One major game genre missing from the iPhone is the arcade fighting game… that is, until now.
Looking at the current gaming library, dominated by puzzle games and an increasing range of racers, you’d think that a fighting game along the lines of Street Fighter and Tekken would be hard to pull off on the iPhone. Well games developer Solus think they can and have created Funky Punch. So does this fighter float like James Brown or sting like your Dad dancing at a wedding?
Funky punch is a classic style arena beat em up. Your main aim is to defeat your opponent by means of knock out. Once they are defeated you move on to the next challenger, and so on. The usual set of fighting moves are here: punch, kick, block, dodge and jump. But as well as these moves, and as it’s name suggests, funky punch has a musical twist where funky tunes give the fighters special fighting styles. Each character has different special abilities. There’s Max with his Fire Ball and Flying kick; Vincent the special agent with his Whirlwind attack and Spinning fists; Carla (who has a close resemblance to Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard) and her Diamond fist and Saphire spray; Jack the Ninja with his Shiraken stars; Rodric the samurai with his various sword slashes; Darius the basket baller with his Quick Shot, Bounce Pass and Buzzer Beater moves; Klyde with his sonic clap and throwing knives; and finally Julisa and her Spirit Shield and kicks. There are also four special characters called the emoticons, Happy, Sad, Mad and What? These share moves with the other characters and act as Boss type characters
From the start screen you can select training mode, which teaches you the fighting moves and also allows you to practice on any fighter. If you want to jump right into a fight then select Battle. This mode is broken down into 4 sub modes: Quest; Trial, Survival and Emotimania. Quest is the classic win to continue mode. Trial tracks your record over ten fights. Survival has the biggest challenge that sees you fighting match after match but without your health bar replenishing each time. Then there’s Emotimania, a three on one match featuring the Emitocon characters. As you fight you have two bars in the top left of the screen, one is a health bar and the other is funk meter. When the funk meter is full you can pull off the funky moves, this will deplete the funk meter. You can replenish it by dancing, but this will leave you open to attack. Once your health bar is empty its game over. Beat down your opponents health bar will see you victorious.
The game focuses on touch play to control the fighter, and it’s here where I was worried that the game would fall down. Some games that emulate buttons on the touch screen have been a little week, with loose recognition… I’m happy to say that Funky punch controls are very responsive and work perfectly well. You move your character by tapping on any direction on the virtual D-pad. Hit A or B plus a direction to pull off a fighting move and hit J to jump.
Overall I found the game to be a little on the easy side, I didn’t notice any obvious increase in difficulty as I progressed and it’s too easy to cheat. I found that most opponents can be defeated by simply forcing them over to the edge of the arena and repeatedly hitting Down + A to sweep the leg. Obviously, if you want to make the most out of this game then you shouldn’t play that way… but this glitch could easily be fixed by placing some delay on how often you can pull off certain moves. If you play the game by trying all the moves and not in a repetitive way then there is a degree of challenge and you will enjoy it more, especially in survival mode where the challenge is greater.
The presentation is where this game really shines, delivering a well polished product. Featuring cell shaded 3D over animated 2D backgrounds, the game has a style similar to Japanese kids cartoons such as Dragon Ball Z and Avatar. The character and arena designs are nicely realised all with their own individual themes. Animation is good too, with many different character specific motions, including a bullet time style special move with funky special effects. Each character also has a unique celebration dance after each win, which is a nice touch. All this moves along at a smooth frame rate with barely any slowdown to some well produced funky music and fighting sound effects.
Presentation & Graphics: 9
The game really is a pleasure to look at. Cell shaded graphics, great animation and a solid frame rate.
Music is well produced and fits with the funky theme, if a little repetitive. The ‘thwacks’ and ‘swoosh’ fighting sound effects are fun.
The meat and potatoes of a fighting game is all here, it’s a little easy in some modes and the controls could be tweaked to remove the rapid leg-sweep. but a apart from that, fighting fans won’t be disappointed
Game life: 6
4 different modes and 12 fighters will take a short while to get through, but there isn’t enough variation in the fights or motivation to carry on. More fighters and arenas to unlock would add to the the game life and Wifi multiplayer would be a welcome bonus.
Game rating: 8
Funky punch plays well and looks great. While some tweaks in control, increased difficulty and unlockables (including WiFi multi player) would be welcome, Funky punch is a great first attempt to reproduce the fighting genre on the iPhone. James Brown would be proud.