Developed by a three-man studio from Russia, Punch Club lets you take charge of a (kick) boxer whose father was mysteriously murdered. Despite the dramatic opening scene, Punch Club is a jolly frolic through training, fighting, sleeping, eating, shopping, working, falling in love and saving the day. Punch Club never takes itself too seriously and takes players on a humorous 1980s romp with old school pop rock soundtrack.
Playability: Tactical mano a mano fighting
Punch club is a boxing and martial arts management simulator. It doesn’t require adroitness or finger dexterity, but rather careful planning and tactical management. Time is of the essence: there is only so much you can pack in a day: woo your sweetheart, fight punks at the local bar, deliver pizza or work at a construction site to earn some cash, shop for groceries, pump iron and of course fight your way to the top of the world. A balanced daily routine could consist of eat, train, work, relax and explore the city or just loaf about and see how you fare in the ring. Punch Club’s gameplay is addictive enough to get your hero through another day (and into the morning hours). With enough patience, you’ll be able to fight the meanest baddest biggest bosses, and it won’t be just for the money.
Annoyance: No pain, no gain to be World Champion
It is a tough trudge to become the World’s greatest fighter. Actually, it is a tough plod to just beat your first opponent in the amateur league! Expect slow progression as you move up the ranks and gain additional skills and learn new fighting techniques. Luckily Punch Club’s storyline is a page turner, with enough subplots to get your fingers moving. The game is not difficult to complete but requires some patience. Miss a few days of training and your statistics (strength, agility, stamina) will gradually decay back to inoffensive newbie.
Beauty: Epic slog through 1980s fighting icons
Fake old blocky pixel games are a dime a dozen, but Punch Club artwork is truly engaging. Look closer and you’ll see that great care has been put into scenic animations, colourful Easter eggs, and a rock steady soundtrack that pays tribute to Bill Conti. Punch Club is supported by a great cast of characters (though not voiced over) and the shadows of Jean Claude Van Damme, Rocky Balboa, Bruce Lee and many other icons of popular culture.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Classic clichés wrapped in a wry sense of humour 8/10
Punch Club is an immediate fake old classic that pays immense respect to 1980s boxing and martial arts flicks and cultural paraphernalia. Training for higher levels is the only drag in an otherwise endearing fighting adventure that mixes tales of the underdog, revenge and far eastern mysticism. Despite the grind, Punch Club packs enough colourful characters and plot twists to make you train the extra kilometre, and endure the pain of extra reps to win the day.