club, Rocky, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more will crop up as you play through the game.
As the trainer of your boxer, you control all aspects of his life, everything from when he works too when he trains, all the actions he does including going from one location to another takes up time and you only have a certain amount of time to do activities. Every activity drains your boxer of certain attributes like hunger, alertness, and happiness, the level you have in these attributes can determine what actions you can do, for example, if your character is too hungry he will need to eat before he can train. A lot of the actions in this game revolve around you pressing the A button at the start and end of the certain action.
Of course, one of the main parts of Punch Club is the training itself, you can choose from three attributes when you train by choosing a certain apparatus in the gym which boost either strength, agility, and stamina. A couple of things I learned while playing this are first of all save your heavy training sessions for just before a fight, the reason for this is that your stats will deteriorate over time so it’s best to boost your stats just before the fight. The second thing is that you should focus on progressing along one of the three fight styles, so you can get access to more of the skill tree and advanced abilities. There is nothing wrong with balancing your training, but you’ll find that while you may be good at all three stats you will struggle.
The fights are where the game really shines, while on the surface it doesn’t seem to be any different to the training or working sections there is some strategy involved and paying attention to how the fight is going is crucial as you unlock more abilities. If you’re getting beaten by a heavy hitter then you’ll want to be blocking, if your stamina is low then using moves that drain you a lot are not good choices. Learning when to use these abilities are crucial to making the game a lot easier to complete.
Once again, I will comment on the references which did put a smile on my face, my favorite being when I met a mutant ninja in a sewer claiming he was the strongest of his brothers. While some find additions like this to a game a cheap way to gain some likes via nostalgia, I like them, seeing them and being able to know where the reference is from is just a small aspect of the game in the same way that easter eggs are.
Graphics and Audio
I’ve said it once and I’ll gladly say it again, I love games with a pixelated art style and graphics, the use of 16-bit graphics really is impressive in this game. A plus point for Punch Club, in particular, is that unlike a lot of other games that try to emulate the pixelated art style of classic NES games, Punch Club actually delivers and does so big time. The fights are quite entertaining to watch as your boxer and the opponent clash in a titanic struggle to be victorious.
The soundtrack is enjoyable too and combined with the 16-bit graphics really hammer home the retro gaming feel, other companies could learn from this in the future and also recreate the classic gaming feel that Punch Club has done.
Punch Club is, at first, a fun little sporting management game that is quite charming for a short period of time and in small sessions, it’s easy to enjoy yourself. However, spending any more than thirty minutes on this game will start to bore you as even though there is a satisfaction in watching those bars increase as you train it becomes very tedious just sitting there and basically doing nothing. Were this a more interactive experience I believe the game would keep players entertained for longer periods of time and give them more reason to replay the game.
|+ Entertaining references to old movies like Rocky||– Can get tedious quickly, especially if played for long periods of time|
|+ The 16-bit graphics are nice to look at and it has a great soundtrack||– A little too simplistic for true management simulator fans|
|+ The fights are great to watch and using strategy to get an advantage is satisfying||– Doesn't really make you want to replay the game at a later date|